Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Publisher Filip Sablik talks upcoming Top Cow trade paperbacks

Top Cow’s Filip Sablik has been making the rounds on the internet of late, letting everyone know about The Cow’s plans for its monthly titles and special projects in 2009. You can read all about it here. However, I was curious about their trade paperback plans for the coming year as well. There are a lot of fanboys who strictly read the trades, after all. So I thought “Hey, I have a blog. I’ll email Top Cow and see what they have to say.” Imagine my surprise and shock when not only did I get an answer, but I also got an email interview with their publisher, Filip Sablik. What follows are the questions I asked and Mr. Sablik’s answers, which are in blue.

Are there going to be any more Witchblade: Origins trades and are you looking into doing something similar for The Darkness?

Yes and yes! We will be releasing two more volumes of Witchblade: Origins, which will cover the first 25 issues of Witchblade. This is essentially the original Michael Turner run on Witchblade and covers Sara’s formative adventures.

We are also looking at rebranding the earlier trades of The Darkness as The Darkness: Origins to match up uniformly with the Witchblade line. You’ll probably see something along those lines later in 2009. READ MORE.

Brikhed’s Blog picks URBAN MYTHS as Favorite One-Shot of 2008

Favorite Mini-Series/One-Shot 2008:
(1) Pilot Season: Urban Myths (Top Cow/Image) - For the past two years Top Cow has had an initiative called Pilot Season in which six books are released as one-shot books. The books are then voted on by the fans and the top two vote getters win a mini-series. This year Jay Faerber created a current day world based on mythology and interesting characters called Urban Myths. READ MORE.

Newsarama reacts to "Let Us Win YOU Over" promotion

"Top Cow is an amazing company! They are truly reaching out to fans and listening. As I cut back on my Marvel and DC severely (after 30 years of reading the big two, it just ends up being the same story over and over...), I have really been impressed and one over by The Darkness, Witchblade, and mostly Top Cow's willingness to be as approachable as possible.

Cheap trades, $2.99 guarantee, compendiums, a user friendly website, and their street team appearances have won me over...and now free comics? psshhh...I'm sold!"


Geek Round Table reacts to "Let Us Win YOU Over" promotion

Top Cow comic is doing a great thing for 2009 and I thought i would share the info with you guys... get out there and talk to your local retailer and get them involved in this incredible program

Pop Culture Zoo reacts to "Let Us Win YOU Over" Announcement

Hot on the heels of their vow to keep their regular comics at $2.99 for all of 2009, Top Cow Productions announced today their intention to lure you to their comics by giving them to you for free. I’m already deciding which titles on my pull list I’m going to be dropping in favor of adding some Top Cow titles (hint: can you spot the ones that are going up from $2.99 to $3.99 on the various March solicitations?) and this might get me to change even more. Free comics aren’t just for Free Comic Book Day anymore.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Top Cow Announces 'Let Us Win YOU Over' Initiative




Innovative, new program will give away free Top Cow comics through participating retailers across the United States and Canada

LOS ANGELES, Calif., December 29, 2008 – Top Cow Productions, Inc. announced today it will launch the Let Us Win YOU Over initiative in February 2009 that will see the publisher distribute thousands of free comics a month to new readers through participating retailers across the United States and Canada.

Over the course of the yearlong promotion, Top Cow will send 200 free comics each to 25 comic book stores per month (a total of 5,000 free comics per month). Each month, a different set of stores, each month a different free comic. The stores will be spread out geographically and demographically.

Combined with the books it plans to give away during Free Comic Book Day on May 2, 2009 and the many books Top Cow gives away at various conventions across the country, the publisher stands to give away up to 200,000 free comics during the year.

Top Cow’s goal with the Let Us Win YOU Over initiative is threefold: to invite new readers to give Top Cow comics a try and win them over to their line of titles; to generate buzz and excitement for fans and the retailers they support; and to pump some much-needed energy into an industry not immune to the current economic crisis.

“We feel strongly that Top Cow titles are the best they’ve ever been and it’s important for to invite readers and retailers to discover why,” explained Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik. “While our competitors are straining the wallet of the average fan, Top Cow is making it easy to try new comics.”

So as to not slight existing readers who are already buying Top Cow titles, the publisher will also ship each participating store exclusive Customer Appreciation covers for each subscriber of that month’s free comic. It will be limited exclusively to the subscriber fans at the participating stores for that month.

Top Cow initially opened the Let Us Win YOU Over program to members of the comics retailer group, ComicsPRO, because of the organization’s commitment to banding together to ensure a strong and healthy retailer community.

“ComicsPRO retailers are eager to support this innovative promotion, with the hope of proving that new ideas can lead to new readers for quality titles,” said ComicsPRO President Joe Field. “Our mutual goals with this program are to expose thousands of new eyes to Top Cow's singular brand of comics and to lead more readers to enjoying Top Cow comics and buying them from ComicsPRO member stores.”

“Our stores always looks for great ways to promote comics and connect readers to new stories they might not have given a second thought to before in the past,” said Michael Malve, owner of Arizona-based chain Atomic Comics and a member of ComicsPRO. “So when we heard of this very progressive marketing idea that Top Cow was coming up with, well, let’s just say we were one of the first to dive in.”

