While attending this year’s Comic-Con International I was able to sit down with the always outstanding COO of Top Cow Productions, Inc., Matt Hawkins.

UTF: We’re near the end of 2014. What’s coming around the bend for Top Cow?

Matt Hawkins: I think a lot of what we’ve done in Aphrodite IX and Cyber Force has sort of built up to where we are now. And IXth Generation sort of culminates into what the future of this Rebirth universe will look like. And I don’t think people necessarily saw that we were going to connect the sort of technological side with the artifacts. And I think some of the long time fans are going to dig what we’re doing, hopefully. We picked up a lot of new followers who were just reading Aphrodite and Cyber Force, because of the kickstarter, and they never read Witchblade,  never read The Darkness. And I’ve talked to some of them and they’re just curious now. So, it’s kind of been an in-run to try and get readers and new readers into the projects.

Cyber Force 4_Cover Widescreen

And so IXth Generation and Witchblade , which is obviously continuing because Ron Marz and Laura Braga are doing a great job building up to the 20th anniversary of that property. October 2015 will be 20 years and we’ve been talking to Brian Haberlin and David Wohl and some of the original creators of Witchblade to come back and possibly do some stuff for fun. We’re excited about Witchblade and at some point, we’re going to do something with The Darkness. In fact, Darkness Falls, will now take place in Witchblade #180, #181 and David Hine wrote these issues that were originally going to be released in a self contained graphic novel that explained how Jackie Estacado died.

Preview Art from DARKNESS FALLS Widescreen

UTF: That’s a point of interest, because I know fans want to understand how Sara Pezzini ended up holding his severed head.

Editor’s Note: See Witchblade #170 for all the gory details.

My next question would be, beyond the main Top Cow Universe you have Minotaur Press and other creative initiatives. Is there anything exciting coming down the line?

Matt Hawkins: In September, we have a book called, Chronicles of Hate, which is a 120 page original graphic novel. It’s a hardcover by a British painter-writer named Adrian Smith. And it’s the most un-effing-believable thing I’ve seen in decades. The guy is like a cross between Frank Frazettaand some of the best illustrators you’ve ever seen. He’s done this amazing job so much so that this book doesn’t have a lot of text in it but I still spent hours looking at it. I’m not a big art guy but I would just sit here and stare at these panels and I was mesmerized by them. So, we put together a deal. We’re putting it out. Also, in September, we’re launching a new volume of A Voice in the Dark by Larime Taylor.

The Chronicles of Hate Widescreen

I have a new book I’m doing called, Control the Clock, with Colleen Doran which is in sort of my Wild Fire or Think Tank vain. It’s a conspiracy eugenics thriller about how a group of people use cancer to wipe out half the world. Which is always fun stuff.

There’s all kinds of things we’re working on. We’re constantly trying to figure some things out. Marc Silvestri, beyond Rise of the Magi, he’s got a project called, Millennium City, which is sort of a sequel to Cyber Force that he wants to do eventually. I don’t think we’ll see that probably till 2017 given his schedule. But he is working on it and I think it’s very cool.

Rise of the Magi Artwork Widescreen

UTF: Going beyond that, I want to talk about Talent Hunt. Do you have any words of advice for the fans / creators that might be applying this year?

Matt Hawkins: I’ve said it every time, and stated it in the rules, write a self contained story. There’s so many people that want to pen the beginning of a long arc and I think psychology is “I’m going to write this starting point. They’re going to like it so much, they’re going to hire me to write a 100 books in a row!” And the reality is, no, we’re not.We’re looking for material that has a very definitive beginning, middle and end. Because it’s a one-shot.

Artifacts 37_Cover Widescreen

The other thing I see is people want to try to impress you, which I understand, but at the same time don’t do sweeping continuity changes. If you’re doing stuff like you’re blowing up New York City in your story, chances are we may not use it because we’re using New York City for something else. And this year, it’s Aphrodite and Cyber Force. Last couple seasons, we got some complaints because people were like, “there’s so much research material to go through.” We’ve shed that.It’s much easier to find resources because it’s only two to three titles.

And we’re going to have less winners this year. It’s probably going to be four total. Maybe two winners and two runners up. I don’t know yet but we’re announcing the rules on September 1st.

UTF: Sounds great. Do you have any specific areas of the Top Cow Universe that you want to explore?

Matt Hawkins: For me, I don’t really think of the Top Cow Universe titles. Writing supernatural stuff is really not my thing

I don’t sit back and say, “Oh, I have this great Angelus arc in my head.” I’ve always liked the character and I think that there’s something that really can be done with her that’s interesting and compelling. I’ve always liked The Magdalena because I’m sort of a semi-atheist agnostic but I love religion. It fascinates me. Ron Marz is actually doing a new arc with her but we’re always open to things. I get pitches all the time and the better ones are quick. Either one, two, three or four issues, that’s it.

Magdalena vol.2 3_Cover Widescreen

For me, personally, there’s a million original ideas that I have in my head. I have this one for Specters, sort of an underworld full of ghosts. An alternate dimension based in particle physics. I love that shit. The Control the Clock, one I just told you about, I have another project called, Postal, that I don’t have time to write, that Bryan Hill ‘s going to take on. It’s basically about WITSEC from criminals. You have somewhere in Wyoming, this small town is converted into a no WiFi, no credit card, no external anything. And what they do is they bring criminals there to basically give them a new life.

They have plastic surgeons there that change their appearance. They give them new identities to reinsert them into society one or two years later but they have weird rules. Sort of this weird Northern Exposure or Longmire kind of stuff. I know I don’t have time to write that good stuff. I’ve always wanted to do a heist thing. I love The Town. I love the movie Heat but banks are just fodder. I want to do something else. I thought, “What would be more fun than to rob one of those mega churches?”

Think Tank 4_Preview Cover Widescreen

UTF: Well that sound great. My final question would be, do you have any kind of message you want to give fans and new readers alike as they potentially enter 2015 with Top Cow books on their pull-list?

Matt Hawkins: The one thing I would say is if you want to see these books continue you have to vote with your dollar. People always say, “Oh I want more Think Tank.” It’s not that I don’t want to do more Think Tank, it just needs to sell better. Recommend independent titles that you like to friends, family and co-workers and that’s how they’ll survive. I would say if you love a property, it doesn’t matter if it’s ours or someone else’s, you need to let the world know because otherwise these things go away.

I want to take the time to thank Mr. Matt Hawkins for chatting with me. It was a great pleasure to talk Top Cow with him and to glimpse all the awesome things coming from their company. I have one message for all of you: be sure to watch their brand as 2015 quickly approaches.

So what did you think of the interview my fellow fanboys and fangirls?

Sound off with your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!