Top Cow

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IDW Aquires Top Cow

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IDW released information stating they have acquired Top Cow Productions.

 

IDW Publishing Acquires Top Shelf Productions

Two Industry Leaders Combine Forces

San Diego, CA (January 6, 2015) – Leading comic book and graphic novel publisher IDW Publishing announced today that it has acquired Top Shelf Productions, the award-winning independent publisher of graphic novels, including the #1 New York Times and Washington Post bestseller March by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (with Kevin O’Neill) and From Hell (with Eddie Campbell), Craig Thompson’s Blankets,Nate Powell’s Swallow Me Whole, and Jeff Lemire’s Essex County.
 
“The acquisition of Top Shelf is a milestone for IDW,” said Ted Adams, IDW CEO and publisher. “We looked a very long time for a company that would complement our own publishing line-up, and in Top Shelf we found the ideal match. The addition of Top Shelf’s library further positions IDW’s leadership role among the top powerhouses in comics.”

Top Shelf will remain a distinct imprint within IDW and co-founderChris Staros will join the company as Editor-in-Chief, Top Shelf Productions. Top Shelf’s fans can expect the same independent editorial approach that has garnered industry-wide awards and made it an envy among its peers.

“IDW is committed to preserving and growing the Top Shelf brand, which we’ve long admired” said IDW president and COO Greg Goldstein. “Chris and his team have built a great working relationship with creators, fans, and retailers alike, and IDW will work diligently to expand Top Shelf’s publishing capabilities and market reach while further developing those relationships.”

Founded in 1997, Top Shelf Productions offers a broad library of comic books and graphic novels from dozens of the industry’s top independent creators. Following the acquisition, Top Shelf’s headquarters will remain in Marietta, GA.
 
“Top Shelf and IDW complement each other perfectly,” said Top Shelf Productions co-founder and publisher Chris Staros. “We both started around the same time, and when I would watch IDW over the years, as a fellow publisher, I’d see them making smart move after smart move. Now I’m extremely excited to combine their talents and resources with Top Shelf’s award-winning literary approach to comics. And believe it or not, the idea to join forces hit us both at exactly the same time. Last year, as I was about to pitch Ted and Greg this ‘crazy’ idea, they approached me to suggest the same thing! How’s that for a good omen? Together, we’re going to be able to publish some incredible work. I’m really looking forward to this.”
 
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
 
FAQs

Will Top Shelf retain its own brand identity?
Absolutely. It will remain a distinct imprint within the IDW family of books.
 
How will IDW Publishing’s new ownership role directly impact Top Shelf?
IDW’s main role will be the support and management of Top Shelf’s infrastructure — production, sales, marketing and promotional initiatives. IDW will also provide additional funding to secure new breakout projects so that Top Shelf can direct their full attention to producing fan-favorite award-winning books.
 
IDW will use its 15 years of publishing experience to further enhance Top Shelf’s incredible line-up and ensure that the backlist is always available to an expanded retailer and consumer base.
 
What role will Chris Staros have going forward at Top Shelf?
Chris Staros will join the company as Editor-in-Chief of Top Shelf Productions and will expand his role as one of the most innovative editors, marketers and new talent scouts in the industry. Therefore, Top Shelf’s fans can expect the same independent editorial approach that has yielded first-rate books and garnered industry-wide awards.

What about the rest of The Top Shelf staff?
While Chris’ long-time friend and business partner, Brett Warnock, has decided to retire from the world of comics and explore business opportunities through his newly launched food and nature blog, the rest of the Top Shelf staff will remain in place to continue Top Shelf’s indy-focused operations: Leigh Waltonas Top Shelf’s Publicist & Marketing Director; Chris Ross as Lead Designer & Digital Director; and Zac Boone as Warehouse Manager.
 
How does this acquisition affect Top Shelf’s independent creators?
Top Shelf publishing agreements will be honored in full, with all creator rights and deal points continuing as they are currently written. IDW will also be able to ensure that Top Shelf’s extensive catalog stays in print, and all creators receive royalties on the solid schedule IDW is known for.
 
How will this transition affect retailers?
We anticipate a very smooth transition, as both IDW and Top Shelf use Diamond Comic Distributors and Diamond Book Distributors as their exclusive distribution partners for both the comic book specialty market and book market. The entire Top Shelf inventory is already being warehoused by Diamond in the same location as the IDW inventory.
 
How did the transaction come about?
IDW has been interested in pursuing an acquisition(s) for some time and earlier in 2014 retained industry veteran Bill Schanes (former VP of purchasing for Diamond) as a consultant to thoroughly investigate acquisition opportunities. Top Shelf, as it turned out, was by far the best of these and Bill facilitated the “matchmaking” early on. Once the companies got to know each other better, the rest was, as they say, history.

About IDW Publishing
IDW is an award-winning publisher of comic books, graphic novels and trade paperbacks, based in San Diego, California. Renowned for its perse catalog of licensed and independent titles, IDW publishes some of the most successful and popular titles in the industry, including: Hasbro’s The TRANSFORMERS, G.I. JOE and MY LITTLE PONY; Paramount’s Star Trek; Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; 2000AD’s Judge Dredd; The Rocketeer; Toho’s Godzilla; V-Wars from New York Times best-selling author Jonathan Maberry; Ragnarök from Eisner Award-winner Walter Simonson; Winterworld, created by Chuck Dixon and Jorge Zaffino; and Little Nemo from the award-winning duo of Eric Shanower and Gabriel Rodriguez. IDW is also home to the Library of American Comics imprint, which publishes classic comic reprints, Yoe! Books, a partnership with Yoe! Studio, and the multiple award-winning Artist’s Edition imprint. 
 
