Welcome to the Top Cow Pubwatch, where I run down the hows and nows of Top Cow Productions. What’s New this month? Well, following last week’s Library Con, Top Cow has been eager to get in touch with librarians, offering a Facebook group to help librarians and educators engage more readers with graphic novels.
Top Cow has teamed up with Humble Bundle to fight fire with Sci-Fi and Sex. Pay what you want for bundles that include The Darkness, Witchblade, Sunstone, and other Top Cow titles. Funds go toward the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Musicians on Call, or Direct Relief, which is the humanitarian aid organization working to support California residents affected by the deadly wildfires.
Who knew some of Top Cow’s badgirls crossed over with Dynamite’s badgirls? I did not—until now. The four-part “Monster War” crossover, featuring Lara Croft, the Witchblade, and the Magdelena, in another bundle this month.
— DynamiteComics (@DynamiteComics) November 6, 2018
After a successful Kickstarter for the first issue, Top Cow announced that they would be publishing the remaining issues of La Voz De M.A.Y.O. Tata Rambo. Created by Henry Barajas, Top Cow’s director of operations, the story follows the heroism of Barajas’ own great-grandfather, Ramon Jaurigue, an activist, WWII vet, and civil rights leader. Jaurigue fought to keep the Yaqui people from being displaced to make way for the Interstate 10 and founded the Mexican, American, Yaqui, and Others (M.A.Y.O.) organization.
“La Voz continues the long-standing Top Cow tradition of breaking out new, diverse creators while uplifting marginalized voices the comic book industry often ignores,” Top Cow President and COO Matt Hawkins told The Beat.
Winter is coming—or if I look out my window, it’s already here. Sigh. If you don’t mind the cold, then you need to check out Dan Wickline and Phillip Sevy’s The Freeze.
“The entire human population is frozen by a mysterious global event … all except Ray, and only he has the power to unfreeze them. Now with the fate of the world in his hands, he must figure out what is going on, how to set things right again, and answer the question: does everyone deserve to be saved?”
“The idea for The Freeze,” explains Wickline, “popped in my head many years ago when I was a computer programmer and saw a co-worker sitting so still that it appeared he was frozen. My mind took that idea and ran with it. But that’s just where the concept started, the real heart of The Freeze comes from years and years of reading, watching and listening to science fiction stories. I grew up watching the Twilight Zone and listening to copies of the old X-23 radio program, and the thing I loved the most about those stories was how the writers used these fantastical world to tell stories about the best and worst of humanity. So many times in the story the drama and horror were created by man’s greed and lust for power, or their ignorance and arrogance towards anyone or anything different from them. The writers could tackle any topic, no matter how taboo at the time by using far off planets and alien races as allegories for the current events. The Freeze is a look at how humanity would react to a massive do-over without the laws and social norms that keep them in check. So, the idea for the series came from a desire to put humanity in a survival situation and see what the characters would do … and tell the story that unfolds.”
Given that the story is about a world mostly frozen in time, as depicted in a medium that, by its nature, presents still images, I asked Sevy about the approach he took to define the states of motion versus the frozen states in The Freeze.
“That simple question has been in my brain since I started working on the series. The lack of motion in an object is defined by the motion of the objects around it (either other objects, characters, or the motion of the camera around the character). In comics, that presents a difficult challenge, because all images and objects are frozen and static. Especially in the first issue, we spend a lot of time on and around the frozen people, so every page I had to plan my shots in such a way that I could convey movement around them. This was often by planning my camera angles so that the frozen were shown to remain in the same place and movement. Occasionally, things like spilling coffee or crashed cars could achieve that effect too. Dan and I decided early on to give the frozen victims a color cue too to make them more recognizable. If a person is frozen, I don’t shade them, so they appear flat (from a color standpoint), and I give them a slightly blue tint. We didn’t want them to look like ice cubes, but needed a visual cue that would give the reader a subconscious understanding that they couldn’t move.”
Here are pencils, inks, tones, and colors for page 6 of The Freeze #1. First issue drops in December with FOC being on Monday. Tell your retailer you want scifi, survival thriller goodness from @danwickline @troypeteri @TopCow & me! pic.twitter.com/HnxIb8zvxK
— Phillip Sevy (@phillipsevy) November 9, 2018
The Freeze will be out in December.
It’s been a light few weeks for Top Cow, but what they’ve got on the shelves is still pretty good stuff.
Roberta Ingranata (artist), Caitlin Kittredge (writer)
September 26, 2018
“While Alex and an unlikely ally try to get inside N-GEN, Johnny’s mysterious employer, Alex must also deal with the fallout of Legion’s demise as a host of demons vie for supremacy in NYC.”
Flavio Dispenza (letterer), Zack Kaplan (writer), Troy Peteri (colorist), Gio Timpano (artist)
“The game of betrayals concludes as Solarity springs their trap on a bridge out of the city, forcing Bax, Cielo, her father, and the Scientist into a final confrontation over the sunlight immunity—all while a deadly sunrise approaches.”
Cyber Force #7
Matt Hawkins (writer), Bryan Hill (writer), Antonio Rojo (artist)
“Ripclaw and Stryker have put aside their differences … for now, but the Tech-Cartels have them both in their sights. Stryker and Ripclaw make a plan to free Columbia from their grip while Aphrodite and Velocity protect a brilliant doctor who’s wanted dead by the cartels … and has technological secrets of her own.”
Infinite Dark #2
Ryan Cady (writer), Andrea Mutti (artist) Troy Peteri (letterer), K. Michael Russell (colorist)
“Unrest on the Orpheus, an entity from beyond reality itself, and a therapy session gone horribly awry-Security Director Deva Karrell’s investigation turns up few clues but many fresh horrors.”
My friend recently attended the North Carolina Comic Con where she met Afua Richardson, which reminded me of one of my favourite Top Cow titles, Genius, written by Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman. The first volume of their 2014 series, “Siege,” begins the story of Destiny, a young woman who has to live with the reality of gang violence and police brutality in LA. She claws her way to the top of the gang wars in her neighbourhoods, then takes the battle to the cops. But there’s more to her plans than anyone on either side realizes.
Freeman and Bernardin went on to tell Destiny’s story in a second volume, “Cartel.” Check out my interview with them here.