“We at Atomic Comics have worked hand in hand with many publishers over our 22 years in the business,” Malve added. “And in that time, Top Cow has been one of the easiest to work with. They have always made themselves available to retailers and listened to our concerns, as most recently noted in their $2.99 in 2009 announcement. I really look forward to this promotion and I hope other retailers embrace and take full advantage of a great opportunity that Top Cow is offering us with their Let us Win YOU Over campaign.”

Retailers who are not members of ComicsPRO and are interested in participating will be able to sign up through their Diamond Comics Distributors customer service representative in the next several weeks.

Filip Sablik's new entry at Blog@Newsarama

Blog@Newsarama has posted the latest blog entry by Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik, in which he asks, "What have you done for comics lately?" He also talks about what he liked in 2008 and what he's looking forward to in 2009, including the CYBERFORCE/HUNTER-KILLER miniseries by Mark Waid and Kenneth Rocafort. (That's one of Rocafort's character designs below.) Click here to read Filip's latest blog entry.

Blogger Sunny Jhanna raves about WITCHBLADE

In her review of WITCHBLADE #122, blogger Sunny Jhanna writes: "Witchblade might just be one of the best comics on the shelves right now. Ron Marz crafts both interesting stories and formidable dialogue, those two elements coming from amazingly vivid and compelling characters; and Stjepan Sejic is as gifted an artist as they come. Witchblade is a book showcasing mystery, the supernatural, love relationships, and overall, humanity and what happens to people when both natural and supernatural evil strike. So go to the store and buy this series, which you can also get in trade (there’s five out already, I think—isn’t that convenient?). You will not regret it." Click here for the full write-up.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

REFLECTIONS: Creators' Faves of 2008

Every year for the past seven years, REFLECTIONS has set aside one week in late December to treat readers to an early holiday present, and this year is no exception. What is the present, you ask? Well, instead of spotlighting just one of your favorite creators, we have over a dozen, all answering the same question:

“What was your favorite comic book of 2008?”

See what Filip Sablik, Phil Hester, and Ron Marz recommend along with other top creators...


Fanboy Review covers new Witchblade and The Darkness Compendium release

According to the Top Cow Blog, both the Witchblade Vol. 1 and Darkness Vol. 1 Compendium are going to be back in print by the time you read this. Both are going to have a new look that will be in line with the rebranding that Top Cow has been doing to it’s entire trade paperback line. In addition, hardcover editions will be available along with the standard paperbacks.

"The Darkness" heads for issue #75 in February

Top Cow Productions, Inc. proudly announced today that The Darkness will reach Legacy Issue #75 in February 2009, and the publisher will commemorate the milestone event by inviting a list of all-star artists to contribute to the oversized, special issue.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Filip Sablik and Mel Caylo appear on the Comic Geek Speak podcast to talk Top Cow in 2009

Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik and VP - Sales & Marketing Mel Caylo join the Speakers of Geek to talk about all the announcements for 2009 for the House that Silvestri built. READ MORE.

Jorge Lucas Talks "The Darkness"

It’s an exciting time to be a fan of Top Cow’s “The Darkness.” Last year, Phil Hester and Michael Broussard took Darkness wielder Jackie Estacado in a bold new direction when they launched the book’s third volume. If you add up all of the issues from all three “The Darkness” series, issue 11 of the current volume is “The Darkness” #75, and Top Cow is celebrating that milestone with an over-sized anniversary issue in February.

On sale this week is “The Darkness” #9, featuring artwork by Jorge Lucas, who will alternate story arcs with Michael Broussard as the series goes forward. CBR News sat down with Lucas to shed some light on The Darkness.

At the end of the first arc, Jackie Estacado found himself de-powered, unable to take full advantage of the Darkness power within him. “It’s a good turnaround for the character,” Lucas told CBR. “In these stories, Jackie is a weakened man, with weak powers, and a lot of the situations he gets into are very trying, especially for someone who’s sick.” READ MORE.

Extra Sequential interviews William Harm about IMPALER

In the 1400s a hungry army of vampires stake a claim on Eastern Europe, and only one man can save the terrified citizens. His name is Vlad Tempes, otherwise known as Vlad the Impaler. He is a man literally empowered by the church to fight these beasts, and does. Fast forward to modern New York. Widower detective Victor Dailey discovers corpses in an abandoned ship, and soon the vampire horde is back. However, so is Vlad, and he’s ready to end the fight for good. This time though, he has help, with the US military and Dailey doing whatever they can to stop the snow covered city from becoming a vampire covered one too.
Impaler was originally a three issue series published by Image Comics in 2006 and 2007 but went on hiatus. Top Cow picked up the reins in October and published a Trade Paper Back of those first three issues, plus three new ones. Now, Impaler receives its own ongoing series, written by series creator William Harms with gorgeously gory art from Brit Matt Timson. These are not today’s goth-wannabe vamps. Impaler’s blood suckers are horrific monsters, not introspective shadow dwellers, and as you can see on the following pages Impaler is an unashamed horror title. READ MORE.

Girls Entertainment Network reviews THE DARKNESS: LODBROK’S HAND

Summary: The unique stylings of superstar artist Michael Avon Oeming (POWERS, MICE TEMPLAR) are a perfect match for a Darkness and Vikings tale by current series writer Phil Hester!

