Top Cow Productions
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|Parent company||Image Comics (technically a sister company)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Headquarters location||Los Angeles|
|Key people||Marc Silvestri
|Fiction genres||Superhero fiction, science fiction, Horror fiction, licensed properties|
During early years of Image Comics, which was founded in 1992, co-founder, Marc Silvestri shared a studio with Jim Lee, where he created his first creator-owned comic book, Cyberforce, as part of Image's initial line-up. After setting up his own studio, Top Cow Productions, he expanded into other comics, launching Codename: Strykeforce, a new Cyberforce series and various spin-offs.
The company attracted several professionals including artist Brandon Peterson, writer Garth Ennis and former Marvel staffer David Wohl. It also helped launch the careers of various writers and artists, such as Christina Z., Joe Benitez, Michael Turner and David Finch. Benitez, Turner and Finch have since worked for DC and Marvel Comics.
In 1996, Top Cow briefly departed from Image during a power struggle with Image associate Rob Liefeld until Liefeld left the company shortly after. At the same time, Top Cow was moving more into the fantasy genre. New properties were Witchblade (where Turner had his first big success) and The Darkness (where Marc Silvestri returned to artist duties). Thanks to the success of Witchblade Top Cow was able to expand, adding to its line with titles that included The Darkness, Magdalena, Aphrodite IX, and others. Silvestri was heavily involved in training and developing new talent through the studio and Top Cow was known for a time for its "house style".
In addition to company owned properties Top Cow has from time to time worked with creators to develop creator-owned properties. These properties have included Turner's Fathom which eventually ended up at Aspen Comics, and Joe's Comics, created exclusively for J. Michael Straczynski, which included Rising Stars and Midnight Nation.
Top Cow is also known for bringing Tomb Raider's Lara Croft to comics, with various graphic novels written and drawn by some of the industry's best known creators, including Dan Jurgens, Paul Jenkins, and artist Andy Park. The cartoon Battle of the Planets is another licensed property in which Top Cow has invested, collaborating with cover artist Alex Ross.
In 2006, Top Cow made a business agreement with Marvel Comics to use several of their licensed properties in their own series, with characters including Wolverine and the Punisher, appearing in crossovers (Darkness/Wolverine and Witchblade/Punisher). Also, as part of this agreement, several Top Cow artists are to provide art chores on various Marvel series, such as Tyler Kirkham (Phoenix: Warsong and New Avengers/Transformers), Mike Choi (X-23: Target X), and Silvestri himself (X-Men: Messiah CompleX). At the 2007 San Diego Comic Con an announcement was made by Marvel Comics extending the deal into 2008. They have also used Kick Starter to fund some of the comics.
At the 2007 New York Comic Con it was announced that Top Cow would be one of the first major comics publishers to offer online distribution, through a partnership with IGN. The initial titles offered were Tomb Raider #1–50, The Darkness #1–50 and Witchblade #1–50, at around $1 per issue. They have also announced a deal with Zannel to license their comics as mobile comics.
Like many other comic book companies, Top Cow has used many of their properties to create video games, movies, and television series. To explain the late with which Top Cow produced non-comic book projects, Top Cow publisher Filip Sablik said in an interview with Nicholas Yanes that:
Both film and television, as well as video games and animation, are things that Top Cow is regularly and constantly pursuing. All of those things also take a long time to develop and set up. The Witchblade Anime that Gonzo produced and was released by FUNimation in the US took almost a decade to come to fruition. Add on to that Marc Silvestri and Matt Hawkins mantra of “we’d rather have no movie than a crappy movie” and you can see why it can take a while to bring a Witchblade or The Darkness movie to fans.
In December 2004, Dimension Films paid an undisclosed six-figure sum to develop a movie based on the comic, possibly for release in 2008. The film was pitched as a movie similar to The Crow, which was also produced by Dimension. There have been no further developments.
In March 2005, The Darkness was licensed by Majesco for a console game to be developed by Starbreeze Studios. 2K Games later obtained the rights to the game, and the first-person shooter was released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 console systems on June 25, 2007 in the United States and on June 29, 2007 in the EU (Xbox 360 only – PS3 version was released on July 20).
The game is mostly based on the events of the first volume of the Darkness comics, however it does alter some key elements such as having Paulie being the one that adopts Jackie. During the game, The Darkness holds true to the comics, with the same powers. Though the Darkness becomes extremely resillient, and tries to make you kill people, it is relatively docile toward the beginning of the game. By the time The Darkness realizes you are taking control of it then starts to try to persuade you to stop.
In February 2012, a sequel to the video game, entitled The Darkness II, was released for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The script for the game was written by comic book writer Paul Jenkins, who previously worked on The Darkness comic series. Unlike the first game, the graphics for The Darkness II were developed using a cel-shading technique, emulating the aesthetic of its graphic novel namesake. The style was achieved with the development artists hand painting the majority of the game's assets, instead of relying on digital methods to create a comic book style. It received positive reviews from critics.
Following a pilot film in August 2000, the cable network TNT premiered a television series based on the comic book series in 2001. The series was directed by Ralph Hemecker and written by Marc Silvestri (who also wrote the comic book) and J.D. Zeik. Yancy Butler starred as Sara Pezzini. Although critically acclaimed and popular with audiences, it was canceled in September 2002. Announced as a production decision, the cancellation nevertheless provoked widespread speculation that the true reason was Butler's alcohol addiction. Butler was ordered to enter rehab for alcohol addiction a year later, after being arrested for wandering intoxicated amidst traffic.
