Top Cow Productions is 21 years old and at San Diego Comic-Con the publisher’s Founder, Marc Silvestri, and the President, Matt Hawkins, were joined by many of the Top Cow creators to celebrate the past and look forward to the future. The panel included artist Rahsan Ekedal (“Think Tank”), writer Larime Taylor (“A Voice in the Dark”), artist Stjepan Seijic (“Aphrodite IX”), writer Ron Marz (“Witchblade”), and singer/creator Emily Lazar (“September Mourning”).
The panel began with a video from September Mourning. The hard rock band led by Lazar who is creating a whole new trans-media experience where the songs crisscross with the live concerts and continue into the comic books to tell a full story. Lazar approached Silvestri a few years ago about doing this. The webisodes are on MTV Geek and they feed into the live concerts. The comic book will begin in the fall and each aspect tells a different part of the overall story.
Lazar said that she wanted to tell a story with a strong musical backbone and wanted to use all medias to tell it. The story really kicks off with the winter tour.
Hawkins said the fifth issue of “Cyber Force,” the final chapter to the first arc, is due in stores in early August. He revealed some of the interior artwork saying that this issue is his favorite of the entire series so far.
Silvestri added that it is a huge compliment because Hawkins does not like anything. Silvestri added that “Cyber Force” #5 will be about the formation of Cyber Force. The team will need to decide if they are a team. The events of the overall story are pushing them in that direction and he said he is having a lot of fun with the story.
Hawkins said that “Cyber Force” #6 will ship soon after number five and the series will regain a regular shipping schedule at that point. To the fans who contributed to the series through Kickstarter, they should expect their rewards shortly after issue five hits the comic shops.
A video was shown of Larime Taylor talking about his book “A Voice in the Dark.” Taylor was born disabled and because he did not have a choice in the events of his life he wanted to write about a character that also did not have a choice. The story of “A Voice in the Dark” centers on a young woman who was born evil. She never asked to be born this way and the story sees how she deals with it. The story examines if evil is learned or is it in you at birth.
Hawkins said the book is going to come from Top Cow’s Minotaur Press imprint and it is unique for the publisher to bring in projects from the outside but this story is so compelling. Taylor has funded five projects through Kickstarter including two crowd sourcing campaigns for “A Voice in the Dark.” Because the last campaign reached more than 600% of the goal the series will be a three issue series with the first issue being double sized. The book will hit the stands in November.
Silvestri pointed to this and saying how Taylor is an inspiration to other creators looking to start out in comics. When Silvestri started you could not publish your own comics and now there are so many ways to get your passion out there.
The topic moved onto Hawkins and Ekedal’s “Think Tank” and Silvestri announced this is going to be a film soon. The first issue is free on TopCow.com.
A tee-shirt from the series that reads, “Seal Team Sexy” was shown and Hawkins said all these ideas and slogans come directly from Ekedal who adds them into the art without direction from the writer.
Silvestri said that the series is just like Hawkins without all the smart stuff.
Hawkins took a moment to give a shameless plug to the Lenovo Idea Pads that was available to one lucky winner who visited the Top Cow Comic-Con booth. This is the same pad that Seijic uses to make his art. The book ties into “Think Tank.”
Silvestri said when he first saw Seijic use the pad he was amazed at how quickly the artist was able to render Withchblade.
Ekedal said that in “Think Tank” #9, the beginning of the third story arc, we will see David leave the Think Tank and go into the field for the first time.
Hawkins added that all the science in the book is real and it should really scare you.
The collaboration between writer and artist on “Think Tank” was like catching lighting in a bottle, Silvestri added. Their work goes together so seamlessly it creates such a nice product. Ekedal adds some great story elements that Hawkins does not even think of.
“The Darkness” is coming to Madefire in a recent deal between the publisher and the digital producer. There will be a stop-motion animation of the book. The demonstration showed looked really slick and above what has been shown before of other stop motion comics. Hawkins said that readers will control the movement of the story and it is a really nice digital version of the book.
There is an original “Darkness” graphic novel in the works that will ship following the conclusion of the ongoing series with “The Darkness” #116. Dale Keown will be doing the cover art with Seijic doing the interior artwork.