In a barbaric age lost to history, mad kings sacrifice their subjects to strange gods, dragons fill the sky, witches weave their spells, warriors wade through bloodstained snow, and still The Darkness reigns. LODBROK’S HAND is Viking mayhem on an epic scale with an intense twist only The Darkness can provide!

Features a jaw-dropping variant cover by Massimo Carnevale (NORTHLANDERS, Y: THE LAST MAN)!

Review: What do you get when smooth, painted visuals and fine, old-fashioned storytelling come together? Well, in this case, you get The Darkness: Lodbrok’s Hand. READ MORE.

Jazma Online interviews Paul Dini for JINGLE BELLE: SANTA CLAUS VS. FRANKENSTEIN

Allen: I want to start by saying Thank you Paul for doing interview with me.

Paul Dini: No problem!

Allen: Tell me all about Jingle Belle: Santa Claus Vs. Frankenstein. Also. How does Frankenstein get to North Pole? Is idea based on something Mary Shelly wrote?

Paul Dini: According to Mary Shelley's original novel, he never left. After the creature finds Victor Frankenstein dead aboard the ship that rescued him, the monster mourns his creator then resolves to take his own life. He vanishes into the wastes near the North Pole, and we pick him up some 200+ years later in more or less the same locale.

Allen: Tell me about artist.

Paul Dini: No one does classic animation-inspired comics quite like Stephanie Gladden. This story has girls, monsters, wacky animals, wacky people, and different types of elves from all over the world. I don't know of anyone who could have handled a huge cast like that better than Steph.

Allen: Please give history of character Jingle Belle and world lives in.

Paul Dini: Jing is Santa Claus' daughter. You'd think she'd be right in step with all the Christmas stuff, but she's much more into being a teen-age girl. She likes her friends, she likes snowboarding; sitting in a mall and listening to little kids' toy demands, not so much. She'd rather be on a date. READ MORE.

MTV Splashpage lists JINGLE BELLE: SANTA CLAUS VS. FRANKENSTEIN as one of the season’s best holiday-themed issues

Jingle Belle: Santa Claus Vs. Frankenstein (Top Cow Productions): Inspired by Mary Shelley’s original novel (sort of), the story of Frankenstein’s monster takes a new twist when he is found by Jingle in the Arctic wastes and “rehabilitated” to fit in with the elves at Santa’s Workshop. READ MORE.

Paul Dini appears on Comics on Comics.

Comics on Comics roars back to the world famous Batcave in Dream World Comics for our blockbuster eleventh episode! Host Juan-Manuel Rocha teams up with comic book superstar Paul Dini (Detective Comics, Batman: The Animated Series, Madame Mirage), magician Misty Lee (Second City), Dean Haglund (X-Files, Lone Gunmen) and Ian Bagg (Comedy Central Presents, History of the Joke) for an unforgettable night of comics and comedy! READ MORE.

Monday, December 22, 2008

New Downloads

Every week we add new downloads, So be sure to check them out!.
This weeks new downloads only at topcow.com.

- 1 NEW Darkness Wallpaper
- 6 NEW avatars from Darkness and Witchblade

Newsarama reviews Impaler #1

Impaler #1
Written by William Harms
Art by Matt Timson
Published by Top Cow

Fans of the terrifying story that began in the Impaler Vol. 1 trade paperback will have something bite into as it continues as a new ongoing series.

Millions of vampires have descended upon America. In a desperate bid to defeat them, the U.S. military nuked New York City but, unfortunately, it was too little, too late. The vampire horde had already advanced westward, but how far? A team of soldiers sent to rescue the Secretary of State's plane that crash-landed in New Jersey find out the hard way. Humanity's only chance may rest in the hands of vampire hunter Vlad the Impaler and his new companion, Homicide Detective Victor Dailey, who wishes he was dead.

The concept from start to finish is just plain old-fashioned cool. If it's one company that "gets" the super-natural market, it is Top Cow. From Witchblade, to Darkness, to even Dragon Prince, Top Cow scratches that itch when I'm bored with spandex and crises. The paneling structure that Timson puts down plays out like a movie. His figure construction is solid the art is gritty and bloody, just how a vampire book should be. The way Timson draws the creatures is purely horrific, almost as if they're straight out of a nightmare.

PREVIEW: The Darkness #9

Top Cow has provided Newsarama with a preview of next week's The Darkness #9 (#73) by Phil Hester and Jorge Lucas. In it - Jackie goes to Hell. Seriously. The solicitation for the issue reads: Jackie Estacado is in Hell...literally! Jackie’s soul has been condemned to eternal damnation and his assigned tormentor happens to be an ages-old enemy who bears a centuries-long grudge against The Darkness. But this enemy has a proposition for Jackie, a bargain that may prove more terrible than Hell itself. Meet The Sovereign. Cover A – Jorge Lucas Cover B – Dale Keown Full Color 32 pages $2.99 Ongoing Series. Top Cow's Darkness is recommended for MATURE READERS READ MORE.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Top Cow Announces Cyberforce/ Hunter-Killer

Top Cow Productions, Inc. announced today that fans who have been clamoring for the return of the Hunter-Killer series and anticipating more Cyberforce will finally get their wish when the publisher launches Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer, a monster crossover limited series set to debut in July.

Eisner-nominated writer Mark Waid (The Amazing Spider-Man, Kingdom Come), who co-created Hunter-Killer with Top Cow founder and CEO Marc Silvestri in 2005, will pen the story. Providing art will be rising superstar Kenneth Rocafort (Madame Mirage, Astonishing Tales), who drew the final four issues of Season 1 of Hunter-Killer.

