iFanboy Video Podcast

iFanboy #114 – The New Top Cow

Show Notes

Historically a haven for style of substance comic books with a heavy emphasis on heaving bosoms and overly revealing costumes on the female characters, Top Cow Productions has garnered a bit of a reputation in the comic book world. As a result, the guys at iFanboy haven’t paid much attention to Top Cow’s comic books, save for Rising Stars and Midnight Nation from J. Michael Straczynski.

And then at a recent comic book convention, the publisher of Top Cow, Filip Sablik, challenged iFanboy to take a look at some of Top Cow’s comics and give them a fair shake. With a brand new direction for its flagship titles he felt confident that the iFanboys would like would they had to offer.

Challenge accepted!

The iFanboys took a look at the recent offerings from Witchblade, The Darkness, and the slate of books showcased in Top Cow’s unique Pilot Season program. What did they think?

Let’s find out!


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Doing the podcast is fun and all, but let's be honest, listening to the 2 of us talk to each other can get repetitive, so we look to you, the iFanboy listeners to participate in the podcast! "How can I get in on the fun?" you may ask yourself, well here's how:

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Please don't forget to leave your name and where you're writing from and each week, we'll pick the best e-mails to include on the podcast!


  1. Holy crap!

    Did you guys clone each other to get these episodes out now?

  2. Before anything else, I have to commend you for doing this. You are a great incentive for other comics fans! It’s nice to see anyone set aside preconcepts and approach things honestly. Also: Yay! Conor "got" Twilight Guardian. Hopefully he’ll review the series when it comes out. Please, please, please review the series when it comes out!!!

    Now: Gaah! Twilight Guardian predates Kick Ass! I have the mini comics to prove it! Also, Twilight Guardian really is realistic, contrary to Kick Ass which clearly has pretty much abandoned the whole "realistic" angle (that’s not a slight, just an observation). Twilight Guardian is actually very well researched into the RLSH (Real-Life Super-Hero http://www.worldsuperheroregistry.com/) scene/phenomenon and takes more of it’s cues from the "slice of life" genre than anything else. I’ve read most of what Troy has written, including "Tales of the Pathetic Club" in which Twilight Guardian makes it first appearance and I have been incredibly blown away by his writing. He is hnads-down, by a wide margin my favorite writer, ever. Granted, this one-shot, on first read does seem to "end". But there is a lot of story in this! It’s understated in the issue is what it is. I so hope this is successful! We totally need more Troy Hickman in comics. The art is really slick too.

    Damn I love this book! I’m gonna go read it again. For the ??th time.

  3. wait a sec, on a tuesday?  What’s happening??? Is this a perminint change?

  4. This being up made my night.  Just got back from a run, too wired to sleep yet.

  5. This was awesome I have been a fan of Topcow for years and despite having to ignore the cheesecake art on somethings they seem to be a think tank for some really original ideas. I can’t wait to see Genius keep going and really hope the Core goes on some how.

  6. I’ve been reading Top Cow titles, and picking up tpbs, since getting issue 1 of the new Darkness run (before it was re-numbered) and I’ve been very impressed with most of the things I’ve seen. Even if the titles I’ve tried haven’t been my type of comic, you can appreciate the quality and how they may appeal to others. 

    Witchblade is fantastic at the moment.

  7. On the video itself….I just cant read anything Top Cow.

    I dont want to upset Filip (he comments on this site reguarly) but after so many attempts of reading any of their titles. I’m just not interested. It’s not so much for the cheesecake, more on that later, but just for the writing in general. You guys did a great job trying to convince me to read Witchblade/Darkness yet again, but I have been fooled once before on how ‘different’ it is. They are just two uninteresting characters I could like less. Other stories like Madame Mirage or the Pilot Seasons arent the best (in my eyes) either. Plus, those Pilot Season issues you were talking about were put up on newsarama…..I didnt find any of them good….at all..

    But the cheesecake portion, you guys are right, there is a niche out there and the has helped the company. They can say all they want that they are trying to change their image a bit, but you showing that one cover proves to me they arent going to change that much. Stories like Madme Mirage has cheesecake all over the place, so where’s the change there? Finally, you might get a market with cheesecake art but you can also hurt yourself by being associated with stuff like that. I’m sure people are going to state cheesecake art doesnt hurt, but to me it can, and if the company itself cant completely get away from their old ways….they are stuck with those ideals forever.

