By Filip Sablik
Publisher, Top Cow Productions, Inc.
It’s Autumn again. Where did 2010 go, friends? Seriously it seems like only yesterday I was playing video poker at the Hard Rock Café Casino to finish out 2009. I swear it was only minutes ago I was finalizing plans for San Diego Comic-Con and feeling the cold sweat inducing panic of hard printing deadlines rushing headlong at my deer-in-the-headlights expression.
Autumn 2010 means cooler weather (for you poor suckers who live in four seasons), mid-term elections, the return of pumpkin as the flavor-du-jour on everything from your latte to your ice cream, and a new crop of TV pilots hoping for at least one good season in the sun. For us at Top Cow it also means its time for a new crop of Pilot Season comics.
This year we have five different new concepts by five unique creative teams. A mix of season pros and wet-behind-the-ears newcomers fighting for your attention and trying to create something you haven’t seen before. So much of the comics released in recent years have been about nostalgia. I get it. Nostalgia is a warm blanket, a comforting hot cup of cocoa. It reminds us of better, bygone days in troubled times. We know what we’re going to get and what to expect. But I’m here to challenge you take a chance on the new. Stretch past your comfort zone and reach to discover a different genre or an undiscovered creator.
On Wednesday, Pilot Season: 39 Minutes #1 hit stands. It’s by Impaler writer and creator William Harms, who is a seriously under-exposed talent. Harms hits you hard with a twist on a classic genre – the bank heist. A group of bank robbers is hitting small towns in the Midwest and pulling off daring bank heists by treating each job like a military mission. Meanwhile, John Clayton is rotting in Leavenworth for killing a group of military contractors in a friendly fire incident in Iraq. Clayton’s approached by a government agent who tells him they believe the bank robbers are men previously under Clayton’s command. Bank robberies, rocket launchers, and a story about what our brave men and women go through overseas. That’s an original combo. The art team of newcomer Jerry Lando and veterans Jay Leisten and Brian Buccellato is pretty darn compelling too. Check it out; you won’t be able to miss the striking Rafael Albuquerque cover.
Next week, we deliver a book that I’m biased about Pilot Season: Asset #1. Why? Because I created it and wrote it, that’s why. It’s my first solo full issue writing gig, so I’m incredibly proud of it. I’m even happier that I snagged David Marquez and Bill Farmer to provide the interior art and Harvey-nominated cover art Jenny Frison. Here’s the way I sold it to David, it’s “You’ve Got Mail” mashed together with “Spy Game.” Romance and espionage! Our main character is a beautiful, mysterious woman named Madeline, who our main guy, Doug, meets on an online dating site. The catch is she isn’t who she seems and she might be trying to get Doug killed. A femme fatale for the digital age, whose philosophy is, “love isn’t a battlefield, it’s a weapon.”
The first week of October, will see the release of Pilot Season: Crosshair #1 from creator Marc Silvestri and writer Jeff Katz. Imagine that Captain Marko and Raymond Shaw from the “Manchurian Candidate” (the Frankenheimer classic not the crappy remake) are one and the same guy. Justin Weller is an ex-CIA assassin that is so fractured from years of programming that he is both an evil assassin reactivated and the only man who can stop… himself. With stellar, realistic art from Allan Jefferson, Jordi Terragona, and Michael Atiyeh this book is going to feel like a summer action blockbuster on speed. If the brilliant “Manchurian Candidate” hook doesn’t grab you, I have two words for you… suburban parkour. Bam! You’re in, right?
The second week of October, Pilot Season: Forever #1 will make you even more afraid of big pharmaceutical companies. In the near future, a company creates a drug called Longevity™, which allows human beings to extend their lives indefinitely… for a price. Not only is the drug incredibly expensive, widening our already huge social-economic gap, but it has a hidden cost that young tech Ryan Chambers is about to discover – the hard way. Created by Matt Hawkins and written by screenwriter Brad Ingelsby with art by Thomas Nachlik and Nathan Fairbairn (and a haunting cover by Bagus Hutomo) this book gives you medical conspiracies, action, and sci-fi all in one convenient bundle.
And finally, in the third week of October, we bring in the heavy hitter. Pilot Season: 7 Days From Hell #1 is another genre-bending concept from the dynamic writing team of Bryan Edward Hill and Rob Levin. Contract killer John Bishop is awesome at his job, but even the best assassins eventually wind up on the wrong side of the barrel. Bishop dies and goes to Hell, where he meets a sexy demon named Mandy (that’s right, a demon named Mandy). Mandy offers up a deal – help her get back into God’s good graces by killing a bad person every 7 days or suffer eternally in Hell. It’s like Jason Bourne got sucked into “Angelheart.” Oh, and the heavy hitting part I mentioned before? How about a Brian Stelfreeze cover and Phil Noto on interiors? Now, that’s hard to compete with!
So, it’s up to you now. Sure it’s easier to just go with what you know, but ask yourself do you want another dose of the “same old, same old” that’s kind of okay? Or do you want a big spoonful of new and awesome?
After all five books come out; we’ll start online voting at the end of October. You get to pick the series you enjoyed the best and tell us what to publish. Your vote counts! How often does that happen these days?
Filip Sablik is the Publisher of Top Cow Productions, Inc. He’s been in the business for ten years and is in his thirties. Occasionally, he does a bit of writing and drawing. He loves comics.
Top Cow Productions, Inc. was founded by Marc Silvestri, co-founder of Image Comics. Top Cow currently publishes its line of comic books in 21 languages in over 55 different countries. The company has launched 20 franchises (18 original and two licensed) in the industry’s Top 10, seven at #1, a feat accomplished by no other publisher in the last two decades.