March 3, 2022

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This Looks Cool: Aaron Duran, Sara Soler, and Jaime Martinez Start Spring off with "Season of the Bruja" from Oni Press


I'm not even going to pretend to be neutral on this one.

I've known my friend Aaron for a long time, going back even before we lived in the same city together. We both worked for Newsarama for awhile, too. Along the way, I've seen my friend work hard to be a new voice in comics, one that's been sorely needed. When he was included in the Lazarus world, I was so incredibly happy, because I knew just how good a writer Aaron is, and getting a high-profile gig gave others a chance to see what I'd been seeing all along.

That's why I'm absolutely over the moon happy when Oni announced Season of the Bruja by Aaron, Sara Soler on line and colors, and Jaime Martinez lettering. At long last, my friend was getting the big push he so richly deserves.

I'm well aware of Aaron's desire to put the heritage he grew up on into a comic, and that's front and center here with the premise:
Althalia Cabrera might seem like any other witchy Portland hipster whiling away her days behind the counter of a freaky occult museum, but there's more to her whole deal than a trendy pursuit of the craft. Althalia is a bruja by blood—the youngest in a long line of powerful magic users from a long-ago culture indigenous to Mexico. In her twenty years, Althalia has studied with her loving abuela by her side, supporting and mentoring her use of the family magic, and protecting her from the darkest parts of their practice's history. But just as Althalia's inner light and power begin to shine, the darkness of the past finds its way into her world and strikes a tragic blow, testing Althalia in ways she might not be prepared to survive.
Even if I didn't know the writer, I'd be all over a book like this, as I love stories that focus on lore and culture, building on existing myths and legends and putting a new spin on them. While maybe not his original plan, Mike Mignola's Hellboy is probably one of the best examples of that over time, with the titular character (and the many branches on his tree) encountering real-life myths and monsters. Walt Simonson's Thor is another that comes to mind. Stan Sakai's done it in Usagi Yojimbo many times. I could keep going here, but you get the idea. Using existing culture isn't a new idea, but in the hands of a great creator, it really shines.

And while I admit to bias, Aaron is a great creator. He's going to knock the plotting and script out of the park on this, both because of his skills as a writer and because of how important this new book is to him. and to his artistic collaborator, Soler.

Here's what Aaron had to say in the release:
"Season of the Bruja is an exploration of forgotten culture and heritage I’ve been trying to tell for years,” said Aaron Durán. “Working with Sara has been a dream; her art and energy elevated our comic to levels I would never have imagined, and Shawna [Gore, Oni Press senior editor] does what all great editors do: she found the strongest story within the pages and helped Sara and I bring it to life.” Season of the Bruja is Durán’s debut project in which he adapted much of the lore for the series from his own family’s traditions. 
And Solor added:
Season of the Bruja is a story that vindicates culture and diversity, the fighting for one's own rights and also of learning, forgiveness, and the love that you can find in the family, whether of blood or not. Aaron is an exceptional storyteller, not only because of how he tells the story, but because of the values with which the script has been infused."
Aaron's final comment in the press release really sticks with me, and I'm going to highlight it here:
Season of the Bruja is an ongoing journey of discovering our roots, and I think everyone will see a bit of themselves in the series." 
That ability for readers to connect with characters is a real hallmark of Aaron's other writing, both prose and in comics. I have no doubt that will shine here, too, as Duran, Soler, and Martinez put together a book that brings in readers of all kinds--but also helps ensure that readers who want to see themselves on the pages of a comic get an amazing horror comic to call their own.

I can't wait until March 16th, 2022, when you and I get to read this from our favorite comic shop or digital device!