2012 might be the best time to become a new Top Cow fan, just in time for its 20th anniversary. The company and its core titles -- Witchblade, The Darkness, and Artifacts -- are headed for a new era called, appropriately enough, "Rebirth." MTV Geek chatted with Top Cow publisher Filip Sablik to get the scoop.
MTV Geek: Witchblade and The Darkness are entering a new era on 2012 -- why is this the best time for new readers to hop on these titles?
Filip Sablik: I think you hit the nail on the head there, it is a new era for both character and the Top Cow Universe itself. It's something we've grouped together under the heading of REBIRTH. The REBIRTH initiative evokes both the literal rebirth the TCU is undergoing after the world-changing Artifacts event, but also the rebirth each of the titles are undergoing creatively. With Witchblade 151, Tim Seeley and Diego Bernard are offering up a ground level entry point for new readers by giving Sara a new status quo. Sara is starting a new life in a new city with a new job, so new readers will be discovering what her life is like at the same time as longtime readers are. The Darkness, beginning in issue 101, will offer up a similar departure from what longtime readers know when David Hine and Jeremy Haun take over. You really don't need to have read anything prior to these issues because it's a whole new world.
Geek: Reflecting on ithe publisher's 20th anniversary, why are Top Cow comics still so relevant to today's readers?
FS: Great question. We're telling stories that appeal to not only traditional superhero fans, but readers from outside of comics. The person who watches Fringe is much more likely to get pulled into Witchblade than The Avengers. The person watching Boardwalk Empire or American Horror Story should be able to make a quicker connection with The Darkness than Batman in my mind. I think because we focus on genre material - procedural, horror, action adventure - and our characters tend to be grounded with real names, spending most of their times in street clothes, and are the anomaly in their world rather than the norm. Readers get something they don't get in many other comics, which is actual change. Superhero comics are about the illusion of change, but in our titles characters grow, evolve, and actually change. Top Cow also offers up an alternative to the Big Two, with a shared universe that gives fans that soap-operatic quality we all love, but in a much more accessible fashion. I don't think it can be over-stated - we give fans an entire world of stories in three or four series.
The cover of Witchblade #151
Geek: How has Witchblade entered the pantheon of iconic superhero characters, and why is her book a must-read for fans of comics and sci-fi?
FS: Sara Pezzini and the Witchblade are definitely in the pantheon of what we call the "mini-major icons" around the office. She's one of those characters that has stood the test of time and managed to branch out beyond just the medium of comics. And while others have had longer runs in the past, I think it's worth noting that Witchblade is one of the longest running female lead comic series. That alone should make it something readers check out, but the real reason is because it's one of the most consistent, high quality series on the stands. I know some people reading this will scoff at the idea, but I'd venture to say most of them haven't read Witchblade in the last 7 years. Ron Marz really elevated the series and Tim Seeley is planning on continuing that great level of quality. Tim has a fantastic hard-boiled detective story mashed up with supernatural, occult elements that really make Witchblade a unique title on the stands today.
The cover to Artifacts #14
Geek: Artifacts is becoming an ongoing series starting with issue #14. How would you describe this title? Team book? Ensemble book? A slice of the Top Cow universe that ties the whole thing together?
FS: I think ensemble book is the most apt description. Artifacts will tell the ongoing story of the Top Cow Universe on a larger level than either Witchblade or The Darkness. It really is an organic extension of the event Ron wrote. Initially, Tom Judge will be the primary character that the reader explores the story through, but over time we'll bring in other characters into the series. Some will be familiar, some will be new, and some will be familiar... yet new. Sara and Jackie will definitely make appearances as well.
The cover to The Darkness #101
Geek: The Darkness II video game is hitting stores in 2012. What is it about Jackie Estacado and his mythos that makes him such an enduring character in multiple media?
FS: A big part of Jackie's appeal and endurance is the element of wish fulfillment that Marc Silvestri, Garth Ennis and David Wohl injected into the character. It's a big part of why he works so well as a video game character - you want to be this guy. The power, the attitude, and his own code of rules are all appealing on a core level. At the same time, there's a great element of tragedy and curse associated with him, because he can't really ever have the one thing he wants, which is a normal life and a family. Although we'll be playing a bit with that dynamic beginning in The Darkness 101 and having some fun messing with Jackie's world.
Geek: OK, you've sold this reader on the "New" Top Cow -- what issues do I need to buy to start? And are they available in digital?
FS: The first jumping on point has just hit stores, Witchblade #151. The next one will be Artifacts #14, which will be out in early February by Ron Marz and Stjepan Sejic. And then the final jumping on point will be in March when David Hine and Jeremy Haun bring us The Darkness #101. If you are interested in reading about the lead up to REBIRTH, you can pick up Artifacts in three trade paperback collections. The first two are available now and the third and final volume will be out in about a month's time. Digitally, our comics are available through about a dozen sources including through comiXology and Graphicly, which both have apps, digital web stores, and are available through devices like iOS, Android, Kindle, and Nook. We're also available on the Comics+ app, Wowio.com, DriveThruComics.com, MyDigitalComics.com, Kobo, and a number of other outlets and platforms.