IDW’s critically- and fan-acclaimed series are continually moving into new mediums. Currently, Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Disney are creating a feature film based on World War Robot; Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Warner Brothers are producing a film based on Ashley Wood’s Lore; Michael Bay‘s Platinum Dunes and Sony are bringing Zombies vs. Robots to film, Kurtzman/Orci are producing a movie based on Locke & Key at Universal. 

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Exclusive: CBN’s Kenny Porter Talks Artifacts For Top Cow

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Not too long ago, writer Kenny Porter was a reviewer and columnist for Cosmic Book News. But the talented scribe won a contest put on by Top Cow and the fruition of that effort will be in stores Tuesday: Artifacts #33.

To get to the heart of this matter, M.E. Byron Brewer exclusively discussed the book and a number of other issues with Kenny. Here is his report:

Cosmic Book News: Kenny, as a comics fan and former comics reviewer, how does it feel to finally see your own comic book in print?

Kenny Porter: It’s exciting to say the least. I’ve been a comics fan since I was a little kid and I always dreamed of creating comic books. I started reviewing comics several years ago and just started writing my own shortly after that. The medium has so much to offer and now that we’re seeing a real revolution in creator-owned as well as licensed work it’s a thrilling time to get into the industry. I’ve done some of my independent work in small print runs, but this is the first time I’ve been through a major publisher and have had distribution through Diamond. It’s all still sinking in a little bit for me.

CBN: Tell us a little bit about how it felt to win Top Cow’s talent search for 2012.

Kenny Porter: I can still remember the moment it happened. I was kind of the last person to find out about it. The news broke while I was having dinner with some friends and my phone didn’t have any service. When I walked out of the restaurant I nearly had a heart attack from all of the notifications my phone had blown up with after it was announced. The amount of competition that was involved with the Top Cow Talent Hunt made me really take a step back and think about my writing and the progress I’ve made over the past few years.

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CBN: Okay, let’s get to the meat of it: Tell us about the protagonist of your book.

Kenny Porter: The protagonist of this issue of Artifacts is Tom Judge, a former priest and bearer of the artifact known as the Rapture. Similar to the Witchblade or the Darkness it gives the user special powers and transformative abilities. Judge can use the Rapture to turn into a brimstone form with incredible strength and powers. I try to test him in this one-shot both physically and mentally so that the theme of the book can focus on his struggle with having this supernatural power and pitting it against the unknown.

CBN: Can you explain the story a little bit, Kenny, without giving too much away?

Kenny Porter: The basic premise of the story is that Tom Judge and his partner Tilly Grimes have caught up with a serial killer who has claimed over fifty victims during his career. Judge thinks that he’s got the antagonist dead to rights, but soon finds out that there’s a lot more than he’s bargained for. A young girl’s life is on the line and Judge is determined to stop the killing spree that this horrific man has been on for the last several years.

CBN: May I ask what the inspiration was for the story?

Kenny Porter: The inspiration for the story came from my interest in stories about the dangers of black magic and cautionary tales about overestimating your abilities. Tom Judge is a character with a lot of power, but can’t solve every problem that comes his way. This one-shot puts him in a situation where he can’t use brute force to solve the problems that the serial killer has caused. That being said there’s still plenty of action for readers to sink their teeth into.

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CBN: How did it feel to work with editorial at a real comic book company after years online solo? Were there any differences of opinion on creative here or is it all Kenny Porter?

Kenny Porter: My experience with the editorial department at Top Cow has been very positive. The whole goal of the process was to expand the story and make it the best it could possibly be. Top Cow is truly a publisher that puts story and art on the same level, so both -Rom- and I were given lots of attention and detail that brought the book together. I enjoyed it a lot more than working solo, because I could find weaknesses and strengths in my writing that I might not have seen otherwise. I’ve worked with other editorial influences in the past (Visionary Comics and Viper Comics), but this experience made me realize how much I appreciate the work that editors do for the comics industry.

CBN: Big one: Were you pleased with the results on your book?

Kenny Porter: Absolutely, but that’s always a loaded question. As a writer I feel like no work is ever finished. But a huge part of writing is letting it go and putting it out into the world. I’m reminded of the scene in A Scanner Darkly where Robert Downey Jr. says, “We are all WAY too close to this.” After some time had passed and I read the issue as a whole I realized that we put together an interesting story that goes from a thriller, to action, and then to horror without being too jarring. I couldn’t be happier with the issue.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:12785:]]CBN: Is this a story that you would like to carry further?

Kenny Porter: There are some underlying elements I would love to explore further. The villain and his method of murder leave the door open for a lot of plot lines down the road. That of course is completely up to Top Cow on whether or not they would like to expand upon that in their universe (or let me do it), but I’m happy to open that door for them in future stories.

CBN: Tell us your opinion of the artist “-ROM-“.

Kenny Porter: I’ve never worked with an artist like -Rom- before. She has a very dynamic painted style that stands out from a lot of other artwork. We were on the same wavelength when it came to how the story should be paced and what we should focus on when it came to the characters and the action. We’ve talked since finishing the issue and would love to work on something together in the future if our schedules align again.

