When I attended the COMIKAZE Expo I was fortunate enough to field some questions with the always astonishing, Marc Silvestri.
We talked the direction of the TOP COW UNIVERSE and the IN-DEVELOPMENT flick following the exploits of THE DARKNESS.
If you feel ready to read what the Image Comics co-founder and industry legend had to say, then scroll on!
UTF: The first thing I want to ask you, with the current landscape of Top Cow, with The Darkness coming to an end, and Jackie reaching a very unhappy conclusion, where do you see the universe as a whole going forward?
Marc Silvestri: The important thing at Top Cow has always been, you know what, there’s other people doing certain things, let’s just not do that. Marvel has their mutants, and DC has their 52 different universes, somebody said they had 52 universes, and I was like, how do you deal with that? Our universe is based on two things, the supernatural and the technological.
So we’ve got the supernatural element, the fantasy element, and we’ve got sci-fi at its core, which are things that I personally grew up on. Our universe, now, has really been embracing that, we bring in Cyber Force, opposite, that’s technologically based. Obviously, we already have the supernatural part down, with Darkness and Witchblade.
Jackie’s gone through some stuff right now, he’s going through some stuff. It’s not been a pleasant journey for him, it’s never been a pleasant journey, but we think it’s a natural, what we want to do with the character, we think it’s a natural fit. Yeah, we’re going to kind of brutalize him a little bit, but it’s part of who he is, it’s part of his journey. You know what they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Now, in Jackie’s case, we’re actually going to kill him, but, also because he’s Jackie, it will make him stronger. I’m not going to go any further with that and spoil anything, but if you think about that for a minute, it makes sense for him. He is going to go down far enough where he actually can die, but because of the cursed power that he has, he’s going to come back, and what’s he going to come back as? We’re going to have some fun with that.
UTF: I do have question about the new Cyber Force. Is there a specific story line that you’re building up towards? Is there something that you have already pre-planned? Or are you just flying by the seat of your pants?
Marc Silvestri: I usually fly by the seat of my pants, sometimes I fly pretty high, I don’t think I really crash land. Cyber Force is really a labor of love for me, it’s unfinished business with stories I always wanted to tell, and there were just Cyber Force that we did wasn’t exactly the one that I wanted to tell, but today, I absolutely know what’s going on and where it’s going to go, and it’s all very relevant to what’s happening in the world. Everyone’s afraid, and they should be. There’s never been more paranoia than there has been now, no one trusts anyone, and that’s kind of what Cyber Force is about. It’s the fact that they’re going to lift the veil on what’s really going on, and is that something that’s good, or is that something that’s bad?
A few thing’s I’ve always been obsessed with, there’s a movie called They Live, which I thought was a great new concept, the fact that the things around you aren’t what you think they are, the same thing with The Matrix. Those were ideas that I’ve been playing with for years and years, about bringing Cyber Force back, it’s not what you think it is. Honestly, if we did know the truth, we couldn’t handle it. Not knowing is a big part of the Cyber Force theme, and it’s not a bad thing, because as much as we want to know what’s going on, if we knew we wouldn’t understand it, and we would just panic and be in a worse position. So we really trying to pose morality here, and Cyber Force, these are normal people that now, are normal as they can be, human beings that are cybernetically enhanced, and they’ve done things that maybe are questionable. They know the truth now, and what do they do with this truth?
The story lines are going to be them discovering that it’s not as black and white as just letting everyone know what’s going on, because if you do that, the whole house of cards that is the human race will fall apart. Now they have to pick and choose what they’re going to do, what they’re going to tell, what they’re going to stop, and what they’re going to, literally, let continue to happen, and sometimes, what they’re going to let happen, is not so good. They have to wrestle with that, they have to wrestle with those moral choices. We’re going to have a lot of fun with that. But it’s really about the human condition, and where we’re headed, and where we’re already are. The overriding sort of damage that is done to the series is the fact that yes, mankind is going to extinguish itself. It’s going to happen, and you can’t stop it, but how can we make it so that we’re going to survive? How are we going to make it so that the race survives the fall? A lot of stories to tell when you think about that.
