SDCC '08 - Top Cow Panel

A room filled to capacity greeted the Top Cow panelists as they made their way to the stage Saturday afternoon at San Diego Comic-Con. The gathering featured bumper crop of panelists for the roughly hour-long panel included: Joshua Hale Fialkov, Publisher Philip Sablik, Paul Dini, Founder Marc Silvestri, President Matt Hawkins, Clayburn Moore, Seth Green, Hugh Sterbakov, William Harms, Randy Queen, Sarah Oaks, Ron Marz, and Editor Rob Levin.

Hawkins opened the panel by asking how many of the audience saw Wanted, which was answered by loud cheers, and then showed a trailer for the Wanted Blu Ray DVD which will be out in fall. Sablik added that the tentative release date is in November.

In other Wanted news, Sablik said that an Art of Wanted oversized art book will be coming out, and will contain art from the comics, stills from the movie and art from the forthcoming video game (due out later this year, or early next). The Art of Wanted is due out in November.

The Freshmen was the next focus, with Green and Sterbakov taking to the stage to talk about the book and The Freshmen Summer Vacation Special in stores now. The duo also showed off the prototype of The Puppeteer statue by Moore.

Moving on, Sablik announced that starting August 11th, the Witchblade anime will be available for download on iTunes, with the first issue being available for free. Sablik then transitioned to talking about the Witchblade movie, while showing the teaser poster, he added that though the teaser poster says 2009, the film’s release will more likely be in 2010. As announced this week in the trades, the Witchblade film will be directed by Michael Rymer who has directed Battlestar Galactica.

Touching on comics, Sablik showed the cover to Broken Trinity #1, which debuted this week, both in shops and at the show. Sablik then announced that both Jorge Lucas and Nelson Blake have been signed to exclusive contracts by Top Cow.

Sablik then announced Witchblade and Broken Trinity artist Stjepan Sejic – Ravine. Described by the artist and Sablik, the story is an epic fantasy about a man who is trying to bring back his wife and child from beyond, and a group of heroes who are trying to stop him. “If you guys like what he’s doing on Witchblade, this is twice as good,” Marz said. Marz will script the projects, based off of Sejic’s plots.

As reported earlier, Cyblade and Velocity, winners of the first Pilot Season contest will launch later this year as miniseries. Voting for the 2008 Pilot Season projects will begin in August.

Harms’ Impaler, previously published via Image Central will be finished and collected by Top Cow, and a new series will start afterwards. “One sentence, vampires destroy the world,” Harms said when asked to describe the series in one sentence. “And Vlad the Impaler is the guy hunting the vampires.”

Paul Dini will start a new imprint at Top Cow which will serve as a home for more humorous projects, and will go under the banner of “Dini Cartoons.” The imprint will feature Dini’s wackier characters, and will kick off with Jingle Belle Meets Frankenstein. These won’t be kids books, Dini explained, but rather books with a more humorous bent, along the lines of his Jingle Belle, which had previously been at Dark Horse and Oni. Dini said that he has approached J. Bone about bringing his Mutant, Texas series to the imprint, and is also talking to friends about their stories and characters, possibly for a humor anthology.

Also, Madame Mirage will come back next year in a new series, Dini announced. The collection of the first storyline hits in September, though the publisher has copies available at the show. The was no date given for the debut of volume 2.

Top Cow is partnering with Iron Fist, a boutique manufacturer of clothes and other apparel, with the first wave to hit in 2009.

Queen was then called up to talk about Starfall, his newest project which he boiled down to “space pirates versus zombie dinosaurs” with a laugh.

Hawkins then called up actors Luke Goss and Jenna Dewan, who will play Christoph and Patience, respectively in the recently announced film version of Top Cow’s Magdalena film. Producer Gale Anne Hurd also joined the actors on stage and said that Jenna now knows more about the Magdalena than anyone in the room. Hurd promised that they will be coming back next Comic-Con with more to show from the film.

With his last announcement, Hawkins announced Berserker, a property by Rick Loverd that was described as average people who are discovering that they have ancient Norse powers and are falling into an underground war that has been raging for the last 1,000 years.

The project is already under consideration for a film, and was brought to Top Cow by actor Milo (Heroes) Ventimiglia and Russ Cundiff. Promo art by Dale Keown was shown, as the project will be travelling down parallel development paths, with Ventimiglia and Cundiff taking it to film, and Top Cow developing the concept as a comic book.

With the announcements over, the floor was opened to questions.

Q: Is there more Necromancer coming?

Hawkins said that he wishes more could be coming, but feels that it’s a property that may actually work better as novels, and plans to discuss future plans for the property with the original writer Joshua Ortega.

Q: What informs which projects Top Cow goes after?

“Literally anything Marvel or DC does not want to touch,” Silvestri said to laughs. He then clarified, saying that Top Cow’s books are always going to have an edge and be a little left or right of center, rather than the middle of the road stories that the larger publishers tell.

Q: Given that the poster makes her look like Dani, which Witchblade will be in the film?

Silvestri said that the screenplay is being worked on right now, and nothing could really be said. “We’re going to come up with a kickass movie and a kick ass story,” he said.

Hawkins then asked Dewan and Goss what attracted them to the project.

Dewan said that she had been sent the comics, and was immediately impressed with them, and the story matched her desire to do an action movie. Laughing when asked by Hawkins, she said that yes, she would do her own stunts for the film.

Goss said that he signed on because he is attracted to characters that are tormented and have inner turmoil. Christoph, Goss said, is a knight of the order that has a complete devotion to his duty, and lives a solo existence – facets of a character that really interest him.

Dewan added that the story touches on a religious elements such as the bloodline of Jesus Christ and more, which interest her, and said that it’s nice to do something that will raise awareness while pairing it with an action-adventure story.

Hawkins said that both Dewan and Goss are very into their parts already and devoted to the project, and not about to walk through their parts, as has happened in other action films starring female action heroes.

Q: Will The Freshmen be turned into a film?

Green said that since he and Sterbakov both like movies, it’s just a matter of making it at the right time with the right people. “Take my word for it that we are trying to figure out who those people are and when that time is,” Green said with a laugh. “We want to, but when it’s the right time.”

Sterbakov added that more Freshmen comics will be coming.

Q: Will Witchblade or other characters appear in the Magdalena film?

Hawkins said probably not, given that the various characters’ films are at different studios.

Hawkins then asked Ventimiglia and Cundiff (who bought the Berserker property from Loverd) why they bought it.

The two explained that Cundiff had begun telling them his idea for the story, and both immediately thought it was amazing, and saw where it could be taken. First and foremost, Ventimiglia said, they hope the pairing with Top Cow will help them be able to make a great film.

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