“I can’t wait to work with Kenneth again,” raved Waid. “He blew my mind when I first saw his Hunter-Killer pages during the first run. To be brutally honest, it’s rare that I see a new artist whose work doesn’t feel redundant or a clone of something else already out there. Kenneth’s energy knocks me out.” READ MORE.

Comic Pants reviews IMPALER #1

Writer: William Harms
Artist: Matt Timson
Company: Image / Top Cow

Completely disregard the whole Top Cow branding with this one…As there is no cheesecake or vuluptuous women stalking the panels of this comic. In fact, Impaler (a new ongoing to a previous mini) provides a heaping portion of dread, action and nail biting suspense. READ MORE.

New Witchblade Wallpaper

With the War of the Witchblade Coming in Witchblade #125 we thought we would set the pace with this cool wallpaper only on WWW.TOPCOW.COM.

Top Cow Solicitations for March 2009

-Witchblade #125 Ron Marz/Stjepan Sejic/Chris Bachalo $2.99

-Black Vault #1 B. Clay Moore/Nelson Blake II/Jeremy Haun

-The Darkness #76 Phil Hester/Michael Broussard/
Frazer Irving, Josh Medors $2.99

-The Darkness #3 2008 NYCC Variant Cover Edition Signed
Hester/Broussard/Keown $14.99

-The Darkness #71-74 Cover Set Hester/Lucas/Sejic/Timson/Irving $16.99

-Impaler #3 William Harms/Matt Timson $2.99

-Impaler #1 Cover Var Signed William Harms/Matt Timson/Sheldon Mitchell $10.99

-Rising Stars Compendium SC J. Michael Straczynski/Fiona Avery/
Brent Anderson/Keu Cha/David Finch/
Karl Moline $59.99

-Blood Legacy 3 Novel Kerri Hawkins $6.99

-Freshmen: Summer Vacation Special Paradise Comics Variant
Hugh Sterbakov/Sheldon Mitchell $10.00

Monday, December 15, 2008

Filip Sablik announces LET US WIN YOU OVER initiative to give away tens of thousands of free comics in 2009

One thing can be said with total certainty – Top Cow has been making a lot of noise lately.

As we come to the end of 2008, Top Cow has told CBR News about their publishing plans for the new year, which include a commitment to keeping all prices static with no increases for at least twelve months. In addition, Top Cow will work aggressively with at least 300 select retailers in 2009 to give away over 60,000 comic books to new readers. The move is part of an initiative called Let Us Win You Over.

Exactly what is this initiative? What comics will be given away for free? Which retailers will be participating? What is the expected end result? CBR News caught up with Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik for the answers to those questions and more. READ MORE.

Filip Sablik’s blog @ Newsarama launches with an explanation on what went into the decision to stay $2.99 in 2009

Howdy, gang. I’m Filip Sablik and I get to live this fanboy’s dream of waking up every morning as the Publisher of Top Cow Productions. Troy Brownfield was kind enough to invite me ramble on occasionally as part of the new Blog @ Newsarama. I was originally planning on starting off with the obligatory introductory post letting you know who I am, but we’ve been getting some attention in the last week online because of an announcement we made recently. And since only my mom and my wife are really interested in hearing me talk about myself, I’ve decided to talk about Top Cow’s pledge to maintain a cover price of $2.99 in 2009.

If this is the first you’ve heard about this topic you can check out Matt Brady’s interview with yours truly HERE. I’ll wait.

Oh, you’re a faithful Newsarama reader and you’re already familiar with the topic? Great. Then let’s get into it.

For the most part the reaction’s been really positive. Fans and retailers seem to appreciate that a publisher is at least addressing the growing concern over rising prices on just about everything. But as it is on the Internet, where would we be without some cynical responses and pointed questions? READ MORE.

The Christian Manifesto reviews THE DARKNESS #8

I’m not going to attempt to lie here. The first several pages of “Crooked” confused me so much that I had to read them twice. On the second go-round I realized how simple it was and how much of an idiot I must have been to have missed what was going on. As it goes, in Darkness #8 Phil Hester and Jorge Garcia continue the work they began together in issue #7. But, where issue #7 was apparently a standalone story, issue #8 begins a whole new story arc for our conflicted protagonist Jackie Estacado.

As the story opens we find Jackie in disguise, meeting with a man by the name of Dick Garber. I was a little disoriented by the text boxes, attempting to figure out who is “talking.” Then it became clear that someone is watching Jackie’s every move.

Soon, we find Jackie meeting up with some thugs for a weapons deal. Apparently, he’s gone back to his old ways of underhanded crime. Making things even more interesting, Jackie double crosses the people for no good reason before being lit up like the 4th of July. Here is where we see a glimpse of Jackie’s Darkness powers still being active.

A fight ensues between Jackie and Aphrodite IV, an android assassin who has been tailing him throughout the issue for unknown reasons. He gives her a run for her money, but she pretty much wipes the floor with poor Jackie. It’s kind of pathetic really. READ MORE.

The Christian Manifesto reviews WITCHBLADE #122

Ron Marz and Stjepan Sejic are the best two things to ever happen to the Witchblade series. Marz’s taut writing that draws in the reader coupled with Sejic’s absolutely beautiful digital art is the perfect match.

