Once again, Top Cow Productions is opening its doors to the next generation of comics creators with the Top Cow Talent Hunt 2019.
For this year's initiative, the California-based company is asking for submissions relating to their character the Darkness (and his associated characters). For writers, the company is asking for an original 20-pagr script; artists must draw 8 pages based on scripts provided by Top Cow. In both cases, the deadline is February 28, 2020.
This years' winners - one writer, and one artist - will receive $1,000 each from Top Cow, as well as guaranteed published work with the company following that. In addition to the winners, Top Cow will be awarding two runners-up with $250 each and a short story assignment. As with previous years' Top Cow Talent Hunts, this initiative is open to those who have no major publisher work published.
The full rules are here: http://www.newsarama.com/46914-top-cow-talent-hunt-2019-rules.html
And the submission form is available here: https://forms.gle/p5BS2qnw4ymyuWTH6
As Top Cow kicks off their annual Talent Hunt, the company's President/Publisher Matt Hawkins spoke with Newsarama about the return of the talent initiative, tips for any interested creators, and also lookinng back at previous winners.
Newsarama: Matt, first off, who is eligible for the Top Cow Talent Hunt?
Matt Hawkins: The full rules are attached but essentially, it's anyone who has not been published by a major publisher. The idea of it is to give someone unpublished the chance to be published. People can enter the writing or art portion...or both!
Nrama: What do you need to submit?
Hawkins: Again, this is broken down in detail in the rules document which I recommend that everyone participating read over multiple times to make sure they understand all of it. I'm always amazed when people ask questions that are clearly answered, sometimes multiple times, in the document.
Writers will write a 20-page self-contained one shot story set in the Darkness storyline in Top Cow's supernatural universe that includes Witchblade, the Darkness, the Magdalena and the other artifact bearer characters. It'll need to be a full script. The artists will need to draw eight sequential pages from one of three scripts we're including. Two of these were written by Paul Jenkins, the third by Ron Marz. Artists can choose any eight-page sequence in these to illustrate but it must be consecutive (they can do 1-8, but not 1-4 and 9-12). All entries will need to be uploaded to Top Cow's Google Form by February 28, 2020.
Nrama: This year you're putting the focus on the Darkness.
Hawkins: Yes, yhis year's will be focused solely on The Darkness so people can use characters from those storylines. I always encourage writers to try to keep the story simple and do things that won't overly affect continuity. Since The Darkness is a generational power, there is a lot of opportunity to flesh out historical bearers.
Nrama: Can you use Witchblade characters within your story set in the Darkness universe - like Alex, the current Witchblade holder?
Hawkins: Yes, they can, but I'd recommend that they do not.
Nrama: Can you use characters from past the Darkness and Witchblade stories that are currently not being used in your titles?
Hawkins: Yes, as long as the story makes sense as to why they're included.
Nrama: How is the Top Cow Talent Hunt different from last year's?
Hawkins: That it takes place in the Darkness storyline specifically and the only other significant difference is that we are not offering feedback for people who turned theirs in early. The sheer hours required to facilitate that made it a no-go for us this time around. If anyone wants to bring their script or art to us at one of our convention appearances, we'd be happy to chat with them about it.
Nrama: There are many winners, like Tini Howard, who have made great strides in the comic industry after their time with Top Cow’s Talent Hunt. How do you feel about their success? How do you think this gives them the tools to expand their comic career?
Hawkins: We're very proud of the winners and what they've all accomplished on the industry. I think the Talent Hunt is a way for them to test their skill and since the winners are heavily publicized and are then published it gives them exposure in the industry. I've actually spoken to a few editors from other companies who tell me they are looking for who wins now. That's great for all involved!
Nrama: How many people did Top Cow end up hiring out of the last talent hunt, from winners and non-winners?
Hawkins: Last year's winners have not had their books published yet, should be soon.
We've already picked up a project from Stephanie Phillips and are currently working with Cecilia Lo Valvo, ideally, we work eventually with all of them!
Nrama: What's the biggest mistake you see made in submissions for people to avoid?
Hawkins: On the writing side its people writing what they see as the first issue of a longer story arc. It's intended to be a self-contained one shot with a beginning, a middle and an end.
I think some people think this will be a prelude to our hiring them to write that extended series, but it doesn't work like that. There are also a lot of people that turn in the exact same story from a plot POV. This is okay as it depends on execution, but sometimes the "obvious" story isn't the one to do. Writers also focus too much on world building and elaborate setups and leave the characters kind of emotionless and uninteresting.
Also, heroes need to decide their fates and make decisions and live with the consequences.
Nrama: So what advice would you tell to a creator who wants to stand out, positively?
Hawkins: We're looking for people that can tell good stories and draw sequential art. That may seem obvious, but that really is it.
Nrama: Lastly, why do you think it’s important for comic companies to have these talent searches?
Hawkins: There are not a lot of opportunities for people trying to break in and this is one of the few that also gives the winners some decent exposure. I'm proud of the crew we've worked with on these and many of them are still in the industry.