Joshua Hale Fialkov currently doesn’t have a second to breathe. The busy creator just finished up his Top Cow series Echoes, to great critical acclaim, is launching an Image series in October called Last of the Greats, and if that wasn’t enough, is helming one of DC’s New 52 titles, a relaunch of the romance/horror comic I, Vampire. Oh, and he took some time to chat with us, too, so that’s pretty nice:

MTV Geek: Okay, Josh… Let’s talk about Echoes. That book seems to have done pretty well for you, huh?

Joshua Hale Fialkov: Well, the reaction has been amazing. We're in the triple digits as far as positive reviews go, and, our first issue sold out. That being said, getting people on board an independent comic is a Sisyphean task. Our industry is just not set up for risky books. And nobody's to blame for that, really. Well, except for, maybe, all of us.

Geek: For people who haven’t picked up the book yet, what’s the pitchline?

JHF: ECHOES is about a guy named Brian Cohn who suffers from schizophrenia who finds out from his schizophrenic father, on his deathbed, that he was a prolific serial killer. This of course completely unhinges Brian who's schizophrenia spirals out of control, and is made even worse when his father's murders start up again. It's a psychological thriller with some pretty grizzly horror thrown in for good measure. Read More...

Who wants to see a Darkness movie?

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Following the recent announcement at San Diego Comic-Con 2011 that Hack/Slash creator Tim Seeley would be taking over Witchblade with issue 151, we thought it was about time that we checked in with the man behind the woman who kills slashers. Besides following Ron Marz on a lengthy, six-year run on the flagship Top Cow title, Seeley is also dropping Hack/Slash lead Cassandra Hack into a crossover with venerable swamp-based film slasher Victor Crowley from writer-director Adam Green's Hatchet series of films in Hack/Slash Annual #3.

We spoke with Seeley by e-mail recently about what's next for Cassie, the casting of a new voice actress for the HALO-8 motion comic, and his big plans for Sara over in Witchblade.

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Darkness-wielding anithero Jackie Estacado causes some mayhem at a carnival in these latest shots from the upcoming game.

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The Darkness’ mob hitman-turned magically-empowered killer Jackie Estacados’ life will be getting a lot more complicated in writer Phil Hester’s current arc on Top Cow’s long-running series called “Outer Darkness.” Starting in March’s issue #90, Jackie has found himself unable to catch his breath after finally taking out his longtime nemesis, the Sovereign. Now, with assassins on his tail and traitors in his midst he’s got an even bigger problem: The Darkness, the lethal, morphing “suit” that he controls, has decided that perhaps Jackie isn’t the best host.

Phil Hester was kind enough to talk to MTV Geek about his current—and last—story arc for The Darkness, which will culminate in the series’ landmark 100th issue in 2012. Read More...

Digital Extremes Project Manager Sheldon Carter is really, really excited about The Darkness II, the upcoming video game based on the popular series of comics from Top Cow. And, according to Carter, the game's sticking to its comic book origins:

"We drew inspiration directly from the comic books. We looked at each page with its big splashes of color and high-contrast, and we wanted to bring that to the game...and I believe we have!"

While some video games may seem sort of disconnected from the comics that inspired them, Carter believes that the story of The Darkness "is actually perfect for video games, because it's really power-fantasy at its base" --

"The Darkness always had this powerful story between Jackie and Jenny that resonates with everyone...and on the flipside there's this power fantasy of being able to do anything in the dark, and the ability to punish your enemies with this power."

There's going to be plenty of mayhem and violent action in The Darkness II, cranked up a notch with the addition of a feature called "Quad Wielding" --

"You've got at your fingertips both guns and both demon arms all at the same time...It really lets you be a whirlwind of death!"

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Earlier this week, we brought you the new trailer for 2K Games’ sequel to The Darkness titled appropriately enough The Darkness II. The game won’t be out until October, but you can get a little taste of what’s in store for lead character Jackie Estacado in Top Cow’s Free Comic Book Day entry, The Darkness II: Confession. The issue was written by Filip Sablik and Matt Hawkins, with art by Michael Broussard and Romano Molenaar, and is being used by Top Cow and 2K to provide a bridge between the first and second games given the two year gap between the stories.

Sablik, a writer and artist who has worked on Top Cow’s Pilot Season: Asset and Last Mortal was happy to provide MTV Geek with a little insight into the issue—which, if you haven’t heard by now, is free—while trying to avoid any sort of spoilers for the upcoming game.