Working to solve the mysterious murder of a local rabbi while being tailed by a bothersome reporter, Pezzini isn’t so sure that everything is as it seems. First, the brutal nature of the murder just doesn’t seem to make sense. To make matters worse, she finds some Jewish youth crafting a Golem out of mud in hopes of protecting themselves from the violence, which they blame on the local black population.*

The scene shifts to Dani consoling one of the girls from her dance studio, which leads to one of the most unexpected instances I’ve encountered in a while in the series. While it wasn’t necessarily agreeable to me, it was humanizing and served to remind me that while this is fiction, what takes place is couched in reality, where things are broken and messy and confusing.

Things shift back to Pezzini and her partners piecing togther the evidence surrounding the rabbi’s murder. Unfortunately, the body count is only going to start rising, as one of the Jewish youth are found dead—murdered in the same fashion as the rabbi. It all leads up to the book’s closing pages where the reader is introduced to a new and terrifying creature. READ MORE.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Witchblade #122 Review

Witchblade #122
Writer – Ron Marz
Artist – Stjepan Sejic
Publisher - Top Cow/ Image Comics
The Grade – 4 out of 5

Since I have just about had my fill of Marvel and DC of late, I decided to see what else is out there in comic books. It turns out there’s a lot. After all the good things I have read lately about Top Cow, I decided to give their flagship title Witchblade another look.

Now, it has been a long time since I picked up an issue of Witchblade. I think the last issue I bought was #19 or 20, sometime around the Family Ties crossover with The Darkness. Needless to say I figured I would be completely lost. Happily, this was not the case. The issue had a great “previously…” page that filled me in on what was going on and off I went. This was part 2 of 3 that finds Sara Pezzini looking for a killer in a New York neighborhood and is a great introduction to the cast and premise. Marz does a great job of filling you in and giving you a general taste of the Witchblade world. This is not to say you won’t have problems later when the main story gets going again, but this serves as an outstanding first taste of the series.

The Darkness Lodbrok’s Hand review

By Phil Hester (Writer), Michael Avon Oeming (Artist), and Val Staples (Colorist)

The Story: A one-and-done comic set sometime long ago in The Darkness universe, Lodbrok’s Hand is a cautionary story about a man’s (good-intentioned) strive for power and the cost that it carries. Lodbrok, his sister, and some others are the few that remain of a village following a brutal raid lead by the tyrant Grimur. The group goes off in search of the legendary Forbidden Horn in the hopes of summoning The Black Captain and his twisted crew in order to even the odds against the might of Grimur. As with similar stories, there is a price to be paid for the powers called forth by the Forbidden Horn, regardless of the success or failure they bring.

What’s Good: I consider this one-shot to be such a success because the creative team manages to make a very familiar story feel like something fresh and almost brand new. First off, Phil Hester’s script effectively captures the feeling of a tale being spoken aloud by a master storyteller; something that is crucial to the book considering how the story told in Lodbrok’s Hand is framed. Secondly, the artwork by Michael Avon Oeming (colored by Val Staples) does a great job of capturing the dark, foreboding nature of Lodbrok’s quest. From the blood-drenched action scenes to the bizarre, supernatural nature of The Black Captain and his ship, Lodbrok’s Hand is a visual treat. READ MORE.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

comixtreme.com Reviews The Darkness Lodbrok's Hand

By Phil Hester and Michael Avon Oeming

I really like these Darkness one-shots, because the mythology of the character really lends itself to them. A timeless entity bound from host to host as eternity drags on -- there's a lot to mine there, and the horror genre is a perfect vehicle for it. If I were a little more vain, I might liken it to a modern, working version of Tales of the Black Freighter, but I'm probably just striking chords with the seafarer theme of this particular one-shot. The story here relates the story of the Viking Lodbrok, who in his youth sought a boon of that era's bearer of the Darkness, and paid many prices for it - one being his hand. READ MORE.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Inked reviews LODBROK’S HAND

Whenever you have Michael Avon Oeming involved in a tale about Vikings you’re sure to have a quality title on your hands. Teaming up with writer Phil Hester for this one-shot, The Darkness: Lodbrok’s Hand transports us to the Northlands as we’re treated to a tale of one Vikings struggle with the Darkness as they battle fellow Northlanders.

The story opens with Lodbrok, a Viking longship captain, searching for something lost to him long ago. The story is narrated by one of the ships superiors who tells of how Lodbrok lost his hand. We’re transported back to a youthful Lodbrok who’s leading a rag tag band of fighters against a powerful warlord. Lodbrok is searching for The Black Captain, the Darkness wielder of that time, who can help him defeat the armies of the mad king. The Darkness agrees to help Lodbrok defeat his foes, but it exacts a price. The Black Captain will take the bravest warrior to be his shipmate and fellow warrior.


Newsarama interviews Filip Sablik for 2009 Preview

We brought you first word of Top Cow holding their prices at $2.99 through 2009, and now, it’s time for a look ahead at 2009. For that, we sat down again with Publisher Filip Sablik.

Newsarama: Filip, you’ve recently announced big plans for both Witchblade and Darkness. In terms of core titles, what are you looking at for the coming year? A steady run with the two titles, or another year with a summer event?

