Top Cow's Top Cow on WITCHBLADE: Silvestri Talks Flagship

If there's one comic book property that has been most associated with Top Cow publishing since its origins, that comic is Witchblade.

Based on the wielder of an ancient weapon with supernatural beginnings, Witchblade was launched by Image founder Marc Silvestri in 1995, with writers Brian Haberlin and Christina Z and artist Michael Turner. Since then, the character has gone through a lot of changes and the comic has seen several spin-off titles and crossovers. There was a TV show several years ago, and an upcoming feature film is expected next year from producer Michael Rymer of Battlestar Galactica fame.

Focusing on the character Sara Pezzini, who wields the powerful Witchblade, the comic has put its protagonist through the ringer recently. In the First Born mini-series, the Witchblade was split into two parts that were controlled by Sara and Dani Baptiste. And Sara's life was changed even further when she gave birth, then later possessed the full Witchblade.

And now, with the end of the recent War of the Witchblades and the launch in December of Angelus by Ron Marz and Stjepan Sejic, the Witchblade franchise is heading into a series of events that will put the character at center stage in the Image universe.

In the first part of a series looking at the Witchblade and Angelus characters at Top Cow, we talked to Marc Silvestri about how Sara and the Witchblade character has evolved over the years, and what comes next as we head into 2010.

Newsarama: Marc, just to start out, why all the attention on Witchblade recently? Are there big plans coming for the character?

Marc Silvestri: We've been talking internally about where we want to go with her, which you're not getting out of me, by the way. [laughs] We have some really cool ideas for Sara and the whole Witchblade mythology. We're planning some big event stuff for next year.

Nrama: This character has gone through a lot of changes over the years, particularly recently. Looking back at her origins, what has this character meant to Top Cow since her introduction in 1995?

Silvestri: She's meant a lot. I'm really happy and proud of that character. Not only did it kind of put Top Cow on the map back in the day, but she's still here. And it's absolutely one of those franchises that we're never going to stop publishing.

I think the fact that she's been written by so many different writers and drawn by so many different artists, yet still maintained her integrity as a character, speaks volumes. The concept of who she is and what she is is still solid.

Nrama: When you first came up with the idea behind her mythology, did you have any dream that it would go this far?

Silvestri: You really can't do anything but hope. We were talking about this recently, about her franchise, and we were talking about back when she was created. This is a horrible term, but the term that was used back then, was "bad girl" stuff, which was just coming out. And Marvel, for years, had tried to create a female lead that mattered in a comic. They just couldn't crack it. They couldn't make it happen.

And Billy Tucci got some notice with Shi, when that came out. And that kind of got people thinking about, oh, you can have a strong female lead in a book and people will respond to it if it's handled correctly. And Brian Haberlin came into the office one day and said, "Hey, I've got an idea. We should do something based off of Arthurian legend, mixing Excalibur and the spirit of destiny and what that means." From there, the genesis became this gauntlet, this thing that was basically Excalibur. And it was a mythological thing. It was something steeped in pre-history, since the dawn of man, that picked a wielder.

At that time, we just thought a female lead could work with that concept. Mike Turner was impressing us every day with his growth as an artist, and we put it together. We knew we had something on our hands. And immediately, the audience response to it proved that. And we just kept going from there. I think the fact that we've been able to do this many years of a book, have a live action TV show, have a Japanese anime done of it, and now working on a feature film says a lot about the concept and how solid it is. And how male and female audiences have responded to it.

Nrama: Why do you think Witchblade has been such a successful property for Top Cow? What is it about Sara that makes her so compelling to readers?

Silvestri: The cool thing about Sara, and where she's going, as well as where she's been, is that there's such a rich mythology. She's become this modern icon. You kind of have to have as much fun with her as you can, like taking the Witchblade away from her, giving her a child, still letting her do what she does, and still always being recognizable as Sara Pezzini, the wielder of the Witchblade and destined to be the savior of mankind. But still give her the grounding of the reality around her. I mean, she gave birth, and nothing is more natural than that.

Nrama: Is it natural? I mean, there are indications we might be seeing more to that story.

Silvestri: Well the question is, what exactly did she give birth to? Believe me, we're going to find out!

Tomorrow we talk to Silvestri about his work on Image United, and check back with Newsarama next week for more on the story as we discuss the future of the Witchblade and Angelus characters with Ron Marz.

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