A “Darkness” feature film is in the works and Silvestri says it is in good hands because the producers really understand the character of Jackie and the ties he has to other Top Cow properties like the Witchblade and Angelus. They are going to tell the true story of “The Darkness.”
Ron Marz returns to “Witchblade” with issue number 170. Marz wrote the series from issue 70 to 150. To celebrate the return, Silvestri drew a cover that is an homage to one of his most famous “X-Men” covers with Wolverine on an ‘X’ cross. This new cover shows Withchblade being crucified on a ‘W.’
The artist joining Marz is an Italian artist named Laura Braga who Marz discovered through Twitter. He said when Hawkins and Silvestri suggested he come back to the series Marz requested Braga as his artist. He also said his return will not be more of the same stories he told before. He is not coming back for the old stories but wants the book to evolve. Other publishers put out cyclical stories that keep repeating; the benefit of Top Cow is the stories are always moving forward.
The first work-for-hire project of Hawkins’ career is coming soon in “Tales of Honor.” Evergreen Films is working on it with Top Cow and they approached the publisher to adapt the novels into comics. David Weber has written 27 novels, but the comics will not be straight adaptations but will jump through the continuity of the novels.
The story stars a truly badass female kicking ass without the sexual exploitation. It is rare in a sci-fi military story to have a female officer as the lead. The book launches in January with fully painted series and Top Cow plans to publish it for two to three years. The series will receive a big push as the movies come out.
Seijic has drawn his own graphic novel series, “Ravine.” He worked on the book with Marz as a scripter. He called the first book the first issue but since the issue was 160 pages it prompted Marz to rib him saying it was a complete book not some small issue. The first is out now and the second book is coming soon. The story grows with each book. The first was more of an introduction and Seijic says the story really begins in the second. The fantasy novel has lots of dragons. A third volume is planned for 2014.
“Aphrodite IX” has seen the release of its third issue and the premiere issue is still free on TopCow.com. A cover for issue six revealed at the panel shows Aphrodite IX side by side with Aphrodite XV. Silvestri said Aphrodite is a character coming into her own. He used Aphrodite V in “Cyber Force” and she is a constant through the human race connecting all different eras in Top Cow. In “Aphrodite IX,” Hawkins is using her in a cool way with a story that plays with faith and religion and how this dogma can be made up.
Hawkins went on to discuss how Aphrodite is the human equivalent of technological obsolescence and how she evolves over the years but in this reality she is not so evolved.
The next announcement has to do with Top Cow’s 2014 Free Comic Book Day comic. It is Silvestri’s new project that they are keeping the details close to their vest, the image was tagged with the Magi is coming. Silvestri is a fan of the Seventh Samurai where a group does not want to come together but ultimately does. “The Magi” will be a magic book set in the present day.
Hawkins said Top Cow likes to launch their new books coming out of Free Comic Book Day because it allows readers to try out the books and if they like it they’ll buy the next one.
The next slide was a bar graph showing the population growth of the world. Hawkins talked about how he wanted to do a book titled “Patrol” but it was taken. Then he wanted to call the book “Clock” but it was taken. So he decided to call his book “Patrol Clock.” The book will have painted art by Colleen Doran and will be a modern take on eugenics.
“The Son of Merlin” is all out now and is a modern Arthurian Legend.
“Bushido” will have a 99 cent first issue with all issues shipping in October.
“American Legends” is coming in 2014.
Look for “Wildfire” from Minotaur Press next year.
Seijic through his Deviantart blog has created a whole side world of “Witchblade.” It is an alternate universe with other characters receiving the great artifacts of the Top Cow Universe like the Witchblade, the Darkness and the Angelus. Regular teens get the powers which come with a different set of skills than what we saw in the original series. The first issue will be 48 pages and will be available on Deviatart with a Kickstarter campaign to follow for the printed issue. Marz is doing the scripting of the series.
The winners of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt will see their work appear in “Artifacts” issues 33-35. Look for an announcement of the next Top Cow talent search in the coming weeks through TopCow.com.