WW PHILLY '08: Top Cow Panel

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Top Cow this year what with the June release of Wanted in theaters (based on the Top Cow’s miniseries book from ‘03/’04 by Mark Millar and JG Jones), their second annual comic Pilot Season and production starting on a Witchblade movie in the fall. Mel Caylo, VP of Marketing/Sales, hosted a panel featuring Lee Moder (artist), Ron Marz (writer), Rob Levin (Vice President of Editorial) and Nelson Blake II (artist), where they discussed it all.

After showing the second trailer to Wanted, Caylo got right into talking about the 2008 Pilot Season which launched two weeks ago. Together with Levin they detailed all six of the titles part of the program which asks comic book readers to go pick up the new one-shot books and then cyber-vote on the title they’d like to see become a series.

The six titles are:

Twilight Guardian – Is a reworking of a story that first appeared in Tales of the Pathetic Club.

Alibi – Created by Matt Hawkins and written by Joshua Hale Fialkov (who won the Pilot Season in ’07), the story revolves around an assassin that is so good, his peers chase him down to figure out how he performs his impossible hits. The title arrives in late June.

Genius – About a girl named Destiny who decides to declare war on the mean streets of her dangerous neighborhood. Levin said “It’s provocative and the most interesting story I’ve read in a long time.”

Lady Pendragon – Another idea from Matt Hawkins with a cover by famed one-sheet artist Drew Struzan. It’s destiny story about a novelist that pulls a sword from a stone in Mars. It drops mid-June.

The Core – A story by Jonathan Hickman about a human assigned to an outpost in the center of the universe. It hits stories in July.

Urban Myths – Levin said “It’s Clash of the Titans meets Chinatown. It’s really original…and looks like your watching an animated movie.”

Caylo then moved the conversation to Witchblade, which is still going strong with Ron Marz drafting the story arc. Marz again confirmed he is attached as the writer until issue #150, so he will with the title for three years, “and maybe more because we have ideas that go to issue #175.”

The Witchblade movie is confirmed to start production in Australia in the fall. Caylo showed the mock movie poster that debuted with the announcement last month and denied that the woman in the picture was an actual cast actress, despite internet rumors to the contrary.

“No one has been cast. It came out that Michael Rymer (Battlestar Galactica) will be the director but that is not set yet. He is in talks…and until a director is settled, no one will be cast because the director will be heavily involved [in that].”

New titles Top Cow are excited to launch soon include Ron Marz’ Dragon Prince. The writer explained it was a creator-owned story that he did with Jeff Johnson at Dark Horse three and a half years ago. Johnson subsequently took a job at Warner Bros. animation and the title lagged – untouched. Recently, Marz joined with artist Lee Moder to reawaken the idea by liberating it from Dark Horse.

“After six weeks of negotiations, we are now off and running,” Marz said. “It’s a five issue mini-arc that debuts in September. The story is all age appropriate…adventure story about a teen that discovers he is the last dragon on Earth.”

Broken Trinity is their other new summer event title that ties in with last summer’s First Born connecting Witchblade, The Darkness, and The Angelus. Issues 1 – 3 will be oversized (for the same money) with 26 – 28 pages.

“The first issue starts with a battle between Vikings,” Marz teased. “It’s not a sequel to First Born but thematically, they make a beginning and an end…and someone will die!”

“And they won’t come back and no one will be revealed to be a Skrull…” Levin joked.

Cyber Force and Hunter-Killer will be resurrected soon. Levin said “stay tuned – we have big plans which are awesome.” Marz then admitted his 2006 take on Cyber Force didn’t go well and that they want to take the time to bring it back right.

Darkness #4 will hit stores in mid-June. Levin teased “there is something wrong with his dark powers.” When asked about a follow-up Darkness video game, Caylo and Levin got cagey with their language and said they couldn’t make an announcement or comment on the timeline of when…or if the title will come out.” But the audience got the big hint.

With Wanted hitting screens in June, Caylo confirmed that a special movie edition of Mark Millar’s darker supervillains book will come out in September with a photo cover, new interviews with the cast and director and photo stills from the movie. There will also be a limited edition hardcover with red foil for $50.

As for Wanted fans that are upset with what is perceived as a major change from Millar’s nihilistic villain-themed book to the super powered assassins portrayed in the film trailers, Caylo and Levin both defended the new film. Caylo said the film is based on the early option of the film that Millar sold prior to the changes he made when the book was published. Marz also offered that “98% of the population doesn’t give a crap” that changes were made. He also said Millar’s riff on classic characters in Wanted, like Mr. Rictus being similar to Batman’s The Joker, are an open invitation to get sued by Warner Bros. if they made it to film.

In other news, Levin confirmed that more crossovers were in the work like the upcoming Magdalena/Daredevil book. He said it has a “classic Frank Miller feel with a Mignola vibe.” Three or four more crossovers are in the works.

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