The longer a comic – or comic company -- has been around, the harder it is to get the big picture and understand every facet. Who are all the characters, how do they fit with each other, and where did they first appear? Both Marvel and DC have mitigated this problem with various Who's Who's, Secret Files, Handbooks and Encyclopedias and now Top Cow laying out their history and library in an all new book entitled Top Cow Bible.
Founded in 1992 by famed comics creator Mark Silvestri, in the intervening seventeen years the Los Angeles-based company has produced several hundred comics, spinning out such popular characters as Cyberforce, Witchblade, The Darkness, Wanted and others. With such a diverse line-up, it's hard to encapsulate just what Top Cow is in one place – but Top Cow's doing it, in a definitive bible of all of their titles and characters in the upcoming Top Cow Bible.
Available previously only as a Comic-Ccon International: San Diego exclusive, Top Cow is going to print on a run for comic fans worldwide with an expected in-store date of October 7th. The book will include a comprehensive listing of all of Top Cow's properties and characters, as well as profiles, first appearances, key creators, trivia and even a look at Top cow's future with an "In Development" section.
For more, we talked with Top Cow's Publisher and Editor-In-Chief, Filip Sablik.
Newsarama: What was the impetus for doing the Top Cow Bible, Filip?
Filip Sablik: It's actually a project we've wanted to do for years and there have even been smaller scope versions of the project in years past like Book of Revelations. I think the average comic fan doesn't realize how many great projects and concepts have from Top Cow in our eighteen year history. I'm not sure even we realized how many ideas have come out of the studio until we sat down to create a comprehensive book - a "Who's Who" if you will.
The project started out and was intended to be a "quick and easy" project, just put together some information and art for the fans and people who might be interested in what we do. Once we actually got into the production of the book we realized what a mammoth undertaking it was. Not only did we write 176 pages of content from scratch but every page has art pulled from 15 years of archives and composited to give a visually appealing and comprehensive look a the property. Characters had to be "cut out" from completed art files, we had to comb through files to find the right images, and so on. There ended up being a lot of blood, sweat and tears in this book.
Nrama: Top Cow has published a variety of titles over the years, and although some are no longer in print. Could we see some old faces, like my own personal favorite Weapon Zero?
Sablik: Oh, yes! We definitely made an effort for this book to be comprehensive so you'll see properties like Weapon Zero, Cursed, Universe, and Humankind represented within. Who knows maybe it will even spur enough interest to revive some properties...
Nrama: Can you describe for us how it will be laid out – will it be like an encyclopedia of teams and characters like DC Who’s Who or Marvel Universe books, or what?
Sablik: It's divided into two large sections - the Top Cow Universe, which are all of the company owned characters like Witchblade, Darkness, etc. which all exist in the same shared universe and a Top Cow Productions section, which highlights the properties that exist outside of that shared universe. The second section also has all of our properties which are co-owned with creators.
Nrama: Who's behind it all, besides you of course, putting this book together?
Sablik: The primary writers behind this project were some of our great staff members - Scott Newman (who also served as the lead designer), Bryan Rountree, and Jennifer Chow. Matt Hawkins and I did a fair amount of writing as well, particularly on the property overviews. Chaz Riggs and Phil Smith pitched in with design assistance and I edited the project personally. Basically it was an "all hands on deck" project.
Nrama: Who do you see as the primary audience for this book?
Sablik: I think the first audience is definitely going to be our core, diehard Top Cow fans. This is something they've been asking for for many years. For those folks we added bonus trivia information, behind the scenes tidbits, and so on. The secondary audience is the readers who are coming into the Top Cow Universe for the first time and want to know what to read next. This is a great, inexpensive resource which gives them a really good overview of the other titles and properties we offer. We even have footnotes which point them in the direction of "Essential Reads".
Nrama: Not content to just show what's happened in the past at Top Cow, you have a section documenting the future of Top Cow. The "In Development" section will show off some never-before-seen projects that are in the works. What can we expect?
Sablik: These are projects that we are working on that are in the earliest stages of Development. Some may see comics soon and others may not see comic form for quite some time. Normally we don't even announce these, but we thought it'd be fun to give fans a look at how many things we have "in the works" at any given time. You'll find short descriptions of new projects and ideas from Ron Marz, Matt Hawkins, Jason Rubin, Warren Ellis, Marc Bernardin & Adam Freeman, and some guy named Filip Sablik. We've been getting A LOT of questions about these, which is fun.