CCI: Silvestri's Top Cow Panel

Top Cow President & COO Matt Hawkins, co-founder and fan favorite artist Marc Silvestri and "Artifacts" writer Ron Marz discussed the company's future in comics, music, the web and film at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

The panel launched with a heavy metal meets glam goth music video featuring Emily Lazar and her band "September Mourning." In association with MTV and Top Cow, the transmedia project will crossover into the online, sequential and music video format. The new album is currently released in Europe and is available for purchase on Amazon.com -- Silvestri promised, "It's badass!"

A Kickstarter campaign for Silvestri's original creation "Cyber Force" launched in the days following Comic-Con -- The five issue miniseries is a reboot of the franchise, featuring artist Khoi Pham on interiors, but Silvestri is also involved in artistic duties, including cover art.

The cover price for each issue is the low price of "free," and Hawkins and Silvestri assured fans the entire run will be intentionally uploaded onto torrent sites. "Don't fight City Hall, make City Hall work for you," Hawkins said. Silvestri elaborated on the project, comparing the notion of funding a free comic book on Kickstarter to public access television -- free content supported and paid for by a fraction of the people actually using it, allowing the project to become reality. If Top Cow earns more than their $75,000 goal, the "Cyber Force" series could continue being published for the same non-existent cover price beyond issue #5.

Christos Gage, writer of Marvel's "X-Men Legacy," joined the panel to discuss his new project, "Sunset." Gage described the book's leading man Nick Bellamy as a "Noir hero like Mike Hammer, but in the modern day." Bellamy's story is one of greed and revenge, and a free preview of the OGN is available on Top Cow's website. Silvestri joked, "We have the worst business model ever!"

The panelists announced a film deal for "The Darkness" is officially signed, and Len Wiseman of "Total Recall" and Todd Lieberman of "The Muppets" are in the process of developing a feature with Fox and Mandeville Films. 

After a 71 issue run on "Witchblade," Ron Marz has moved on to pen Top Cow's first ever universe spanning series, "Artifacts," a comic which "Explores the other corners of the Top Cow Universe," Marz said, adding, "It allows us to tell virtually any kind of story," from huge universe destroying epics to intimate character pieces.

It was fitting to have digital comics champion Mark Waid join the panelists to announce Top Cow's "Pilot Season" lineup being featured on his digital comics platform, Thrillbent. The upcoming "Pilot Season" comics are free, and the season winners are chosen via a tally of reader votes and page views, as opposed to a static poll. Waid joked to the other panelists, "Your business model sucks."

Hawkins closed the panel discussing his recently launched four issue miniseries "Think Tank" with artist Rahsan Ekedal. "This is the best thing I've ever done," Hawkins said.

On the book's leading man who's a brilliant slacker, Marz said, "In the space of one issue you don't really empathize with him, but you root for him."

Hawkins added, "And no, it's not free."

"Whose business model is that!?" said Silvestri.

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