Filip Sablik Talks Top Cow's History and Future

If you're the kind of reader who is looking for something outside the traditional, super hero comic book that's packed with rich art and intriguing characters, then you might be an excellent fit for the content that Top Cow Productions has been producing for well over fifteen years now. Don't take my word for it, however! Listen to Filip Sablik, Publisher of Top Cow, a man who has a clear vision and plan for a company that has a unique and vital position in the comic book world. During our interview, Sablik revealed a few upcoming plans for Top Cow, while giving some perspective on where the company has been in its history. Founded in 1992 by Marc Silvestri, during his co-founding of Image Comics, Top Cow emerged on the scene with properties such as Cyberforce, The Darkness, Witchblade and Hunter-Killer. These titles would soon become a cornerstone of the company. With that came a distinct place in the comics industry that Sablik feels is needed. "Top Cow has always focused on producing properties in genres that were under-represented in comics. Our books have roots in horror, supernatural, police procedurals, crime, science fiction, and espionage at a time when the majority of comics were stuck firmly in "cape and tights." That non-traditional approach has paid off, as Sablik said, "For a relatively small company we've really had quite a bit of success with Witchblade, both as an anime and a television show, The Darkness as a video game, and Wanted as a feature film." Part of that comes with properties the company creates that Sablik describes as full of potential for expansion into television, games and film, a focus for the company as a whole. With their rich visuals and detailed artwork, it's easy to see why Top Cow has that expansion aspect as a focus. According to Sablik, that's not by accident. "Our commitment to art has always been one of the hallmarks of Top Cow. Marc founded and still maintains one of the few remaining working art studios in comics and personally taught and mentored numerous artists, who became superstars in their own right. As much rightly deserved credit as Marc receives for being a influential artist in comics, I think his real legacy will be the artists he groomed and mentored like Michael Turner, David Finch, Joe Benitez, Randy Queen, Michael Choi, and others." In looking towards the next few years and trying to get more non-comics readers into comics through film and media adaptations, Sablik took some time to celebrate an important past year for Top Cow, describing how the company was able to produce the Top Cow Bible, a publication that chronicles all the properties the company has published over the years. It debuted at San Diego Comic-Con, and in addition to that, Sablik also felt proud that, "In a rough economic year, we continued to push the envelope in the types of stories we're telling and the artists we worked with," not a small feat given tough decisions that many comic book companies were and are making over the course of the past year and a half. Part of those stories Sablik mentioned will come to fruition this year, when Top Cow releases a thirteen-issue maxi-series called Artifacts, set for release in July. "This is the most ambitious event series we've ever attempted and will bring to fruition story threads that have been seeded for over a decade in Witchblade, The Darkness, and other titles in the 'supernatural' corner of our universe. To quote a frequently abused bit of hyperbole, "Nothing will ever be the same." While this is set to be a mega-event for the company this year, Sablik also wanted to highlight another successful venture for the company, their Pilot Season project. For the unfamiliar, Pilot Season lets fans vote on one-shots featuring original characters and series with the winner getting an ongoing series. "Fans have been really supportive of the annual event and I think they really enjoy being a part of the decision making process. We're the only publisher to regularly and sincerely place the decision making process in the hands of our fans. The only negative we've heard to date is that it has taken us a while to get the winning series in stores," said Sablik. He went on to explain that logistically it can be difficult to get the winning title in stores quickly, mainly because the series cannot begin until voting is concluded. Even though it may take six months to a year for the winner to appear in stores, Sablik promises that fans won't be disappointed! Velocity, Genius and Twilight Guardian will all appear in stores this year! Also in the works this year are, according to Sablik, "About a dozen different projects in active development,which is to say these properties are actively being worked on to be adapted into a film or television show or video game. Many of these I can't discuss and truthfully many of them will not come to fruition. The ones that I can mention that we are actively developing films of are The Darkness, Witchblade, Magdalena, and Alibi." If all of this seems a bit hard to jump into as a new reader or fan, fear not! Sablik has just the suggestion for getting into Top Cow's amazing space, "I would start with our flagship titles Witchblade and The Darkness. Both books have brilliant creators behind them right now with Ron Marz and Stjepan Sejic working on Witchblade and Phil Hester and several artists collaborating on The Darkness. Both series have $4.99 Volume 1 trades available in comic shops for fans to try out the series at the lowest entry point offered in the industry." To learn more about Top Cow and its numerous titles, and to see some of the impressive artwork Sablik talked about, visit topcow.com!