Witchblade ran for two seasons of 12 episodes on TNT. The first episode aired on June 12, 2001, and the last episode aired on August 26, 2002. On April 1, 2008, Warner Home Video announced a long-anticipated DVD release. Witchblade: The Complete Series — a seven-disc collectors set including the original made-for-TV movie, all 23 episodes of the series, and special features — was released July 29, 2008.
An American superhero film based on the series was announced in 2008. The film was to be directed by Michael Rymer, who directed the 2002 film Queen of the Damned and several episodes of Battlestar Galactica, and was to be written by Everett De Roche.
The film was one of two being produced and financed back-to-back by Platinum Studios, IDG Films and Relativity Media. The film was to be produced by Arclight's Gary Hamilton and Nigel Odell, Platinum Studios' Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, and Steve Squillante of Havenwood Media. Top Cow's Marc Silvestri and Matt Hawkins were to be executive producers with Platinum Studios' Rich Marincic and Greenberg Group's Randy Greenberg. Filming was announced to begin in September 2008, with China and Australia among the possible locations being considered for filming. Megan Fox was approached for the role of Sara Pezzini at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con.
In 2004 Japanese animation studio GONZO announced an anime version of Witchblade, with a subsequent manga adaptation. The anime version is considered controversial by some because GONZO has announced that the main character of the anime is of Japanese ethnicity but is not Itagaki, one of the previous bearers of the Witchblade. Instead it is a new character named Masane. Although this series sets up an entire new story, with all new characters, it is considered canon.
The anime series began broadcast during April 2006 and ran for 24 episodes (a standard series run). The lead character (and new blade wielder) is the kind-hearted Masane who, despite her good intentions, is fairly clumsy and not good around the house. After the events of an earthquake that struck her home six years before the series, "year zero", Masane has no recollection of her past prior to this date. When she comes into contact with the Witchblade, Masane also finds herself under the watchful eye of an organization called the NSWF (National Scientific Welfare Foundation), and struggles to hold on to her daughter Rihoko, whom the government is trying to take from her. Unlike the comic witchblade, which only induces bloodlust when in a violent confrontation and creates armor, the anime Witchblade entirely transforms Masane, giving her different eyes and hair, and will ultimately destroy her body.
- Graphic novel
- San-Diego Comic-Con International
- Angoulême International Comics Festival
- Semic Comics
- Image Comics
- Dean, Michael. "The Image Story, part 3". The Comics Journal. 2000 Retrieved April 20, 2007.
- NYCC 07/D2: Hawkins corrects/clarifies Top Cow Digital Comics, February 25, 2007, Newsarama
- SD Comic-Con 2010: Strange and Wondrous Things Brewing at Top Cow
- BAM! KAPOW! BOOM! Zannel And Top Cow Team Up To Fight Mobile Boredom, September 14, 2007
- "Filip Sablik – On The Evolution Of Top Cow Comics" Scifipulse.net (April 8, 2009).
- The Darkness: Levels at the Comic Book DB
- Josh, Grossberg (2002-09-05). ""Witchblade" Sliced by TNT". E! Online. Retrieved 2006-12-29.
- Josh, Grossberg (2003-11-24). ""Witchblade" Star Ordered to Rehab". E! Online. Retrieved 2006-12-29.
- Witchblade DVD news: Announcement for Witchblade – The Complete Series | TVShowsOnDVD.com
- "Witchblade Teaser Poster and Site Revealed "; superherohype.com; May 26, 2008.
- Official site of the 2009 feature film
- Michael Rymer at the Internet Movie Database
- BD Horror News – 'Witchblade' Director and Writer Revealed!
- McClintock, Pamela; "Pic trio wields 'Witchblade': Platinum, IDG, Relativity to finance, produce pics"; Variety; December 12, 2005.
- 'Witchblade' sharpened for bigscreen; Variety; May 11, 2008.
- War Report: Ron Marz Talks Witchblade
- "Top Cow Announces Witchblade Manga in 2007". Anime News Network. 2006-12-12. Retrieved 2007-03-24.
- Arrant, Chris (June 24, 2008). "Top Cow: Then and Now 1: Q&A with President Matt Hawkins". Newsarama.
- Arrant, Chris (June 25, 2008). "Top Cow: Then and Now 2: Q&A with Publisher Filip Sablik". Newsarama.
- Top Cow Productions at the Grand Comics Database
- Furey, Emmett (December 1, 2008). "WEEK OF TOP COW: Marc Silvestri". Comic Book Resources.
- Furey, Emmett (December 2, 2008). "WEEK OF TOP COW: Filip Sablik". Comic Book Resources.
- Weiland, Jonah (December 3, 2008). "WEEK OF TOP COW: Ron Marz & Phil Hester". Comic Book Resources. December 3, 2008
- Furey, Emmett (December 5, 2008). "WEEK OF TOP COW: Matt Hawkins". Comic Book Resources.
- Furey, Emmett (December 8, 2008). "WEEK OF TOP COW: Rob Levin". Comic Book Resources.
- Furey, Emmett (December 8, 2008). "The Future of Top Cow with Filip Sablik". Comic Book Resources.
- "Interview with Top Cow Productions Publisher, Filip Sablik". Flames Rising. May 1, 2010