Filip Sablick: For those two titles we’re going to go with the former. 2009 is going to be a time to refocus, in terms of letting the creators do what they do best with the books, and giving them a break from having to worry about a larger event that they have to build towards. Ron’s doing “War of the Witchblade” starting with issue #125, but that’s a story that’s been developing organically since issue #100 or #101, and it’s something that he’s been wanting to do.

In Darkness, a lot of Phil [Hester]’s upcoming stories, while they’ll be following continuing thread, will be self-contained story arcs, either one or two issue stories. Issues #7-#10, and up to the new issue #75 are all self-contained issues where people can pick up an issue and get a complete sense of the Darkness and who Jackie is, and hopefully that will be enough to pique their interest, and they jump back in. READ MORE.

Wizard Universe reviews WITCHBLADE #122


Top Cow Productions

Ron Marz (W)/Stjepan Sejic (A)
"Sara Pezzini finds herself at the center of another head-scratching supernatural mystery, this one involving the murder of an Orthodox Jewish rabbi with all the clues pointing to...a horse-riding killer? That leads Sara to stumble across some young Jewish boys trying to build a golem to protect their neighborhood, which doesn't pan out too well when one of them ends up the next victim�an act that gets Pezzini in hot water. Elsewhere, Danielle's dealing with a troubled young girl in her dance class in an encounter that turns shockingly intimate, but that's not the biggest surprise.


Comic Book Jesus reviews LODBROK’S HAND

This is a good stand-alone issue, to be sure. It’s a simple one-shot, but it won’t reveal anything about The Darkness. It’s a very loose tie-in. Apart from one of the main characters being a medieval Darkness bearer, it could be just a generic sword and sorcery adventure. Written by Phil Hester with art by Michael Avon Oeming, Lodbrok’s Hand recounts the sad tale of Lodbrok, the captain of a Viking ship, who as a youth lost his hand. The crazy King Grimur was moving from village to village forcibly enlisting strong men in his army. When young Lodbrok’s family was taken, he, his magic-wielding sister Freydis and a few other youngens set on a harsh journey of revenge. They realise they’re outnumbered and outgunned, or rather, out sworded, so Lodbrok bravely, or foolishly, calls upon the creature known as the Black Captain. READ MORE.

Weekly Comic Book Review reviews WITCHBLADE #122

Some Thoughts Before The Review: There is no question about it, Witchblade #122 is a bit overdue. It is understandable though, especially considering the work Ron Marz and Stjepan Sejic did for the Broken Trinity event. The current Witchblade arc, if I recall correctly, got off to a promising start with a grisly murder, a nagging reporter named Gretch, and the appearance of a magic golem. I look forward to seeing what happens next now that the Witchblade ongoing series is back on track.

The Story: Sara Pezzini, with Gretch in tow, continues her investigation into the mysterious murder that took place within a Jewish community. As forensics turns up new surprising evidence that puts an unexpected twist on an already strange case. Sara begins to feel that the Witchblade might come in handy. Meanwhile, Dani Baptiste takes time to meet with a beautiful, troubled student looking for some help as she experiences a surprise of her own. READ MORE.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

CBR Preview Imapaler #1

The terrifying story that began in the IMPALER VOL. 1 trade paperback continues with a new ongoing series from Top Cow!

Millions of vampires have descended upon America. In a desperate bid to defeat them, the U.S. military nuked New York City but unfortunately, it was too little, too late. The vampire horde had already advanced westward, but how far? A team of soldiers sent to rescue a politician’s plane that crash-landed in New Jersey find out the hard way. Humanity’s only chance may rest in the hands of vampire hunter Vlad the Impaler and his new companion, a depressed New York City detective who wishes he was dead.

Don’t miss the next thrilling chapter of the International Horror Guild-nominated story!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Top Cow Productions, Inc. announced today that due to popular demand, redesigned and rebranded hardcover copies of the Witchblade Compendium Vol. 1 and The Darkness Compendium Vol. 1 are scheduled to be in comic shops on Dec. 17. Softcover editions will be available Dec. 24.
The Witchblade Compendium Vol. 1 collects Witchblade issues #1-50 and a complete cover gallery. The Darkness Compendium Vol. 1 collects The Darkness vol. 1 Preview and issues #½-40, Tales of The Darkness issues #½-4, Witchblade/The Darkness issue #½, The Darkness vol. 2 issue #1, The Darkness: Wanted Dead one-shot and a complete cover gallery. Both books are an impressive 1,280 pages, and both hardcover editions feature bonus posters on the reverse side of the slipcovers.
The books were first printed in 2006 and immediately sold out. Demand for more copies was high, which prompted Top Cow to reprint the books after a complete rebranding of the company’s entire trade paperback line was complete.
“It’s taken us a bit longer to get the Compendium’s back into print, but the redesigned look was well worth the wait,” said Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik. “Plus, the price cannot be beat. Fifty comics for 60 bucks! Just another way Top Cow is giving you more than the competition.”
Copies of the compendiums can be ordered through local comic shops using the following Diamond item numbers:
Witchblade Compendium Vol. 1 Hardcover ($99.99) - AUG072054
Witchblade Compendium Vol. 1 Softcover ($59.99) - MAY061795
The Darkness Compendium Vol. 1 Hardcover ($99.99)- SEP072027
The Darkness Compendium Vol. 1 Softcover ($59.99) - JUL061747

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

iFanboy covers $2.99 in 2009

It turns out that iFanboy may have had some influence over at Top Cow Productions. Publisher Filip Sablik made the rounds yesterday in response to Top Cow's press release guaranteeing a $2.99 cover price on all regularly sized issues in 2009. Sabik says, “We looked around and saw cover prices creeping up and up all around us. It seems wrong to raise your prices on customers during these tough economic times.” In the comments of this Newsarama story, Sablik references Conor's recent article on the price increases.

