Drew Ford writes:
Have you ever heard of a comic book from the mid-1980s entitled Aztec Ace? For those who haven’t…Aztec Ace was a comic book that ran for 15 issues between 1984 and 1985, created and written by legendary Batman scribe and Moon Knight creator Doug Moench, edited by Cat Yronwode, published by Eclipse Comics, and illustrated by a series of talented artists, including Dan Day, Michael Hernandez, and Thomas Yeates.
The story itself has been compared to Doctor Who, but that is only half right. While there are similarities, there are also stark differences, which set Aztec Ace apart as its own unique tale. The main character, Caza (Aztec Ace) travels between ancient civilians up through the 23rd century, saving the past from the future. You see, there is this unsavory character named Nine-Crocodile, who is constantly creating time paradoxes, putting our reality in danger of being destroyed. Ace travels through time, setting things straight, so that our reality remains stable. Helping him on his quest is a woman named Bridget who was plucked from the 1940s to become his pupil (and later his true love). And one can’t forget he navigator of his time vessel, the disembodied head of Sigmund Freud.
Aztec Ace is definitely a complex time travel adventure, but that’s honestly what makes it so endearing. Sometimes you might need to go back and read a piece of the comic over again, just to make sure you understood exactly what happened, but by then you’re so engaged with the overall story you don’t mind. It’s got wild time travel concepts, it’s thick with history, it contains an extremely realistic and healthy portrayal of human love, and it’s got an incredible aftertaste…the themes and concepts you discover along the way stick with you long after you’ve stopped reading.
Aztec Ace is one of the comics I have really wanted to collect for a while now. But when I launched my own imprint a few years ago, I felt I needed to start out with a few manageable projects, before jumping into a 500+ page collection, similar to what I had done as an editor at Dover, such as The Puma Blues or USS Stevens: The Collected Stories (both of which were nominated for Eisner Awards). After working on several smaller collections, I was ready to return to one of these all-encompassing collections that would test ones abilities as an editor and publisher. And I knew what I wanted that collection to be… Aztec Ace!
My next step would be to approach Doug Moench, the creator of the series. But how does one do that? I couldn’t find an email for the guy, and I was pretty sure he wasn’t actively participating in social media (and I was right). So I decided to go old school, and I looked him up in the phone book. I looked and I looked… did some research… looked a little more… and I found what I thought was his phone number.
I was nervous as hell as I held the phone to my ear. A voice came on. It was Doug. My entire plan of calmly explaining who I was, and what I was hoping to do, went out the window. I gushed about what a fan I was of his work, and was probably way too excited when I talked about collected his Aztec Ace comics. It took a while to explain everything, but once he got the gist of what I was hoping to do, he told me it sounded good and that I should send him an email with a breakdown of how everything would work. I did, and he gave me the green light. We then signed contracts, and I was on my way.
I went out and was lucky enough to sign contracts with the artists on the book (so they will also get a percentage of the KS campaign, which Doug insisted had to happen, even though he owns the property… yes, he is awesome!). And from there, I started putting the KS campaign together. There were actually many more steps along the way, but I’m trying to be kind and give you a more succinct version of what took place.
I launched the campaign, asking for $20K. I had never asked for so much money before. But I knew I would have to scan in all the original pages from the comics, and get them cleaned up and restored professionally. From my experience having done this with similar collections in the past, I knew how many thousands of dollars it would cost to have this done with over 500 pages. Plus I had to factor in a ton of costs like the overall design of the book, paying Doug and the rest of the creators, pay for new content including a new cover by Dan Day, a new foreword by Cat Yronwode, a new intro by Doug Moench, and a new afterword by David Allen. I am also paying Denis McFarling, the creator of the Aztec Ace logo and colorist on several issues of Aztec Ace, to write an essay about logo creation and comic book coloring in the 1980s. And of course, the cost of producing the book itself. $20K might seem like a lot, but I promise it’s not.
The good news is we hit our initial $20K goal a week into the campaign, and we are currently working on our second stretch goal! If we hit the next two stretch goals, we will include a 10-page Aztec Ace story by Doug Moench and illustrated by Tim Sale, along with a never-before-published 52-page Aztec Ace script, also by Moench! That’s where all of you come in!
I invite you to take a look at our campaign, and if you like what you see consider becoming a backer. And aside from picking up a copy of this beautiful 500+ hardcover collection, we are making exclusive Aztec Ace sketches available from some pretty incredible artists, including Bill Sienkiewicz, Jeff Lemire, Kelley Jones, Paul Pope, Michael Avon Oeming, ChrisCross, Matt Kindt, Michael Wm. Kaluta, Thomas Yeates, Joe Staton, and more! Not to mention pages of original Aztec Ace by Dan Day, an Aztec Ace t-shirt, lapel pin…and a bunch of freebies including an Aztec Ace mini print, featuring a gorgeous full color pin-up from up-and-coming artist Jok. This is Jok from South America, not Jock from the UK, and you would be wise to remember him. He is an incredible artist, and his career is just taking off! In fact, Jok will be drawing the first original series next year from my IT’S ALIVE! Imprint (more about that later).
As a thank you to Bleeding Cool readers, anyone who grabs a copy of the book off our campaign page can send me a message through the campaign letting me know they heard about the campaign by reading this piece on Bleeding Cool, and I will upgrade your $49 book to a $79 book signed by Doug Moench. You save $30 off a signed book just by mentioning Bleeding Cool to me in a message! And of course, just like all the backers, you will get a free Doug Moench trading card, a free mini-print, and a free Aztec Ace bookmark…and if we reach 500 backers, there will be even more freebies!
“Saving the history of comics one book at a time!”
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