Top Cow Announce New Talent Contest - With A Little Gender Weighting
Tom Huxley reports from London Super Comic Con
Writer/editor Matt Hawkins convened a panel with writers David Hine and Ron Marz at the London Super Comic Convention on Saturday to commemorate twenty years of Top Cow.
It was announced that Top Cow will be running another talent contest, to be launched at SDCC, and this time entrants to the writing category can pitch either a "Tales of the Darkness" story or a "Tales from the Witchblade" story, featuring a Witchblade from either the past or the future. Witchblade 92 is the key issue to refer to for the "Tales of the Witchblade" category.
If you've worked at Marvel or DC in the past ten years, you are not eligible, but if you're female you stand a better chance than before as this year it's guaranteed that at least one of the winners will be a woman. Top Cow editor Matt Hawkins advises creators to start doing your research now, you've a little more time to think about it as full details of the rules will be announced at SDCC. (At this point, David Hine, tongue in cheek, remarked: "Ron and I completely disapprove of the talent search - there's too many of us in the field as it is")
Regency is developing the Darkness into a film - Hawkins claims it has a better shot than previous attempts because of the team attached. He also revealed that the Witchblade TV series of some years ago was cancelled because the lead actress was an alcoholic and went into rehab - it was and remains the highest rated TV series to be cancelled.
In comparing Top Cow's longevity to other publishers that have come and gone in the meantime, Ron Marz had a few things to say on Crossgen. "They had a big pile of money, and it became a small pile of money in a matter of years." He went on to claim that a common saying goes, "the fastest way to lose money in comics is to start with a lot of money."
Marz then told an illustrative story about how for the second year of Crossgen they had a big lavish holiday party, semi-formal, and the boss (we presume he's referring to Marc Alessi) was supposed give a speech bigging up the next year of Crossgen, but unfortunately it was an open bar and he got "shitfaced" after just half an hour.
So he gave the speech in this condition, and at one point slurred out the words "I came into this with a lot of money". George Perez then remarked privately to Marz, "we'll fix that in a hurry."
Hawkins diagnosed the company's rapid expansion as the nail in the coffin of Alessi's company; "when crossgen announced they were expanding to a fourteen book line, I knew they were done." He went on to put Top Cow's longevity down to Silvestri's presence as an artist, as a leader, with his ability to recruit new talent.
Dale Keown's legendary 30 issue run on The Pitt has never been collected - so Top Cow is in now the process of collecting them, it was announced, although apparently getting the material out of outdated DAT files has been a "pain in the ass"...
Marco Turini is taking over the artwork on Artifacts with issue 26. Marc Silvestri apparently called up Hawkins about him in the middle of the night to say, "I found this guy on Facebook, you have to give him work".
And finally in response to a question on Kickstarter, Hawkins drew an analogy to demonstrate the risks involved in their ultimately successful Cyber Force campaign - of which he credited a lot of its success to the type of video they made to promote it. "If an unknown creator had done a Kickstarter that failed, nobody would care. If we'd done a Kickstarter and it failed, it would be all over Bleeding Cool with them going, 'ha ha!'"
Rich adds... for shame... any laughter would never have been so... openly stated.
I always said that was CrossGen's problem, they expanded to quick after the initial success, because of Alessi's wish to challenge DC and Marvel.
It's a recurring theme with smaller publishers with ambitions. It was the same with DDP, before adding new books, make sure all the books you have already are turning a profit and that you don't overexert yourself financially.
Seems like an easy thing to do, but probably isn't.
As for the talent search, I welcome the decision to guarantee a place for a female creator, I think a women's quota in comics wouldn't be bad thing, as I feel female creators still don't get a fair chance most of the time.
Going in with a mindset to "challenge DC and Marvel" is wrongheaded to start out with. Too many businesses get started with no greater goal than to replace an existing business, which (if it works) doesn't benefit anyone but the owner of the new business. In the case of comics publishing that's even more shortsighted, because there's such a huge untapped audience out there ... you can completely ignore Marvel and DC and just do something different, and stand a good chance of success if you do it well. To be fair, that's sort of what CrossGen did by avoiding the superhero genre, but they still based it all on the same old "universe-building" model that Marvel and DC are (to this day) limiting themselves with.
I applaud their intentions in reserving a slot among the winners for a woman, but I'm not sure that's the best way to go about it. No matter how good her story is, in the public's mind she'll have "because she's a woman" as the reason she won.
The best way to do "affirmative action" in hiring is to reach out to (in this case) women to apply, advertise that you want women to apply, and give additional consideration to the women who do apply... but make the final decision based on who can do the job best. Set-asides just reinforce the idea that women can't compete on their own merits.