CCI: The Top Cow: 'We Create' Media Panel

A herd of devoted fans flocked into a packed room for the Top Cow: "We Create" Multimedia panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Saturday, sitting before a panel consisting of Top Cow publisher Filip Sablik, president Matt Hawkins, CEO Marc Silvestri and American Original founder Jeff Katz, with plenty of guest panelists and prominent announcements to follow.

The Top Cow panelists kicked things off with a first look at a trailer cut specifically for Comic-Con. Featuring a flashy music video with quick cuts, concert footage and all sorts of burning fanfare, the trailer teased a project built around September Mourning front woman Emily Lazar that's billed as a cross-media entertainment endeavor across comic books, digital downloads, video games, jewelry and much more. Lazar briefly joined the panelists on stage and Silvestri described the mysterious project, saying: "It's coming out real fast and we're going to start teasing it out through the Top Cow Universe. If David Bowie had technology today, this would be Ziggy Stardust."

Although he wouldn't tip his hand on what exactly the Lazar-centric project entails, Silvestri made a promise to the panel's attendees. "I'm being very genuine here," he said. "You're going to remember this day."

The panel shifted to American Original's Jeff Katz, who identified Miami Heat star Duane Wade as a new financial backer for the company. As part of Wade's involvement, American Original is launching a new property called "Carnegie," a comic book co-written by the "Broken Trinity: Pandora's Box" team of Bryan Edward Hill and Rob Levin. The co-writers took the stage to describe their tale, which supposes that historic philanthropist Andrew Carnegie used his money and resources to train young, lost people to become covert operatives working for him, not the government. Drawing inspiration from Ian Fleming and other spy genre masters, Hill promised: "We're really building a mythology here. It's not a simple action piece - there's a philosophy here."

Katz announced another new project called "Crosshair," which he's co-writing with Marc Silvestri along with art by Allan Jefferson. The first announced title from "Pilot Season 2010," Katz and Silvestri's "Crosshair" shares ties with spy thrillers such as "The Bourne Identity" and, to a greater extent, "The Manchurian Candidate." Although the plot remains under wraps for now, Silvestri teased that the concept stems from wondering if the bad guy from "The Manchurian Candidate" was also the hero. The first issue promises to "blow the shit up out of suburbia," namely Katz's hometown of Franklin, Michigan. Stay tuned to CBR News in the coming days for more information on the project.

"Crosshair" has already been sold as a film to Mandeville Films, the same production company working on Top Cow's "Alibi" feature film. "That's never really happened where we come with a preview book this early in development and they jumped on it," said Hawkins, who added that the plan is to film "Alibi" next year and "Crosshair" the year after that.

Continuing to pull back the curtain on "Pilot Season," Sablik revealed his own title called "The Asset," the first project he's ever written for Top Cow. "I'm really thrilled that Marc and Matt are letting me play in the creative playground a bit," he said, describing "The Asset" as a femme fatale story for the digital age focusing on Madeline, a veritable black widow who uses the World Wide Web to lure her prey.

Up next on the "Pilot Season" list was "7 Days From Hell," co-written by Levin and Hill. "It's about an assassin who gets killed and goes to hell, but he's rescued by an angel who gives him a choice - go to hell or work for me," said Hill. The protagonist has seven days to find targets for the demonic angel, and if he accomplishes his mission, he stays out of hell. "It's brutal, sexy and intense."

Silvestri's "Midway Earth" is a project 15 years in the making, according to the Top Cow CEO. Featuring art from Stjepan Sejic, Silvestri described the story as an alien invasion with a bit of a twist. "We're being invaded, but the invaders don't give a rat's ass about us," he said. "It's a war between two intergalactic species that's gone on for over 1000 years, and the one piece of real estate that they need is Earth. We're caught in the middle of two races that don't care that we're here. They just want this rock." In the midst of the high concept science fiction action is a more intimiate love story.