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CBN: Kenny, any projects current or in the future you would care to discuss?

Kenny Porter: When it comes to comic projects I’ve always got something in the pipeline. Right now I’m working on some pitches and creator-owned work with some fantastic local artists in Michigan, as well as some very talented friends of mine who live in New Orleans. I have notebooks full of ideas and plenty of scripts backlogged, so right now it’s just a matter of finishing the projects and getting them out there into the world.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Kenny Porter for granting us this interview.

Look for “Artifacts” #33 from Top Cow on Tuesday!

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Exclusive: Larime Taylor Talks About Rare Congenital Disorder & Writing/Drawing “A Voice In The Dark”

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Coming in November from Top Cow is an utterly unique reading experience, not only the product but its creator as well.
 
A Voice in the Dark is a new ongoing by Larime Taylor, who was born with a condition that renders his limbs useless.
 
After an SDCC interview with Taylor, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer knew he had to have a more in-depth interview with this one-of-a-kind comics creator. Also be sure to check out the trailer for A Voice in the Dark featuring Mr. Taylor following the interview.
 
Cosmic Book News: Larime, I marvel at your talent. But I am sure there has been a price in growing up and being born with Arthrogrysposis. Tell us about the disease and that challenges of your life as a child.
 
Larime Taylor: Arthrogryposis is a birth defect that basically stunts development of the arms and legs in utero. My arms and legs are contracted in fixed positions, so I have little use of them. I’ve used a power wheelchair and drawn with my mouth since age 4 or 5. Things were pretty normal for me through the 5th grade because I grew up with the kids in my classes, they knew me since Kindergarten, but moved to a different town before 6th grade and the adjustment was rough. I never really fit in very well after that. I wasn’t constantly teased or bullied, but I just never felt much of a connection. I only had a handful of friends.
 

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Cosmic Book News: It takes a special person to not only cope but overcome the physical situation. Tell us about these life challenges, then and now.
 
Larime Taylor: I’ve lived with it all my life, so it’s all I know. I don’t have any other point of reference. For me, this is normal. Basically, it just takes me longer to do some things, or I have to find different ways of doing them. I’ve always had to think around corners.
 
Cosmic Book News: How ever did art enter your life?
 
Larime Taylor: Like most kids, I just drew a lot. I was lucky in that my mom is a very talented artist, so she started teaching me and really encouraged me.
 
Cosmic Book News: What types of art have you worked with and how did you develop your mouth technique, for lack of a better term?
 
Larime Taylor: I’ve mostly been a caricature and portrait artist, which is why I can draw faces and emotions so well but struggle with pretty much everything else! People have been my bread and butter for years. Learning to draw backgrounds and buildings and cars, that’s been the challenge.
 

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Cosmic Book News: Do you still have trouble functioning in everyday society, or has that become second nature now?
 
Larime Taylor: I get by. I definitely see things and experience things most people don’t, but I’m used to it by now for the most part.
 
Cosmic Book News: How did you become interested in comics?
 
Larime Taylor: I grew up with spinner racks in 7-11 and such, so comics were still a daily part of pop culture. I read comics, like most kids. I liked X-Men, Wolverine, all the usual suspects. I was never a huge fan or collector, though. It wasn’t until college when I started reading The Crow, Strangers in Paradise, and Sandman that I really became a fan of the medium.
 
Cosmic Book News: Do you have any favorite comic books or comic strips?
 
Larime Taylor: Past favorites are the three I mentioned above, plus things like 100 Bullets, Love and Rockets, etc. Stuff I read and like now? Rachel Rising, Think Tank, Saga, Fell, The Walking Dead, Scott Pilgrim
 
Cosmic Book News: How did you and Top Cow get together?
 
Larime Taylor: They were one of the six or so publishers I submitted to, and Matt Hawkins was really positive about the book. I’m thrilled to be at Top Cow and a part of the Image family.
 

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Cosmic Book News: Tell us a little about the complex path as a project of A Voice in the Dark, what has been and what will be in November.
 
Larime Taylor: It started as a Kickstarter last October to fund a complete single issue to use as a submission package, rather than the standard 5 pages and a pitch. I wanted to show that I was serious, professional, and motivated. The Kickstarter raised 600% of the goal, so I turned it into a 3-issue mini and printed a trade for the backers. That trade got me the deal as an ongoing series with Top Cow. Issue #1 comes out in November, and contains 2/3 of that Kickstarter story. #2 is the last third, and everything going forward from #3 is new content I’m doing now.
 
Cosmic Book News: Going back a moment, you have been a caricature artist since the age of 14. How did that help you in your art and how did it help you in life?
 
Larime Taylor: It’s made me pretty good with drawing faces, consistent characters, and expressions. It also taught me to draw fast, since caricature artists get paid by the drawing, not by the hour. It’s made me a pretty fast artist – I can do 1-2 completed comics pages a day, so about an issue and a half to two issues a month.
 
Cosmic Book News: Your drawings are so simple and yet capture such personality and mood. Do you think your unique drawing method lends itself to that?
 
Larime Taylor: I think it comes from being a caricature artist, which is all about capturing the person’s likeness and personality as quickly and cleanly as possible.
 
Cosmic Book News: You do everything in you works. How do you plot your stories? Drawings first and plotting along, or plot and then the art/script?
 
