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Aspen breaks ties with Joe Benitez and Lady Mechanika

Some relationships just aren’t meant to last forever.

That goes both for romances and, as it turns out, comics publishing, as Tuesday Aspen MLT announced that it was “amicably” and “mutually” separating itself from publishing Joe Benitez‘s work, namely the series Lady Mechanika. Launched in 2010, Lady Mechanika experienced major delays with its third issue unreleased even one year after its original announced release date.

“[Aspen] have greatly appreciated Joe’s time here with us and his involvement and promotion of Aspen Comics over the years. Joe and I have discussed his future plans and his desire to venture out on his own,” Aspen co-owner Peter Stiegwald said in a press release. ” We wish Joe well, and hope for a bright future for him and his creations, including Lady Mechanika.”

Benitez had been working regularly for the publisher since 2009 on a variety of books, including its flagship title Soulfire. Lady Mechanika, his creator-owned steamppunk series, garnered quite a bit of support from fans of both comics and the steampunk genre, but the production of the book has experiences significant delays. Lady Mechanika #4 was originally solicited for release in December 2011 but was delayed and ultimately canceled by the distributor.

Benitez is quoted in the press release, stating he is both “anxious and excited” to begin self-publishing Lady Mechanika. The writer/artist said he plans to finish the final three issues of the inaugural Lady Mechanika series in 2013, and launch an ongoing title in the near future.

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Free Comic Book Day: What to look out for

Today is Free Comic Book Day, and here’s a rundown of some of the comics that caught my interest. If you want to check ‘em out before you go, CBR has previews of many of the FCBD titles. (My FCBD comics came from my favorite Boston comics shop, Comicopia.)

Hands down, the one comic everybody wants is Archaia’s hardback anthology, which includes brand-new stories from six of their titles: Mouse Guard, Labyrinth, Return of the Dapper Men, Rust, Cursed Pirate Girl, and Cow Boy. The stories stand on their own but also tie in to the books in clever ways; the Mouse Guard story is a puppet show, and the Rust story features a boy writing a letter to his father (as his older brother does in the book). This book is a keeper; it even has a nameplate inside the front cover. Here’s a list of where Archaia creators will be doing book signings this FCBD.

BOOM! Studios has a nice flipbook with several Adventure Time comics on one side and Peanuts on the other. The Peanuts comics are mildly funny, but the Adventure Time side is edgier and features extra stories by Lucy Knisley and Michael DeForge. The stories are colorful and lively, and DeForge’s contribution, about a bacon ecosystem that supports tiny breakfast organisms, is downright surreal.

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