WC EXCLUSIVE: Top Cow Readies "Aphrodite V," "Sunstone" Companion Series "Swing"

This year's WonderCon is in Los Angeles, and though it may be a one-year only engagement, LA-based Top Cow Productions is taking advantage of the show being in the Image Comics partner studio's hometown.

Top Cow has five announcements planned for its "Top Cow Productions: From Then to Now" panel, scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the convention, and CBR has the exclusive scoop a day in advance. The Marc Silvestri-founded publisher has an "Aphrodite V" series on the way in late 2016/early 2017 from writer Bryan Hill and artist Jeffrey Spokes, taking place in the wake of "Cyber Force Rebirth" and "Cyber Force: Artifacts;" "Mercy," a five-volume sequel to Stjepan Šejić's "Suntone," is planned to debut in summer 2017; and "Swing," a "companion" series to "Sunstone" from Linda Šejić, Jenni Cheung and Top Cow President/CCO Matt Hawkins is slated for late fall 2016.

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Additionally, "Mechanism" by "Symmetry" artist Raffaele Ienco, which was originally announced last year as a Heavy Metal project, will debut at Top Cow in July. Finally, Top Cow has made some personnel moves, promoting Elena Salcedo to Director of Operations and adding Ashley V. Robinson (a 2013 Top Cow Talent Hunt winner) as an assistant editor, and comics journalist Henry Barajas as Operations Coordinator.

CBR News spoke with Hawkins about the overall slate of announcements, and specifically about his role as writer of "Swing."

Matt, Why is now the right time for an "Aphrodite V" series? What can you share at this point about where Bryan Hill is taking the character?

Matt Hawkins: Bryan Hill has been working on the LINE WEBTOON original series "Cyber Force: Artifacts" (a weekly online free comic) that was intended as a bridge between what Marc Silvestri did with "Cyber Force: Rebirth" and what I did with Stjepan Šejić on "Aphrodite IX." I've really liked what he's doing, and they are getting a sizable reading audience. Top that with "Aphrodite IX" being the best selling "Top Cow universe" book we've done over the past few years, and it seemed a no brainer. Aphrodite V was featured in "Cyber Force: Rebirth" and appears in the Line Webtoons comic as well. This new series will be illustrated by Jeff Spokes who is an insanely talented and underrated artist.

This will be an origin story of sorts, and should come out late this year, possibly early next. Since this takes place roughly in present day it's an interesting look at technological fusion with humans. Wearables are a big thing now and there are already people with cybernetic eyes and parts. Bryan and I are fascinated by transhumanism and the eventual merging of technology and biology, so this is an exploration of that and the potential pitfalls of it.

"Mechanism" was originally announced last year as a Heavy Metal project. What brought it to Top Cow?

I've been working with Raffaele Ienco on "Symmetry" and he asked me if we'd put it out. It's a fantastic sci-fi series that fits in well with what he and I are doing on "Symmetry."

You described "Swing" as a companion series to "Sunstone." How do the two books work alongside each other? And is this project you were posting about on Facebook earlier this week that involved lingerie research?

Yes! I do a lot of research on projects. Normally it's science stuff, but Linda Šejić and I put together a pitch for "Swing" and started sending it around internally. "Sunstone," "Blood Stain" and "Swing" are all connected via an online game they play together. The characters don't know each other in real life, but they know each other virtually. It's not pivotal to any of the stories, but it's fun. "Sunstone" was such a runaway hit as a sexy, slice-of-life story that we started trying to come up with organic spinoffs or similar books that the same audience would read.

"Swing" is about a married couple who've hit the mid-life, two kids, ten-year marriage point. They've been having marital problems and are trying to regain that magical spark they had at the beginning of their relationship. They embark on a few things and eventually experiment with voyeurism and exhibitionism which leads them to try out swapping with another couple. It's a humorous, emotional look at a relationship where the couple loves each other deeply, want to stay together... but need something more.

At conventions I get a lot of people who read "Sunstone" or "Think Tank" and that's all they read. So we're trying to develop books that are similar, to appeal to the existing readers of both.

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