MTV Geek: Could you tell us a little about the story you’ve chosen to tell for The Darkness II: Confession? What does “the confession” refer to?

Filip Sablik: We wanted this comic to act as both a prologue to The Darkness II, but also act as a bridge from the first game to the second. If you are a fan of the comic, but haven’t played the game, the comic is intended to be an entry point. If you’re a gamer, but not familiar with The Darkness, this comic is meant to serve as an introduction to Jackie and his world. So that was the challenge we gave ourselves, but we also wanted to make the story interesting as a stand-alone comic. Otherwise you end up with something that’s just purely expositional and we’ve got Wikipedia for that!

The story opens with Jackie Estacado, bearer of the Darkness, visiting the grave of his one true love, Jenny Romano and basically pouring his heart out to her. Jackie and Jenny were raised in a Catholic orphanage, and while Jackie has grown up to be a hitman working for the mob, like many people brought up in that tradition he has the idea of confession and penance engrained in him on a deeper level. He’s been struggling lately with his conscience and since Jenny was the one pure soul in his life, he goes to give a confession of sorts to her in hopes of finding some absolution and peace.

Geek: It’s been two years between the first and second game. How has that interval—and becoming a Don—affected Jackie?

FS: Jackie has been through a number of changes, many of which will be revealed in the game, but the two biggest changes, which I can talk about, are that he’s become the Don of the Estacado family and that he’s kept the Darkness chained within himself for two years. In the first game, Jackie took out his Uncle Paulie, the head of the Franchetti crime family, who was responsible for Jenny’s death. Changing the name of the family to the Estacado family is kind of Jackie’s final middle finger to Paulie. And since the Darkness held Jackie back and prevented him from saving Jenny from Paulie, Jackie sees keeping it locked in himself as the only way he can punish the Darkness. As you can imagine, after two years, the Darkness is NOT happy about this.

Geek: Are there any characters from Confession who might make their way into the game?

FS: Not that I can comment on.

Geek: Why is this book a good introduction to The Darkness game and comic?

FS: It’s a great introduction for the game. Most importantly, it really gives you a sense of Jackie as a character and what his mindset is before the beginning of The Darkness II. It also gives you a sense of what came before in the first game – how Jackie inherited the power of the Darkness, his relationship with Jenny and Paulie, and how he came to control the Darkness. The developers at Digital Extremes and producers at 2K Games did a phenomenal job of making The Darkness II very accessible for new players, but any time you do a sequel there are some folks who want to know what came before. The comic provides a great way to jump in without necessarily having to replay the hours it would take to get through the first game.
For us, it also gives a great opportunity for Top Cow to spotlight what makes the Darkness and Jackie Estacado such a compelling comic franchise. One of the goals of Free Comic Book Day is to bring in NEW comic customers and we think that by partnering with 2K we have the opportunity to do just that with the gaming community. Read More...

This July, artist Tyler Kirkham (Green Lantern Corps, Amazing Spider-Man) and writer Jason Rubin’s (The Iron Saint) supernatural thriller Mysterious Ways will be hitting shelves through Top Cow. Featuring Top Cow’s signature brand of supernatural action mixed with gritty, street-level drama, the story involves a down and out cop named Sam who becomes convinced that he should do the Lord’s work—which just happens to be committing brutal murders.

From the official solicitation:

Mysterious Ways is a story that follows a brutal yet reluctant serial killer convinced that he is doing God's work by wantonly slaughtering innocent women. We follow our executioner as he comes to grips with what he believes is his gruesome responsibility, searches for clues to his obsession, performs his ghastly crimes, and evades capture and death while the authorities doggedly pursue him in an attempt to end the butchery. It might be a classic crime story, a standard tale of cop vs. criminal, of right vs. wrong. It might be, but it isn’t. Because this time the serial killer really is doing God's bidding.

Kirkham was kind enough to answer a few questions for MTV Geek about the book as well as some of his upcoming work.

MTV Geek: Could you tell us a little about Mysterious Ways and how you got involved with the book?

Tyler Kirkham: Mysterious Ways is a crime thriller with a dark religious twist. That’s about all I want to reveal.