Another "Pilot Season" title is "39 Minutes," written by William Harms and illustrated by Jerry Landon. A heist story, "39 Minutes" focuses on a group of ex-Special Forces soldiers who target towns with 10 to 12 cops. After robbing a bank, the team ambushes and kills the entirety of the town's police force and take the next 39 minutes to finish the robbery and get out of town. The story focuses on the imprisoned former leader of the Special Forces team, who is offered a shot at redemption by bringing the bank robbers to justice.

The final "Pilot Season" book is called "Forever," created by Hawkins and written by screenwriter Brad Ingelsby with art from Thomas Nachlik. The story focuses on pharmaceutical company Longevity's development of a drug that extends human life and essentially does away with aging, but only the extremely wealthy portion of society can afford the drug. Hawkins told the audience that "Forever" is currently in development as a feature film through Mandeville Films.

Next, Ron Marz and Phil Hester were called to the stage to speak about the Top Cow Universe, specifically the freshly launched "Artifacts" 13-issue limited series. Marz described the first issue as "the heartwarming story of a beloved supporting character getting shot in the face," promising that "Artifacts" is a legitimate game-changer for the status quo of the Top Cow Universe. Tune into CBR News next week for an extensive analysis of "Artifacts" #1 from Marz, Sablik and artist Michael Broussard.

"This is a toy box that means a lot to me. Over the years at Top Cow, we've made these characters and grown to love them," said Silvestri, who praised Marz and Hester for not only not breaking these toys, but actually making them cooler.

The roster of characters lurking about the Top Cow Universe will grow by one in the near future, as Top Cow announced the arrival of Dale Keown's "Pitt" to the publisher. Not only will the company release new trade paperbacks of previously published "Pitt" material, but Top Cow is also incorporating Pitt into its universe alongside other characters like Sara Pezzini and Jackie Estacado.

Indeed, the Top Cow team feels that they have lived up to their slogan of "we create," adding further proof with the announcement of the "Top Cow Bible Addendum." The 32-page prestige format comic features over 25 brand-new Top Cow properties introduced to the world for the very first time. One of the new properties to get the spotlight was "Mysterious Ways," a miniseries from "Crash Bandicoot" and "Jak & Daxter" mastermind Jason Rubin. Described as an exploration of the old phrase "God works in mysterious ways," the story focuses on not understanding what's right and wrong as told from the perspective of a serial killer who doesn't realize he's a serial killer. "Mysterious Ways" is illustrated by Tyler Kirkham, who recently signed an exclusive contract with DC Comics. Luckily, Kirkham has already completed his work on the six-issue "Mysterious Ways" series, and Top Cow promised that once the book is solicited, it'll come out as scheduled every time.

After announcing "Mysterious Ways," the panelists invited "Heroes" actor Milo Ventimiglia and his producing partner Russ Cundiff of DiVide Pictures up to the stage to announce the return of "Rest," which was previously published by Devil's Due Publishing. The remaining three issues of "Rest" are set to be released digitally in single issue format alongside the previously released "Rest" #0, #1 and #2. Additionally, the "Rest" trade paperback is set to arrive in October at New York Comic-Con. Further details on the digital release plan are forthcoming.

Towards the panel's conclusion, Top Cow announced the return of the Minotaur Press imprint, best known for series such as "Obergeist" by Tony Harris and Dan Jolley and "Felon" by Greg Rucka. The resurrection of Minotaur is intended to signal Top Cow's move to establish three distinct lines: the Top Cow Universe, a shared universe encompassing characters such as Sara Pezzini and Jackie Estacado; Top Cow Productions, a home for stand alone series such as "Mysterious Ways" and "Rest"; and Minotaur Press, an imprint for more independent-styled series. New titles include Joshua Hale Fialkov and Rahsan Ekedal's "Echoes" about a man who may have inherited his father's serial killing tendencies, and "Last Mortal," Filip Sablik, John Mahoney and Thomas Nachlik's new series about a small time criminal who discovers that he's immortal.

Finally, the panelists announced the development of a "Witchblade" video game through developers Buzz Monkey Software. CBR News has the details on the game's early stages of development.

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