Larime Taylor: I plot in arcs, as outlines, then write the scripts. I shoot the entire issue as photographs from the script for reference, do the layouts, and often will even letter based on the photo pages, then draw the art and drop it into the finished pages.
 

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Cosmic Book News: I noticed you are not much for coloring. Is there a reason?
 
Larime Taylor: I’m horrible at it! I’m a line artist. Shading and toning is about the extent of my abilities, hence the book being black and white.
 
Cosmic Book News: Could you achieve what you do if we did not have the technology that is available today?
 
Larime Taylor: No. I really couldn’t. Being able to draw sitting upright, on the screen, where I can zoom in and out and rotate the art easily has made me much better than when I drew flat on a table, hunched over. I can do horizontal lines easier than vertical, so spinning the page and changing angles is huge for me. I can draw freely, now. Before, I’d be all cramped and hunched and restricted.
 
Cosmic Book News: Explain a little about the tech you utilize.
 
Larime Taylor: I draw with a Wacom Cintiq, a tablet-screen that Wacom donated to me. It’s really changed my life. My computer is a 6-core with 16GB of RAM. It’s an art monster.
 
Cosmic Book News: What does it mean to have “Voice” coming out from a top indie publisher?
 
Larime Taylor: It’s great. It’s awesome to be at Top Cow and to be a part of Image.
 
Cosmic Book News: Since becoming associated with Top Cow, have you met any fellow creators you had been hoping to meet?
 
Larime Taylor: Honestly? I’m a terrible geek, and don’t recognize most creators on sight. At conventions I’m always trying to read name badges! I have met a few of my online creator friends, like Terry Moore, Jimmie Robinson, and Gail Simone. Meeting them in person was great. I also got to meet Humberto Ramos, who is probably my favorite penciller in comics, and he was a really nice guy. I’ve met Erik Larsen, who is incredibly kind, and Marc Silvestri, obviously, who is a total rockstar.
 

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Cosmic Book News: As an obvious role model, what would you say to others suffering from physical handicaps who are trying to develop some talent or other?
 
Larime Taylor: I really don’t see myself that way. I’m just a guy doing the only thing he really can, trying to make a living. I guess I’d say, figure out what you’re good at and do it and never let anyone tell you that you can’t.
 
Cosmic Book News: Anything on the horizon for your creative juices aside from “Voice?”
 
Larime Taylor: I’m pretty much focused on this right now. I have other ideas on the back burner, mostly as a writer since my artistic skills are limited, but my main priority is making this book as successful as I can.
 
Cosmic Book News: Is there any ritual you go through before beginning your fabulous works?
 
Larime Taylor: Not really? I always have music or podcasts or movies going on in the background. I don’t work well in silence. I need a distraction so I can auto-pilot the art. It sounds strange,  but I do best when I don’t think too much and just trust my instincts. I’m OCD and end up hyper-focussing, otherwise.
 

“A Voice in the Dark” #1 from Top Cow hits in November!

Follow Larime Taylor on Twitter @XLarimeX.

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Post-SDCC Exclusive: Top Cow top dog Matt Hawkins talks of new mini-series, Control the Clock

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One of the chief announcements made at last week’s SDCC was by Top Cow President Matt Hawkins, who told fans of a new mini-series he will be writing called Control.

To find out about the coming comic, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer exclusively emailed some queries to the Top Cow top dog. We later received these replies, post-SDCC.

Cosmic Book News: Matt, tell us how the idea for the Control mini-series came about.

Matt Hawkins: We’re actually calling this one Control the Clock now.  I wanted to call it The Clock but apparently Warren Ellis was doing a book called that.  Changing it to Control temporarily, David Crispino chimed in about his book so I changed it to Control the Clock! This book is about a geneticist working out of Georgetown who is the foremost authority on cancer research.  It’s a eugenics conspiracy story about trying to cut overpopulation via some insidious means involving genetic warfare.  I love science and the science in this story is accurate as well.  I don’t want to give too much away this early but it’s kind of Think Tank meets the X-Files without the aliens.

CBN: How does the president of Top Cow find time to write so many ongoings and minis?

Matt Hawkins: All time management. (laughs) I work out my days now so that I can write during the mornings and do business in the afternoons and I try to get to email when I can, heh.  For me it’s simply prioritizing what needs to get done.  I’m a quick writer and believe in rewriting so that helps me get some of this stuff done.  I’m responding to this email after Comic-Con in the airport while waiting for my flight so you find the time.

CBN: Tell us about the basic story of Control the Clock.

Matt Hawkins: The story of a family in crisis amidst a morality play of the cataclysmic problems of overpopulation versus the evils of eugenics told from the POV of a man investigating the “murder” of his wife. 

CBN: What challenges does your protagonist face along the way in such an unusual adventure?

Matt Hawkins: He discovers that he’s part of the conspiracy and that he’s unwittingly caused a lot of damage.  That’s a tough one to swallow. 

CBN: Can you tell us about the big bad in this limited series?

Matt Hawkins: The bad guy is a Senator who is the leader of an international cabal that is trying to protect the world by killing a lot of people.  It’s twisted but believable.

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CBN: Matt, might there be a chance for such an intriguing series to become an ongoing?

Matt Hawkins: Never say never, but with Aphrodite, Tales of Honor and Think Tank I can’t see me doing any more ongoing series unless one of those falls off.

CBN: What does artist Colleen Doran bring to the table here? Are you a fan?