The editors at Top Cow asked me if it was a book I'd be interested in doing. It was a new challenge for me. I had never drawn this dark of a book before and I really wanted to take a stab at it—no pun intended. I wanted to draw a more gritty dark style book. I had been doing mostly superhero stuff and thought this would be a fun change of pace. Also when they told me Jason Rubin created and wrote it I got really excited. I knew Jason's video game work and I read his other comic series, The Iron Saint. Read More...

"Drinking and naming a company don't mix," Top Cow CEO Marc Silvestri cautions at the beginning of our studio tour with the publisher. All joking aside, as you'll see in the videos below, Top Cow has a very long and distinguished career in comics...virtually producing from their studio many of the hottest artists today. It all started in 1992 with the founding of Image Comics, when 7 talented comic book artists, including Silvestri, broke away from Marvel Comics and started their own company. Within Image each artist had their own company, and Silvestri's was Top Cow.

"To be polite, it was kind of an F-You to the status quo," Silvestri says in the 2-part video. "The status-quo back then was: we literally created all these characters for the two biggest publishers -- the pretty much 2 only publishers that mattered in comics back then, Marvel and DC. They had the biggest characters, they were the biggest gorillas, and you either worked with them or you didn't work in comics."

Now the highly-successful comics publisher of a number of high-profile titles like Witchblade and The Darkness, Top Cow has also seen their properties appear in everything from video games to TV shows and toys. Check out our studio tour below to learn about the inspiring story of Top Cow Publishing! Read More...

Top Cow and 2K Games are partnering up to present an exciting comic book based on their new video game The Darkness II. Called The Darkness II: Confession, the comic will be a prequel to the highly anticipated video game coming out in Fall 2011. Read below for more details!

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Publisher Filip Sablik, The Darkness writer Phil Hester, and Artifacts artist Jeremy Haun were on-hand this weekend to tell C2E2 attendees all about the world of Top Cow in 2011

Sablik started with a slideshow of Artifacts preview art by new artist Haun, including a rather spoilery upcoming cover featuring a baby. Haun commented on what it was like to be working on a project with the scope of Artifacts:

"It's as intimidating as hell, but that's part of the fun...I'm used to drawing a lot of people talking in rooms, and it's cool to be able to draw people fighting or f**king."

Speaking of Artifacts, the giveaway playing cards are ready to ship to Diamond -- and just to add an incentive to an incentive, for every 10 sets one will have a gold foil stamp on the back.

Another cool giveaway for readers will be Witchblade #144's matching digital download card. The issue will be the first retelling of Sara's origin since the beginning of the series.

Somebody who will be having a big year in 2011 is Jackie Estacado, as The Darknessgears up for a soul-shattering 100th issue. Sablik commented: "The Darkness is going to have a pretty awesome year" -- to which Hester added: "Awesome for us...sh**ty for Jack." The upcoming arc leading to #100 (with Haun on art) will be "a status quo changer for The Darkness," leaving him "permanently changed."

"We’re going to dump in everyting you wanted," teased Hester. "Anybody you want to see die, we’ll kill, any scores you want settled, we'll settle." Also expect the return of fan-favorite Darkness characters as the landmark issue gets closer. Read More...

We’ve all dreamt about living forever, but Alec King has the unfortunate luck of actually doing so.

Friends since the sixth grade, John Mahoney and Filip Sablik came up for the idea for Last Mortal in high school. The miniseries tells the story of Alec, a typical 20-something loser who can’t get anything right. His slick friend Brian has often gotten him in and out of trouble, but recent problems with the mob now leave Alec in an impossible situation. A job that should clear Brian’s debt winds up getting him killed and Alec, filled with despair, ends up shooting himself in the head. Imagine his surprise when he wakes up!

Last Mortal, the second title released under Minotaur Press, debuts May 25th. With stunning black and white art by Thomas Nachlik, the four issue miniseries promises an interesting look at the concept of immortality. MTV Geek chatted with writers Mahoney and Sablik about their inspiration, Minotaur Press, and their lifelong friendship. Read More...

The crew at the Top Cow panel was pretty eager about the slate of titles coming down the pipe in 2011. Representing the line were writers Ron Marz (Artifacts, Witchblade) and Joshua Hale Fialkov (Echoes), along with artists Nelson Blake II (Magdalena), Jeremy Haun (Artifacts), Tony Shasteen (Netherworld), John Tyler Christopher (Artifacts).

