In the midst of this weekend's Florida Supercon craziness, three Miamians will be bringing mage culture to the masses with their newly-launched comic masterpiece, The Agency.
Bethany Romero, Ruben Romero and Roger Cabrera are the local trio behind the new series, a Harry Potter meets Mission: Impossible style mash-up with killer graphics and a page-turning plot.
Look out, Stan Lee. A new generation is stepping in, and they come from the 305.
With vastly differing backgrounds, the three friends (two of whom would become a married couple) had always dreamed of an artistic endeavor. All grew up with an avid interest in comic books, from Bethany's love for Archie to Ruben and Roger's enthusiasm for more traditional superhero stuff. (Bethany is also the daughter of New Times art critic Carlos Suarez de Jesus.)
"Miami is a cultural melting pot. Roger and I were born and raised here; Ruben was born in Venezuela and moved here at 3 years old. We've all had connections to art from a very early age," says Bethany. "We're definitely all writers and readers from a very young age."
As adults, the three launched the idea for The Agency when they were roommates, before Bethany and Ruben tied the knot. Bethany had a background in payroll administration and recruiting; Ruben in collections and banking; Roger in food service management.
"We all wanted to write creatively for a long time," Bethany says.
So they followed their dream. Pulling together a team of pro comic book artists (specifically an artist, a letterer, and a colorist) to tackle the visual side of their vision, they spent three years flushing out their labor of love.
Initially, the book was called Mages for Hire, Bethany says.
"A mage is a magical being that possesses magical abilities without a staff or a wand," she explains for those with less-than-stellar fantasy knowledge.
Eventually, they decided on a series where mages served in an agency, solving magical crimes, and The Agency was born.
The synopsis is this: "Basically, it's about a government agency -- a group of badass mages who go out and stop magical crimes that are occurring across the globe," explains Bethany. "An orphaned teenage kid [Riley Dean] is the main protagonist."
It's got love, teen angst, and magical espionage, she adds. "There are all kinds of different characters -- anybody of any age can relate."
The Agency first hit the shelves in June, and is still available for purchase online. And, the trio will be setting up shop at Supercon, selling signed hard copies and mingling with approximately 100,000 fanboys and girls.
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And Miami deserves some kudos for the team's dream come true, says Bethany.
"Definitely the attitude, the overall vibe here [in Miami] has inspired us to push ourselves to be better."
The Agency can be purchased online for $1.99, and hard copies will be on sale at Supercon for $5. Supercon attendees can find the team at J1 and J2 in the Artist's Alley. The convention runs July 3-6 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Dr. You can also follow The Agency on Instagram and Facebook.