Matt Hawkins: I am a huge fan Colleen and I’ve been friends for a very long time.  I’ve always wanted to work with her and this is the opportunity!

CBN: At mini-series’ end, what do you hope readers will take away from Control the Clock?

Matt Hawkins: Fear of the reality of our situation on this planet.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Matt Hawkins for answering our questions following a very busy San Diego Comic Con.

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Darkness Movie Announced With Witch Blade & Angelus

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Top Cow comics held their Comic-Con panel today where it was announced that a Darkness feature film was in the works.

The Darkness movie is said to feature not only Jackie Estrada, but Sara Pezzini as Witch Blade in addition to Angelus.

New Regency, Mandeville and Sketch Film are said to be behind the Darkness movie.

Bleeding Cool also reports that the Darkness movie is further along than a “development” phase.

The Darkness first appeared in the comic books in 1996 created by Marc Silvestri.

It’s considered one of the universe’s primordial forces and enables the bearer to control the power of The Darkness which includes the power to summon the Darklings as well as suit up in a type of armor.

The Darkness creatures and constructs are susceptible to light, with the Angelus being it’s rival and opposite.

Throughout the years The Darkness has been featured in many comic books as well as its own video game series.

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Comic-Con Exclusive: Unique writer/artist Larime Taylor to do ongoing for Top Cow

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To talk to Larime Taylor is to admire him.

The one-man comic book factory (he writes, pencils, inks, shades and letters black-and-white comics) has only been experimenting with the medium for a little over a year, but art is as much a part of him as his keen mind and brave heart.

One of the announcements coming from Top Cow during SDCC is a new ongoing from this unique writer/artist called A Voice in the Dark, launching in November.

Why is Taylor unique? Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer caught up with him exclusively and got his story as well as some juicy tidbits about his coming book.

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Cosmic Book News: If you will, Larime, tell us all about yourself and the special circumstance of your talent.

Larime Taylor: I was born with Arthrogryposis, a birth defect that stunts development of the limbs in utero, and leaves me with very little use of my arms and legs. I use a power wheelchair to get around, and I draw with my mouth. I am the sole creator on the book — I write, draw, tone and letter it, all by mouth. I work on a Wacom Cintiq, doing everything digitally.

CBN: Tell us how the A Voice in the Dark project came about.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:9547:]]Larime Taylor: It started in late 2012 as a Kickstarter campaign (then called Dark Zoey) to fund a single-issue submission package to send to publishers in the hopes of getting it picked up as an ongoing series. I treated it a lot like a pilot for television — produce a completed issue to show proof of concept, art and writing skills, and professionalism. Most submissions are 5 pages of sample art and a pitch, but I wanted to show that I was serious and ready to go from day one.

The response to the Kickstarter was overwhelming, due in large part to the support of industry pros like Gail Simone, Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis and Joe Hill, all of whom retweeted and spread the word. I ended up at 600 percent of my goal, so I turned it into a 3-issue mini that I put out in serial format online for my backers, and compiled into a trade to be printed and sent to them upon completion. That trade also served as my pitch or submission package to publishers at Wonder Con. I had several publishers interested, and ended up at Top Cow as a part of the Minotaur Press line of black-and-white, creator-owned books.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:9548:]]CBN: Will this be an ongoing series? Can you tell us about the initial storyline?

Larime Taylor: It will be a monthly ongoing series starting in November of 2013. Issue #1 will be a double issue, containing the first two-thirds of the Kickstarter trade, and #2 will be the last third. New content that I’m working on now will become #3 and on.

The first two issues, the Kickstarter content, are an introduction to the story and characters, setting things up for stories to come. It focuses on Zoey Aarons, a young woman of mixed race attending a prestigious Women’s College in California on an academic scholarship. Zoey is a straight-A student, graduated top of her class in high school, and appears to most people to be a model student.

She’s also a serial killer.

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CBN: You seem to have a great talent for expression that is unique. How did you come to apply it to cartooning?

Larime Taylor: I have been a caricature artist since the age of 14, drawing caricatures at parties, festivals, wedding receptions, etc. It trained me to capture personality and mood as quickly and simply as possible, which translates well to comics and gives me a very clean and expressive style.

CBN: Might we see other works by Larime Taylor coming from Top Cow in the near future?

Larime Taylor: Right now I’m just focused on this book, and making it the best it can be. I do work pretty fast, though, completing about 2 issues a month, so I may look to branch out somewhere down the line.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Larime Taylor for taking time out of his schedule to answer our questions. We would also like to thank Top Cow’s own Matt Hawkins and Siike Donnelly who helped make this interview possible.

“A Voice in the Dark” #1 from Top Cow hits in November!

Follow Larime Taylor on Twitter @XLarimeX.

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Exclusive: Before SDCC, Top Cow President Matt Hawkins discusses the future of Think Tank

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Think Tank has been a fan and critical success for Top Cow Productions and the company recently announced the comic book will continue as an ongoing.

To celebrate the news and learn what is in store for Dr. David Lauren, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer buttonholed Top Cow president and Think Tank writer Matt Hawkins exclusively before the SDCC for this interview.

Cosmic Book News: Matt, congratulations on Think Tank continuing past its proposed 12th issue. Will this be under the Top Cow label now or Minotaur Press, and is there a planned end point for the book?

Matt Hawkins: It’s under the Minotaur Press label and there is no current planned end point for the book.