UTF: I have enjoyed how it’s more or less connected to the new Aphrodite series, it really does feel like you’ve created two mini-universes in the same space. You have the cybernetic side being populated by Cyber Force and Aphrodite, and then you have Darkness and Witchblade on the other, along with Artifacts.
My next question would have to be, reaching back a few years, there was a comic book you guys were coming out with called Inferno: Hellbound. Are there any plans to possibly bring those characters back into the mix?
Marc Silvestri: I wish we could, we ran into kind of some legal issues with that book, and we kind of just went away. It was a great concept.
UTF: It was, it was, I enjoyed it tremendously.
Marc Silvestri: It was very simple, and everyone got it when they read it. I’d love to, someday, if we can make that happen. I know we’ve kind of been disrupted, but sometimes it’s just to let things go, but I would love to revisit that property someday. You never know.
UTF: I do have another question, I got into comics because when I was growing up I watched the TNT original movie for Witchblade. That was my first exposure to the property, and after it came on I flipped through my phonebook trying to find a local comic shop. I went over there and ended up buying Witchblade #46. So I was curious, as Top Cow grows, are there any forthcoming multimedia plans? I know you’ve talked in other interviews about a Darkness movie, potentially, and a Witchblade movie in the works. Any news on those?
Marc Silvestri: We are working on those actively right now. We’re partnered with Len Wiseman on The Darkness film. It’s over at New Regency, which is on the Fox lot. We’ve gotten one draft of the script and we’re working on that right now. It’s going to happen. Witchblade is in the Darkness film. Originally she was going to be in there as an easter egg for the fans, who would know: hey, that’s Sara Pezzini, that’s the Witchblade.
The more we went along with the story, and the great thing is, the studio supports this. Len loves this, which is great because Len loves The Darkness, and that’s what you want on your team. He knows more about The Darkness than I do. He’ll say, oh, remember when this happened in this issue, and I’ll go, ooooh, why yes, I do. He’s awesome, his enthusiasm is awesome. Obviously, he’s this talented director, so we’re really excited to have him In there.
As we were going along, it just made more and more sense storywise to have Witchblade in there. I’m not going to spoil too much more, but it makes perfect sense. First we were kind of worried, how do you, two origins, but it started to come together. It started to make more and more sense. We’re excited about that, that’s a big project that we’re working on right now.
We have TV things that are going on, other movie projects going on. Think Tank, we’re developing that as a feature film. Today it’s all about making things happen in comics, and then working for the extra gravy that could be in other media. But our first love is comics, and I’ll always tell people that I dip my toes in all forms of entertainment, from gaming to TV and film, and there is nothing that is more satisfying politically and more directly, without any filters between the creator and the end product, than comic books. We’ll always be a comic book publisher, we’ll always make comic books, and if we do something over and above that, you know the media games, whatever, great.
You’ll never see anything from us in other media that we would be embarrassed about, there’s just no point. People have been coming to us for fifteen years to make The Darkness movie and we’ve always said no, until now, because it’s the first time it’s made sense. It’s the first time our partners understand what The Darkness is, and with every property we do, if you don’t see it, it’s not because people weren’t trying to make it, it’s because we didn’t want them to make it. Why shoot ourselves in the foot, why shoot our franchises in the foot. What’s the point, we’re not helping ourselves, we’re not helping you guys, and we just won’t do it.
Right now things are looking really strong for The Darkness, we really have good direction. We love the games, obviously, and hopefully we can get another one out there. There’s always just great stuff happening, and it all starts with comics. We start there, and if we feel good about going further, we have the right partners, we’re all over that too.
UTF: I just have one more question for you, then I’ll get out of your hair and let you get back to the devoted followers that are waiting patiently for your awesome sketches. If you had a message to send to your fanbase right now about the future of Top Cow, what would you say?
Marc Silvestri: Stay calm and COW on.
UTF: There you go. Thank you very much Marc.
Marc Silvestri: Thanks for your support, we really appreciate it.
As we reach the ending of this conversation I want to take the time to once more thank Mr. Marc Silvestri for the chance to speak with him. It was an absolute pleasure and I know I can speak for the rest of the staff when I say: can’t wait to see what you and the talented people at Top Cow do next.
But what did you guys think of the interview? Sound off with your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!