39 MINUTES Creative Team on Their Top Cow PILOT SEASON Win

Released over the course of five consecutive weeks, Top Cow’s 2010 Pilot Season books showed the most dynamic range in stories in the yearly event’s four year history. But in the end, only one could win — and that was 39 Minutes by writer William Harms and artist Jerry Lando. During our interview with the duo back in October, 39 Minutes was described as “a crime book about robbers who not only rob banks, but entire towns.” Targeting small, isolated towns, these former soldiers go into business for themselves by emptying entire towns before the authorities have time to respond. After a string of these, the U.S. Government brings in the only man they think who can stop these former soldiers — their old leader, currently incarcerated in a military prison for sticking to his morals during a tour of Iraq.

Released on September 22 as the first of five one-shots in this year’s line-up, 39 Minutes was also put online — for free — at Newsarama.com. For more, we talked to the 39 Minutes pair fresh off the win of Pilot Season 2010.


Nrama: Congratulations on the win, guys. How did you find out 39 Minutes won — and what did you do when you found out?

Harms: I think Atom Freeman sent me an email saying that we’d won. I was at work when I found out, so I really couldn’t do a full-blown happy dance or anything, but I was very excited. I emailed Jerry to make sure he’d heard the news.

Lando: I received an e-mail from Top Cow Marketing Assistant Christine Dinh congratulating us on winning Pilot Season 2010, and I was thrilled!

Nrama: Take us back to that original pitch. You were pitching for Pilot Season, so you knew that it could get the green light for an ongoing. Did you write down ideas for where this could go next, way back when?

Harms: The funny thing is that I was originally going to write a completely different book for Pilot Season. At the last minute, I emailed Filip and Matt with the 39 Minutes pitch just to see if it’d be something they’d want to publish down the road, and Matt said he liked 39 Minutes better. So that’s how it ended up in the line-up.

When I first conceived 39 Minutes, all I had was the basic premise – a group of bad-asses roam around middle America and rob banks in small towns. I knew they’d kill all of the cops, but it took me a long time to figure out who those guys were and who (beyond the FBI) was trying to stop them. When I settled on them being ex-soldiers, the rest came pretty quickly – I knew that their ex-CO was going to be brought in to bring them down, and that the head of a military contractor (who’s also the father of a man the soldiers killed in Iraq) would be looming in the background, pulling strings.

Nrama: You two faced some stiff competition, including some of the titles being written by current and former Top Cow staffers. What was your methodology during the voting process to get out the vote without turning into a huckster?

Lando: It really helps to be involved on a project with William Harms, he has a large and devoted group of fans-I'm sure that was a major factor in getting the votes that we received.  I also did a few store signings locally and tried to get votes that way.   I also had a little interview for my local newspaper mentioning Pilot Season, and I'm sure that helped too.


Nrama: Have you sat down with Jerry and/or Top Cow and put thought into the 39 Minutes miniseries?

Harms: I had some general notes after I finished the first draft of the script, but after meeting with Matt at [Comic-Con International in San Diego] and bouncing some ideas off of him, I decided to sit down and plan out the entire story. I think people are going to be really surprised where the story goes.

Lando: I haven't had the chance to find out from William what he has in store next for 39 Minutes, although I'm sure I'll be finding out very soon.

Nrama: Tell me this then, Jerry – what would you like to see in the upcoming 39 Minutes miniseries?

Lando: I'm interested in seeing Clayton go toe to toe with Bishop and the rest of his ex-team mates, and what the Hammer Corporation has up their sleeve.

Nrama: You two got a 39 Minutes miniseries in your future, but what else are you working on?

Lando: I'm currently developing some ideas to pitch to various publishers, along with working up some test pages for Marvel.

Harms: I’ve got quite a few projects lined up for next year, including a one-shot for Marvel, a limited series [elsewhere], and a limited series for Dynamite. Unfortunately, none of those have been announced so I really can’t say more than that. On the creator-owned front, I’m finalizing a pitch for a book that I hope to do through Image. The art’s by an artist named Ed Pun (we worked together on the game infamous) and the pages he’s producing are really fantastic. It’s going to be a lot of fun to work on.

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