There was actually quite a bit of time spent on Artifacts, with several covers by artist John Tyler Christopher being shown during the presentation. Of the supernatural action series, Marz says that the work through issue 5 by interior artist Whilce Portacio is “some of his best since his days on X-Men.” An upcoming arc starting with issue 9 will be drawn by Jeremy Haun, with the decision to use a different artist reflecting an attempt to give arc a different personality. The artist was actually given the daunting note in the script to his first issue to “create a new universe.”

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Artifacts, the popular 13-issue limited series from Top Cow featuring Witchblade and the Darkness, is welcoming a new member to the team with issue #9. Detective Comics/Arkham Reborn artist Jeremy Haun joins fan-favorite writer Ron Marz on the newest arc! Hailed as the ultimate comics event, Artifacts has received glowing reviews from fans and creators alike – and Haun, following in the esteemed footsteps of Michael Broussard and Whilce Portacio, will no doubt bring a unique viewpoint to the series.

Artifacts reunites Sara Pezzini, NYPD detective and bearer of the Witchblade, and Jackie Estacado, gangster and bearer of the Darkness, as they search for their kidnapped daughter, Hope. As the search intensifies, other Artifact bearers like Ripclaw and Nottingham join in the action. Marz presents a series that new readers can follow and enjoy without knowing the history of the Top Cow universe. MTV Geek spoke to Haun and Marz about their experiences with Artifacts, their favorite characters to work with, and which Artifact they would choose to wield.

MTV Geek: Artifacts has attracted a lot of attention and fans over the past few months. How does it feel to work on such a unique title?

Jeremy Haun: I'm absolutely honored to be working on Artifacts. It's a HUGE book. As a reader I was excited about the book and have read it from issue one. At the time, I'd only just started talking about going exclusive with Top Cow, but I kept thinking, "MAN I wish I was drawing this book!". It's such an epic concept and a truly good story. I couldn't be more excited to be the guy that finishes it up. I'm part of something really special. Of course, I have to follow up and live up to all of the amazing work that Michael Broussard and Whilce Portacio have already brought to the series. That's QUITE a feat. Artifacts is a chance for me to really spread my wings artistically. It's exactly the type of thing I've been wanting to do for a while now. I'm going to work my ass off to do it right!

Geek: Which Artifacts character has been the most entertaining to draw? Do you prefer exploring explosive action scenes or the quieter moments?

JH: I'm really loving drawing Tom Judge. He's just a cool, iconic character. I could pretty much draw him forever. He's fun in both just normal and his cracked and craggy "Rapture" mode. Honestly though, all of these characters are a lot of fun. One of the great things about the Top Cow universe is that these characters have one foot in the real world with a cool visual flare. Everyone from Ripclaw to Nottingham are really visually appealing. And of course, I love drawing the Darkness. I mean, I'd better get used to drawing Jackie. I'm definitely going to be doing it for a good long while.

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Recently, we brought you news about Top Cow’s upcoming supernatural noir tale, Netherworld which hits shelves on April 13. Written by Rob Levin and Bryan Edward Hill, the minds behind Pilot Season: 7 Days From Hell and Broken Trinity: Pandora’s Box, the specifics of the story have been kept under wraps by the creators, but some details have been tantalizingly teased. Art is being handled by the art team of Tony Shasteen and colorist JD Mettler who were behind Witchblade: Annual and Stephen King’s Talisman.

Some of you may remember the enigmatic “We Are All Lost” teaser trailer that made its way around the net recently—that’s Netherworld-related stuff right there, put out in the wild in order to enhance the mystery of the book. The video—a little over a minute of various urban locations with “We are all lost” postered in highly-visible locations—ties into the story in ways that at this point remain unclear. There is the sense, from speaking with the authors, that there’s something inside of and underneath the skin of Netherworld that’s waiting to get out in the story:

Rob Levin: I think the actual phrase was something Bryan came up with. We were working on the outline and the idea of having a message on the walls of this city came about. The idea was that something many people were feeling would also be whispered in the streets, and if you stopped to look around for a second you’d realize you weren’t alone in thinking this. I think “We Are All Lost” was the first line we tried and it went through several variations before coming back to the current tag. The meaning, of course, is better left to discover through the book, but the feeling the marketing material incorporating the tag gives off is definitely the vibe we’re after for this project. Read More...

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