CBN: I have asked you before, as I am sure have others, but where does the Top Cow president and COO get time to write any book, much less such a complex one?

Matt Hawkins: Lots and lots of caffeine! (laughs) Seriously, when it’s something you love you find the time. Writing Think Tank and working with guys like Rahsan Ekedal and Stjepan Sejic makes it easy for me.

CBN: For the uninitiated, tell us about Dr. David Loren and his past world.

Matt Hawkins: Dr. David Loren is a genius level weapons designer for a DARPA military lab. He was recruited at a young age and was excited at first about all the technology and access to the brightest minds. Flash forward 10 years and the reality of what he’s doing has sunk in. He’s killing people, both directly and indirectly and he can’t figure out if all of them are bad or not. The first trade paperback is about this realization and how he’s faking his research so he doesn’t get anything done and how the military and he react to that. He’s a man-child but insanely smart and his social interactions are somewhat off and on occasion humorous.

CBN: Directly or indirectly, Dr. Loren has probably been responsible for hundreds of deaths. But recently he experienced death up close and personal. How has this changed the character?

Matt Hawkins: There’s always that argument that you were just a part of something that put something together and that other people use it to kill … but when the blood splashes on your face it’s a whole different experience. He was already having a moral crisis but add a death right in front of him that he feels he caused (he didn’t pull the trigger) and it’s a whole different thing. I want to take David on a gamut of emotions and show how someone in his position would deal with these things.

CBN: What is it about this character you like? What makes you as a writer come to him time and again, getting new ideas, fresh ideas?

Matt Hawkins: Well, the human emotional element is easy; just write a character as if he’s a real person. I dream about David sometimes, it’s kind of weird. A lot of the ideas I get from writing the book and thinking about what could be done. The tech and science I get by reading journals and staying current with what’s going on in the world.

CBN: Did we hear the good doctor will be moving into the field, so to speak?

Matt Hawkins: Yes, in the third arc he is out in the field for the first time. The third arc takes place in Taiwan and China.

CBN: You obviously enjoy working real world science or science theory into this book. Anything exciting we can look forward to?

Matt Hawkins: After issue #12, I’m going to jump back into more of the unique science stuff.  I love cybrids, chimeras and all of the crazy genetic secrets unlocked by the Genome Project. We’re at the beginning of a bold new era in genetics research that is going to change everything.

CBN: Dr. Loren has faced a time of betrayals of differing scales. How does this, if at all, affect David and Mirra?

Matt Hawkins: Ultimately he loves her and that love will break through all of their problems and differences.  

CBN: Why is Rahsan Ekedal right for Think Tank? What does his art bring to the table?

Matt Hawkins: Rahsan is a master storyteller and I could not see doing this book with any other artist. His facial expressions and the way he draws David’s even … bad posture … I think is pretty amazing.

CBN: So what is next for writer Matt Hawkins?

Matt Hawkins: Stay tuned for [the San Diego] Comic-Con announcements! 

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Matt Hawkins for taking the time from his very busy schedule before SDCC to answer our nosy M.E.

“Think Tank” #8 is on sale now!

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Exclusive: Top Cow president Matt Hawkins discusses the new life and times of Aphrodite IX

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Aphrodite IX returned to the world of comic books on Free Comic Book Day and now is ready for another run courtesy of writer Matt Hawkins, artist Stjepan Sejic and Top Cow.

To find the meat of this series, getting ready to release issue #3 in July, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer caught up exclusively with Hawkins and logged one humdinger of an interview about the femme fatale.

Cosmic Book News: Matt, what was the catalyst for this current iteration of Aphrodite IX?

Matt Hawkins: We relaunched Cyber Force and I was initially co-writing that with [Marc] Silvestri before he took it over completely. He’s using Aphrodite V in that series and we talked a lot about what that character does and how she fits into that world. I had a lot of ideas and went back and reread the old book that [Dave] Finch and [David] Wohl did. At the same time, Stjepan Sejic told me he wanted to do a fantasy/sci-fi book where he could make up awesome stuff and not bother with reference like he had been doing on Artifacts. We started talking about that and decided this would be fun to do together.

CBN: For a book that started as filler in Wizard, Aphrodite has had quite the life — as a character and a property. Tell us about the world that this android inhabits as first seen in the FCBD issue.

Matt Hawkins: Well, first off, she’s not an android. If you read the FCBD issue, she’s a human girl named April that was both technologically and genetically enhanced as part of the Aphrodite Protocol. This initiative was to create beings that would survive an extinction level event and repopulate the Earth after humanity was wiped out. This Aphrodite IX “April” has been frozen in status for hundreds of years and is discovered by accident in the aftermath of a battle. She wakes up to a world at war between two disparate groups in a “tribal” war, for lack of a better word for it. She’s the perfect point of view character because she has no idea what is going on.

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CBN: Was it fan enthusiasm for the book/character in May that led to this month’s issue #2? And is this an ongoing at this point or a limited series?

Matt Hawkins: The plan is for an ongoing series and that was always the plan. We always intended that the FCBD #1 was the first issue of a continuing series. As with all these things, its longevity will depend on sales. Stjepan Sejic is very fast and I’m the cheapest writer I have in our stable (FREE) so assuming we find an audience we could keep the title going for years.

CBN: Will Aphrodite IX suffer from her predecessors’ memory problems? And if do, how does this figure into the plot?

