Baltimore 08: Ron Marz Signs Top Cow Exclusive

Ron Marz Signs Top Cow Exclusive

As Newsarama readers know, writer Ron Marz has been calling Top Cow his home more and more recently. Along with writing the monthly Witchblade, Marz is currently also writing Dragon Prince and Broken Trinity for the publisher, and has been working on developing the universe’s future, helping to pull the various, sometimes disparate, threads together.

The relationship between the two has taken another step, as today at the Baltimore Comic Con it was announced that Marz has signed an exclusive contract with Top Cow. The writer spoke with Newsarama about the new deal.

Newsarma: Ron, as anyone watching your career over the past few years has seen, you've been working more and more for Top Cow. What pushed you over the edge to sign an exclusive?

Ron Marz: Anytime you make a decision like this, it's not any one factor that brings about the move, it's always a number of things. Creatively, I'm enjoying the hell out of what I do there. After four years on Witchblade, I'm still having a ball on the book. I had already committed to staying on Witchblade through at least 2010. Beyond that, there are a number of projects lined up that I'm excited to get to, first among them being Magdalena. And I'll also continue doing creator-owned material with Top Cow. Dragon Prince was just the first. I have a great relationship with everybody at Top Cow, including publisher Filip Sablik, president Matt Hawkins, Marc Silvestri and especially my editor, Rob Levin. Any creator will tell you how important it is to find an editor that you can work well with, someone who trusts you to do the job, rather than wanting to constantly insert themself in the process. Rob is a gem, despite being an Atlanta Braves fan.

Top Cow is not a big corporate entity, it's a boutique publisher. It's much more like a family. They don't churn out material just to fill up rack space, they do a finite number of titles and do everything they can to make sure those titles are quality material. That's something I want to be a part of. I've been very happy at Top Cow since day one, so making it a more formal relationship seemed like a very logical step. And to be perfectly honest, they made me a great financial offer as well. Writing comics is a dream job, but it sure as hell helps to get paid for it, especially with gas headed toward five bucks a gallon and my mortgage payments going north. I'm being paid well to work on material I really like with people I really like. That would be tough to turn down.

NRAMA: So what does your exclusive entail in the big picture? As we've seen "exclusive" can mean many things, from “you only work for us” to “you can work for anyone else except x, y, and z...” - does this exclusive mean you're only working for Top Cow when it comes to writing?

RM: Right, the vast majority of my writing will be for Top Cow. I've still got a couple of creator-owned things at Dark Horse, and I'm doing some video-game work, but my steady, monthly output will be from Top Cow. I've still got some things floating around in drawers up at DC that will hopefully see the light of day at some point in the future. It's really about focusing my time and attention on what I do for Top Cow.

NRAMA: You've done bits and pieces here and there for a few different companies over the last few years, so why settle in with Top Cow? Can you dig into what is it about them that has you putting your eggs in their basket?

RM: At one time or another, I've danced with all the girls at the prom. Writers have the latitude to do that, because a writer can work on a number of projects at once. Every publisher has its pros and cons. I picked the one that's the best fit for me right now, for all the reasons I mentioned. There's also a sense, to me at least, that things are building at Top Cow, in terms of other media as well as the comics. I think a lot of readers have a fixed notion in their minds of what a Top Cow book is, and a lot of the time, it's a notion that's ten years old and completely outdated. Things like Pilot Season, and Paul Dini's Madame Mirage and cartoon universe, and hopefully Dragon Prince, attest to a real diversity of material coming from Top Cow. I'm forever talking about the industry needing more diversity beyond just piles of Big Two superheroes, so this is a chance for me to contribute to that.

NRAMA: So what does the exclusive entail? Right now, you're writing Witchblade and Dragon offense, but that doesn't seem like a full plate for an exclusive writer...

RM: The exclusive is for three issues a month, which is a manageable work load. The general parameters break down as two "Top Cow Universe" books -- things like Witchblade, Magdalena or the Broken Trinity crossover -- and a creator-owned book -- like Dragon Prince -- per month. So I get to play with some toys I already like, and I get to create my own toys. I can't think of a better combination.

NRAMA: What does an exclusive do for you, creatively?

RM: On the one hand, it allows me to nail down my commitments and plan those titles for the long-term. I've been fortunate enough to be in a position to tell some of the stories that have moved the Top Cow Universe forward, stuff like First Born and Broken Trinity. I'll continue to be involved in those kinds of stories, both in the monthly titles and in special projects, as the universe continues to evolve.

On the other hand, this gives me a home for more creator-owned material. I agree with a lot of Kirkman's manifesto about creators needing to create new projects and properties in order to keep the industry fresh and vibrant. But I'm also aware of the financial realities of doing just creator-owned material, as opposed to work-for-hire. This deal allows me to have my cake and eat it too.

NRAMA: You mentioned it earlier, but what about your Dark Horse work – will that be actively worked on, or pushed back to “someday?"

RM: Luke [Ross] and are I still working on the next volume of Samurai, so that's very much still happening. I'm also still doing Pantheon City through Dark Horse, with Clement Sauve on the art. That one's been in process for quite a while, but believe me, when you see the art, you'll know why.

NRAMA: Timelining things out, what's on your desk coming up in the near future from Top Cow?

RM: Obviously Witchblade is front and center, along with the remainder of Dragon Prince. I want to get a stack of Witchblade scripts in the can, so we know we can stay on schedule with the monthly. Stjepan Sejic works so damn fast, he paints the issues almost as fast as I can write them. Then we'll be launching a Magdalena project in 2009 that's going to be a big push for the character. Beyond that, we've got projects lined up for 2009 and 2010 that we haven't announced yet, both Top Cow Universe stuff and some creator-owned concepts, so stay tuned. It's all stuff I'm excited about.

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