Publicity stunt or not, I imagine Top Cow readers are happy to see that their books won't be costing them more money in the immediate future. It's certainly a far cry from what Marvel readers are experiencing and hearing. It seems that Marvel's plan to keep the event books and popular titles (like Dark Avengers and New Avengers) at $3.99, in order to guarantee that other titles stay at $2.99. Still, that sounds dubious to me, and as Conor pointed out to me earlier this week, 11 of the 19 books Marvel will release this Wednesday will be priced at $3.99.

Every week we add new downloads, So be sure to check them out!.
This weeks new downloads only at topcow.com.

- 2 NEW wallpapers 1x Broken Trinity & 1x Darkness Lodbrok's Hand
- 1 NEW Darkness banner
- 2 NEW avatars from Darkness and Broken Trinity

Phil Hester talks to CBR about THE DARKNESS: LODBROK’S HAND

Phil Hester, the writer who last year re-launched Top Cow’s “The Darkness” to much critical and commercial success, has teamed with superstar Michael Avon Oeming on a new Darkness one-shot called “Lodbrok’s Hand.” An artist himself, Hester tailors his scripts to the strengths of the illustrator he’s working with, and with that in mind, “Lodbrok’s Hand” does not follow the present Darkness wielder, Jackie Estacado, but rather one from a pseudo-historical Viking era. CBR News caught up with Hester to talk about the project.

“The Darkness: Lodbrok’s Hand” tells the story of a sea captain who makes a deal with the Darkness bearer of the time to help him seek out freedom for his enslaved village. The Darkness wielder does in fact free Lodbrok’s village, but he exacts a terrible price of Lodrbok in return. “Mike and I call this a ‘Frazetta Age’ story; it happens in a non-historical Viking setting, it’s really cooler than any real Viking tale ever could be. But it’s an out-and-out fantasy Viking story, with a ton of action and a ton of magic that Mike really just gets to cut loose on, and some actual moments of real horror and real pathos that I think we managed to squeeze out of it. I’m super proud of it, and I think he hit a home run with it.”

Hester and longtime “Witchblade” writer Ron Marz ran into Oeming at last year’s New York Comic-Con, and both were surprised to learn that the much sought after writer/artist of “The Mice Templar” and “Powers” had an opening in his schedule. “With someone as productive as Mike, you sort of assume that their dance card is full,” Hester told CBR. “Between ‘Mice Templar,’ ‘Powers,’ all of the various other writing gigs he has, you never think, ‘Well, what’s Mike Oeming doing, can I get Mike Oeming?’ because you don’t assume he’s on the market. So it was a real pleasant surprise to hear him looking for some gigs in New York.” READ MORE.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Pop Culture Zoo talks to Filip Sablik further about $2.99 in 2009

Earlier this week Top Cow Productions issued a press release stating their commitment to keep the cover prices on their regular sized comic books at $2.99 through the entirety of 2009. This prompted a lot of questions in our minds. Fortunately Top Cow publisher Filip Sablik was willing to answer them.

PCZ: Why was it important to you to stay at $2.99 and make that commitment for a whole year?

FS: Rising prices are a concern we kept hearing from retailers and fans alike. At Top Cow, we’re looking to grow our fanbase and business with our direct market partners, so raising prices in an economic recession seems like the counterintuitive way to do that. And a year seemed like a good way to let everyone know we were serious about this commitment.

PCZ: Why not fall in line with everyone else or do a smaller increase to, say, $3.50?

FS: An increase is an increase. And honestly a press release reading “Top Cow Doesn’t Turn the Screws as Bad as the Other Guys” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. READ MORE.

Phil Hester on Darkness: Lodbrok's Hand

Last week, we brought you your first look at Darkness: Lodbrok’s Hand, a stand alone Darkness special coming from Top Cow by regular Darkness writer Phil Hester and drawn by Mike Oeming. Set in an age “lost to history,” the story tells of Vikings and magic – and the Darkness that comes to do your bidding, but exacts a terrible price.

We spoke with Hester about the one shot and where he sees it in relation to the rest of the Darkness story he’s telling.

Newsarama: First off Phil – what got Lodbrok’s Hand rolling? You’re writing Darkness, of course, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen a special set in the past...

Phil Hester: It actually came from a chance meeting at last year's NY Comic Con. I ran into Mike who let me know he had a little window of availability in his schedule. Top Cow okayed us for a one-shot the very same day, so I asked Mike exactly what kind of stuff he wanted to draw and I made the story fit his savage proclivities.

Splash Page covers "Wanted" video game

The crew over at Multiplayer, MTV’s mecca for all things gaming, have posted a pair of articles about the upcoming “Wanted: Weapons of Fate” video game based on this summer’s big-screen adaptation of the 2003-04 Top Cow graphic novel by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones. The third-person shooter game is scheduled for release early next year, and from what our Multiplayer colleagues have seen of it thus far (and the various trailers we’ve seen around the ‘Net) , it looks to be one of those rare movie-based games that ends up being, well… pretty darn good.

