CCI: Hawkins Comments on Top Cow's Big Announcements

Before Comic-Con International in San Diego even began, people were all abuzz about Top Cow's recent announcements. Head honcho Marc Silvestri told the world about the return of "Cyber Force," the title that launched his Image career back in 1992, but also that the series would be free to readers and funded by the crowd-sourced money raising website Kickstater. CBR News caught up with Top Cow President and Chief Operating Office Matt Hawkins about the Kickstater initiative then, but got ahold of him again after today's Top Cow panel in San Diego to discuss the rest of the publisher's new announcements.

In addition to talking about the "Cyber Force" relaunch, the assembled Herders also announced that the Cow would be holding a multifaceted talent search to bring in new writers and artists into the fold, team up with Mark Waid and John Rogers' digital comics platform Thrillbent to produce the next round of Pilot Season books and even a new, all-digital graphic novel by "Epic Kill" creator Raffaele Ienco called "Manifestations."

CBR News: "Cyber Force" was the team that kicked off Top Cow, were there always plans to bring them back into the fold post-Rebirth?

Matt Hawkins: We are very intentionally keeping the rest of the Top Cow Universe pretty far away from "Cyber Force" so we can build and ground it separately, but yes the "reboot" gave us a good reason to start over. There have been some spin-off miniseries done over the years by Ron Marz and Mark Waid but nothing that was a pure reboot. There are no plans in the first year to have the Artifacts stories cross with "Cyber Force." They do take place in the greater Top Cow Universe however.
What made artist Khoi Pham the best guy to help bring "Cyber Force" back into the Top Cow U?

Khoi was a former Marvel exclusive artist that Marc just really liked. We went through about 40 different possible artists before Marc approved him.

How are you, Marc and Khoi working together so far? Do you guys jam on ideas and then get to work on your individual parts?

Marc and I spend a lot of time together bouncing ideas and talking and we have been for almost six months. Khoi has only been on for the last couple months and has been brought into the creative loop pretty quickly. Most of his conversations are with Silvestri though.

Marc likes to bring in new artists and work with them, but Top Cow tend to stick with experienced writers. At today's panel you announced that there is a talent search in the works. What are you looking for in new writers and artists?

This is a very specific personal initiative for Marc and I both. I know and talk regularly to TONS of aspiring writers and artists and we just wanted to try and find some sort of mechanism to introduce a couple of them to actual published work and see if we can help jump start their careers. The whole plan will actually include calling attention to hundreds of aspiring artists and writers through some of our online initiatives. This will be a yearlong effort.

Does this hint at even more expansion in Top Cow's future? What kind of projects would the winners be working on?

The idea would [be] -- by mid-to-late 2013 -- to publish one shot tie-in books to our Artifacts universe. We haven't identified exactly what they would be, that will be part of the fun of the process.

You're working with Thrillbent, Mark Waid and John Rogers for the next round of Pilot Season comics. did you guys reach out to them or was it the other way around?

We reached out to them. I saw what Mark was doing and wanted to be part of that. Feedback from both fans and retailers was that Pilot Season was difficult to support in their stores because they didn't want to invest in the first issue of things that might not continue, which was how this was designed. So we listen and thought about it and hit Waid up with the idea of doing it free online through his new venture. He said yes and that, as they say, is that!

Are you guys going after specific creators this time around for Pilot Season? Is there any kind of theme?

There never has really been a theme other than the very first year where we tried to do new stuff with old Top Cow characters. I've always tried to have as many different "types"of books in there as possible to appeal or reach out to the broadest possible readership. We have about 100 projects we're looking at the intent is to announce early August what the line up will be.

Speaking of digital, what made "Manifestations" a good book to present in the digital only format?

I really like "Epic Kill" by Raffaele Ienco. Well done book. He had "Manifestations" completely finished and that was the way he pitched it to us as and we liked the idea. We've not done something like this before so again we're experimenting with new things and seeing what works and what doesn't. We're listing this at a $4.99 price point for a book with 122 pages of story and art. That's six potential individual comic books that would have been closer to $20 in retail.

"Cyber Force" returns to comic stores and digital devices in October and the Top Cow talent search begins in August both online and at conventions. Stay tuned to CBR News for more on Top Cow and its upcoming projects.

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