Matt Hawkins: Yes, she has no memory of events prior to her rebirth in this new environment and when she is “slaved” by her handler Burch who was also woken out of hibernation she is used like a puppet for 20 minutes and kills whoever they target. Once the 20 minutes has expired, she wakes up with no memory of the intervening time period. This was by design so that the “assassin” would be somewhat disposable and unable to recount motive or who her handlers were.

CBN: Will this assassin’s “missions” tie together at some point?

Matt Hawkins: Yes.

CBN: Matt, do you have any favorite stories from Aphrodite IX comics past?

Matt Hawkins: I enjoyed the original graphic novel that Wohl/Finch did quite a bit but my favorite Aphrodite story is when IV was in the Witchblade arc that Ron Marz wrote a few years ago. That one was a lot of fun.

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CBN: Why is artist Stjepan Sejic right for this book? Are you a fan?

Matt Hawkins: His realistic painting portrayals are great for sci-fi and fantasy! I am indeed a huge fan of his and wouldn’t be doing this book without him.

CBN: As Top Cow president, how do you manage time to also write. And what else might we expect down the line from scribe Hawkins?

Matt Hawkins: It’s all about time management and not ultimately getting everything done. I have to-do lists on a daily/weekly basis and certain things just never seem to get done, but I prioritize and reprioritize. It seems to work, heh. I’m working on a project with Colleen Doran that we’ll be announcing at ComiCon and another project that is an adaptation of a series of novels that we’ll also be announcing at ComiCon. Lots of good stuff coming up!

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Matt Hawkins for taking time out of his very busy schedule to answer our questions.

“Aphrodite IX” #3 hits shelves on July 10th!

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Top Cow’s “The Test” Getting Developed At SyFy With “No Place”

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:6794:]]The Top Cow Pilot Season comic book, The Test, is getting picked up by SyFy for adaptation and will be titled No Place.

The Test was part of Top Cow’s 2011 Pilot Season written by Joshual Hale Fialkov with art by Rahsan Ekedal.

Here’s the first issue solicit. Find more about the SyFy No Place show below.

The Harvey nominated creative team of ECHOES, JOSHUA HALE FIALKOV (I’Vampire) and RAHSAN EKEDAL (Solomon Kane) reunite to kick off 2011’s PILOT SEASON competition with TEST. A group of ten strangers wake up in a mysterious town with no memory of who they are and how they got there. They are the lone survivors of an apocalyptic event, chosen to repopulate the Earth. But what is the true nature of their fate? 

TEST offers a fresh take on survivalist horror and psychological thriller in the way only FIALKOV and EKEDAL can!

 

Press Release

Syfy is joining creative forces with Fox Television Studios, Academy Award(C)-winning director/producer Robert Zemeckis, producers Jack Rapke and Jackie Levine, and feature film writing team John Brancato and Michael Ferris (Terminator Salvation, The Game) to develop the series project No Place, it was announced today by Mark Stern, President of Original Content, Syfy and Co-Head Original Content, Universal Cable Productions. Zemeckis and Rapke are executive producers along with Brancato and Ferris who will write the pilot.

Circle of Confusion will also produce the project with David Alpert (The Walking Dead) and Rick Jacobs as executive producers. Matt Hawkins and Marc Silvestri serve as executive producers for Top Cow.
 
In No Place, residents of a high-tech gated community awaken one morning to find themselves alone and cut off from the rest of reality – nothing exists beyond the community’s walls. Only one man has contact with the powers responsible for what is known as “The Rift,” and he must lead his fellow residents beyond the void to discover the truth.
 
“We are very excited to be in business with this amazing A-list team,” said Stern. “We look forward to them bringing their high-quality feature-level sensibility to this taut sci-fi drama.”
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CBN’s Own Ken Porter Wins Top Cow Talent Hunt Contest!

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:6436:]]Cosmic Book News would like to congratulate our very own Ken Porter who has been chosen as a winner of the 2013 Top Cow Talent Hunt contest.

Top Cow’s President and Chief Operating Officer Matt Hawkins and CEO Marc Silvestri sorted through hundreds of submissions picking five winners and announced the news at CBR.

“The Talent Hunt is finding amateur writers and artists who’ve never been published by one of the big publishing houses and giving them a chance to be published and showcase their work to a larger audience,” Hawkins told CBR. “These books will be published in print.”

Ken Porter’s submission was one of the tree chosen amongst 1100 entries.

“We received over 800 writer submissions, some of which submitted more than once for a total of 1100 different synopsis/script submissions,” Hawkins continued. “With the writers, we had a list of several Top Cow Universe characters (Ji Xi, Michael Finnegan, Sabine, Glorianna Silver, Tom Judge) that writers could submit one-off, self-contained stories about. Essentially, they were pitching stories of existing characters as part of the newer Rebirth universe initiative we’ve been doing.

“The writing was infinitely harder [to narrow down] and took me almost three months to read, process and choose the winners,” Hawkins added. “I was looking primarily for interesting character stories.  It took me about 15 minutes a piece to go through all 1100 submissions so if you do that quick math that’s 275 hours — took me a long ass time! I enjoyed it though.”

Below you can read Ken Porter’s pitch to Top Cow which nabbed him a top spot.

You can also currently catch Ken’s comic book work with Ink Ribbon #1, and be sure to follow the writer on twitter @KenBlakePorter!