While chatting up Ulf Andersson, director of the “Wanted” game and co-founder of game developer GRIN, Multiplayer received a frank response regarding the movie-game pitching process and how it works — at least as far as the “Wanted” game was concerned, that is.

“They [Universal Studios] pitched us the game,” said Andersson. “It’s not like we came [and said] ‘oh, can we do ‘Wanted’ for you?’ They come to us, they present the script before the movie is made. Basically, you sit around with them, you read it and you go…this, this and that could make good gameplay elements. And then you have to ask yourself ‘Does it have a good story? Does it have anything unique about it?’” READ MORE.

Comics Teacher covers $2.99 price

This could serve as a model for study by Business or Economics students. By staying at $2.99 instead of increasing to $3.99, like most publishers, during an economic downturn are Top Cow ensurimng stability?

A quick survey through Previews or across the shelves at your
local comic shop will confirm that sinking feeling that you’ve had
about comics lately – the prices are starting to creep up. Gone are the
days of publishers like DC and Marvel lifting their entire line by a
quarter. Now, in a sea of $2.99 cover prices, titles, popular titles
are starting to cross into the $3.00 range, most often landing at
$3.99. READ MORE.

ICv2 reports on Top Cow’s $2.99 Price Freeze

Top Cow Productions has announced that it will maintain a $2.99 price point for its regular-sized comic books throughout 2009. Top Cow publisher Filip Sabik explained: “We looked around and saw cover prices creeping up and up all around us. It seems wrong to raise your prices on customers during these tough economic times.” Top Cow’s announcement comes as news appears that Marvel raising the price of some of its regular comic book series including New Avengers and Hulk to $3.99, sparking discussions on comic boards and fan sites about comic book pricing.

The standard price for 32-page comic from Marvel and DC has been $2.99 for years, but there has been plenty of talk that comics are heading for the $3.99 price point in the near future. Actually, in a very real sense, the future is now. Marvel has been leading the move to higher prices by charging $3.99 for miniseries, special editions and first issues. An analysis done by Conor Kilpatrick and published on ifanboy.com showed that during the last two weeks of October 13 out of 24 and then 9 out of 19 Marvel releases were 32-page comics priced at $3.99. READ MORE.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Witchblade #122 Preview

Sara Pezzini is drawn deeper into Brooklyn’s Ultra Orthodox Jewish enclave, where an unspeakable evil has been unleashed and is slaughtering members of the community. Neither Sara’s detective training, nor the power of the Witchblade, have prepared her for what she’s about to face. Making matters worse, the crimes have attracted the attention of a newspaper reporter who is beginning to piece together the truth about Sara and the Witchblade.


WEEK OF TOP COW: Matt Hawkins

In the first installment of CBR’s WEEK OF TOP COW, we spoke with Top Cow Productions founder Marc Silvestri about the early days of the company, and we later followed up with Filip Sablik, the prodigious Publisher of Top Cow, about the company’s current direction, experiments with online content, and what sets Top Cow apart from other outfits. We then spoke with Ron Marz and Phil Hester, the writers of “Witchblade” and “The Darkness,” respectively, about working on Top Cow’s flagship titles as well as what makes the Cow a creative oasis in the desert of corporate comics. After that, Vice President of Editorial Rob Levin sat down with us to talk about the creative direction of the Top Cow titles as well as the numerous Pilot Season projects -- one-shots featuring new or underused characters that readers can vote for via MySpace to determine which title will graduate to ongoing series.

For our fifth and final installment, Top Cow President Matt Hawkins speaks extremely candidly about the company’s business history, about the many and varied changes the Cow has undergone in the ten years he’s been there, as well as Top Cow’s endeavors in film, video games and other ancillary media. READ MORE.


In today’s edition of WEEK OF TOP COW, CBR News talks with Rob Levin, Vice President of Editorial, who joined the company four years ago while still in college and now oversees the content of the whole line, including “Madame Mirage,” ‘The Darkness,” “Witchblade,” and the numerous Pilot Season projects -- one-shots featuring new or underused characters that readers can vote for via MySpace to determine which title will graduate to ongoing series.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Wanted: Weapons of Fate Hands-on (Xbox 360)

Upon the release this week of the Blu-Ray version of last summer’s successful action flick Wanted, starring Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman, Universal took the opportunity to give the gaming media a chance to actually get their hands on the game and try out the innovative cover and bullet curving systems. The game we saw has obviously come a long way from the first look we got at E3, and playing it shows that developer GRIN is doing their darndest to give gamers a truly exciting and brutal action-based shooter.

Story-wise, Wanted: Weapons of Fate is not just a re-telling of the movie’s plot. Beginning literally a few hours after the end of the movie’s events, Weapons of Fate has you playing as unwitting protagonist Wesley across a slew of new environments, as well as ones familiar from the flick, although somewhat changed by the ravages of time.

Just walking into the room where the event was being held at a bar/gallery-space in San Francisco’s SOMA district, we were immediately struck by how the game has progressed visually. It’s a third-person view that you’re working with, with that slightly askew angle popularized by Gears of War. Obviously this is important for the game’s cover system, which is what you use to build up all that cool adrenaline that lets you do neat stuff like curve bullets in the air. READ MORE.