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Your Alternative Comics Beat For December 14th, 2012

A Reason to Love Science Again

The only technologies that people seem to get a rise out of these days are cell phone related. No one is jumping up and down for announcements at NASA like we used to or excited to find out about suits that can turn you invisible. I can’t say for sure that the invisible suits actually exist, but my pick for the Alternative Comics Beat this week sure makes me hope so. Matt Hawkins wanted to create a comic book series this past year that made people like science. After reading four issues of Think Tank from Top Cow and Image Comics, I’d say he’s done what he set out to do.

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Think Tank – The Premise

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David Loren is one of the top researchers for the government’s weapon defense programs and is possibly the smartest person on the planet. The only problem is that he’s sick of inventing things that kill people and he wants out. With nothing but his superior wits on his side, David must escape his government captors and finally reach freedom.

If he doesn’t escape it could mean imprisonment and torture, and then there’s no way he’s going to get back into his regular habit of playing video games. The story is super science, comedy, and rock star lifestyle all rolled into one heck of an entertaining comic book series.

 

The Creators

The series was created by Matt Hawkins (writer) and Rahsan Ekedal (artist). Hawkins’ writing and dialogue feel genuine for each character and David quickly becomes likable within a few panels. The story is told mostly in captions through David’s thoughts (or possibly a journal) but it never becomes too bogged down with words.

Ekedal’s artwork is very fitting for this title. He has a way of portraying eyes on each character that make you believe that they’re really emoting. It doesn’t feel like a drawing of someone’s response, it feels like an animated photograph. It was also a really bold choice to go with black and white for the book, but it really works and lets you focus on Ekedal’s style.

 

What Makes It Different

I’ve always had a love of characters in fiction that use their brains instead of brawn. Doctor Who, Egon Spengler, and Donatello (TMNT not the artist) are a few fictional characters that I always sympathized with. Hawkins and Ekedal have taken someone who is unique purely for his intellect and love of science and made them the lead in a comic book.

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Sure, Tony Stark might be a genius, but he’s also got a suit of armor. Despite having a giant I.Q., most of his problems are solved with repulsor rays. All David has to go on in Think Tank is his intelligence and his instincts. It’s a type of character in comics that often gets put on a team or is in the background but doesn’t get to play the main role often. He’s the lead because he’s an interesting character, which is what should always be put first when it comes to any kind of storytelling.

 

Why You Should Read It

Audiences have a love of super intelligent and witty guys. If they didn’t, Iron Man wouldn’t be one of the most popular movie and comic book characters out there today. It’s important that we remember how cool science and intelligence can be. I’m no genius, far from it, but reading this book makes me interested in science again. I can’t say that I’ll be developing a mind altering gas or an app that lets me read people’s minds, but the interest is still there.

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Superhero stories do offer us lots of science fiction elements, but rarely do we get a series that’s solely based on realistic backdrops and doesn’t have capes and tights in the narrative. It’s worth checking out if you’re a big fan of Tony Stark’s personality, with or without the armor.

 

Availability

Think Tank Vol. 1 was just released from Top Cow and Image Comics and is sold for $14.99. It’s got the first four issues and is what I’ve pretty much based this entire installment on. Those first four issues really hold together and can turn any naysayer into a fan. If you’re looking for something to add to your stack outside of the norm, Think Tank is a great alternative.

Ken Porter also writes comic books with his latest being “Ink Ribbon” from Visionary Comics.

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Image Comics and Top Cow Announce Think Tank

Press Release

WAR’S NO GAME IN THINK TANK
New thriller from Top Cow’s Minotaur Press
 


[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1975:]]BERKELEY, CA – June 12, 2012 — Image Comics and Minotaur Press, an imprint of Top Cow Productions, proudly announce the newest addition to their critically acclaimed line: THINK TANK. From the creative minds of Matt Hawkins (LADY PENDRAGON, PILOT SEASON: THE TEST) and Rahsan Ekedal (ECHOES, Solomon Kane), THINK TANK #1blends taut action with the actual science of today. 

Child prodigy, inventor, genius, slacker– mass murderer. These are all ways to describe the brilliant Dr. David Loren. When a military think tank’s smartest scientist decides he can no longer stomach creating weapons of destruction, will he be able to think his way out of his dilemma or find himself subject to the machinations of smaller men? 

Debuting in August, THINK TANK is a science action thriller that will appeal to fans of other hit Image series like MANHATTAN PROJECTS and THE ACTIVITY.

“Dr. Loren’s life and situation are my commentary on American so-called exceptionalism in a modern day setting with real science and weapons that you’ve never heard of that do actually exist,”  said writer Matt Hawkins. “The drones you see on TV flying in Afghanistan are decades-old technology. We marvel at these but the stuff coming out of DARPA and actual think tanks today rivals some of the most creative stuff you see in the best science fiction.”

Published under Top Cow Productions’ Minotaur Press imprint, the 32-page, black and white THINK TANK #1 will be in stores on Wednesday, August 1st, 2012 for $3.99. It is available for pre-order now in the June issue of Previews (order code JUN120435).

ABOUT IMAGE COMICS
Image Comics is a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded in 1992 by a collective of best-selling artists. Image has since gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. Image currently has five partners: Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri and Jim Valentino. It consists of five major houses: Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline, Skybound and Image Central. Image publishes comics and graphic novels in nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable. It offers science fiction, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today. For more information, visit www.imagecomics.com.

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