    So sorry to Filip and the others, but I just dont see what’s so special about this company.

  8. This episode, combined w/ 11 o’clock comics talk, has made me decide that I’m going to pick up some Top Shelf stuff today @ the shop. Am I correct in thinking that I heard that there was a very inexpensive trade of Witchblade out there? Does any know about this?

  9. Thanks for the coverage, guys! I really do think that the Cow has branched out in some terrific ways in recent years, and the quality of material overall has probably never been higher.

    Thanks to J-man above for the kind words and historical perspective about Twilight Guardian (and yeah, I’m waiting for the day when Kick-Ass is referred to as the "scaled up TG"!)

     And thanks to the guys for murmuring my name when TG came up (I like the idea that it has to be said in whispered tones, like I’m Lovecraftian, which I am).

     As always, gang, love the podcast!

  10. Great show guys.

    One question though, will any of you be continuing with any of the comics mentioned in the show?

  11. @piscespaul There’s a tpb of Ron Marz’s first few issues out for $5/6. I think it’s called Witch Hunt. There is also Darkness Accursed for $4.99 which is a pretty recent story arc and is really good.

    @TNC sure some titles have ‘cheesecake’ but so do a lot of titles by other publishers (emma frost?).Top Cow are currently putting out titles from a variety of genres, Impaler is a fantastic horror tale with zero cheesecake.

  12. I’m still reading Darkness, and I think I’ll pick up Witchblade in chunks, either as several issues at a time, or possibly trades.  I’d read several of the pilot season books if they come out regularly.

  13. @Ilash: I’ve got the first DARKNESS trade and I’m going to be going on a WITCHBLADE trade hunt soon.

  14. @sandgrounder- Thanks


    Also going to track down TG at the LCS

  15. @sand: I understand they arent doing much cheesecake anymore, but that really isnt my problem.

    My problem is, is that I dont care for most of their stories in general. I picked up Madame Mirage only because of Dini and that still didnt keep my interest. So the cheesecake problem is like 1% of my overall problems with the company…

  16. I voted for Urban Myths and The Core.  I really really would love to see Urban Myths turned into an ongoing.  But either way, I’m excited about the ones that will, eventually, be produced as ongoings

    Great show guys.  I’ll admit that I didn’t care about Top Cow’s ongoing titles before and you actually made Witchblade and Darkness sound quite interesting.  

  17. @Jumping Jupiter: I completely agree. I was very excited to see what the iFanboys thought of our books precisely because they were skeptical of Top Cow. In my mind it makes the review even more valid (not that I don’t appreciate endorsements from our fans). Should we make the slogan for Twilight Guardian – "Kicking ass before Kickass"?

    @TheNextChampion: In the words of Boy George, "Why you want to hurt me?" Seriously though, we’re not everyone’s cup of tea and that’s okay. I do suspect that more people would like our books if they just gave them a shot. On the Madame Mirage front, the cheesecake aspect of the first couple of issues was specifically done for the reveal of who Mirage really was. On the related front of our covers, we release sexy covers as convention variants. There’s a percentage of the audience that digs a sexy cover and that’s cool. It makes sense from a business stand point. The regular covers aren’t cheesecake and in fact in many cases I think if you put our covers up against some of the ones from Marvel and DC you’ll find less cheesecake aspects on them. I’m a bit baised though;)

    @josh and @conor: I cannot think of a higher compliment than you guys continuing reading some of our titles. Thank you very much, guys.

    For anyone who wants to check out our titles, look at our website to sample complete issues for free or check out Witchblade Volume 1 TP by Ron Marz and Mike Choi for $4.99 or The Darkness Accursed Volume 1 TP by Phil Hester and Michael Broussard for $4.99. Both trades collect 6 full color issues for $5. Can’t beat that deal with a stick!


    Take care,

    Filip Sablik
    Publisher, Top Cow Productions
    Read two free issues of The Darkness at http://www.topcow.com/darkness 


  18. 11 O Clock Comics asnd now this means that i’m going to have to at least check out those two cheap trades of the darkness and Withblade. Podcasts work!


  19. I have read the first three of Ron Marz’s and can vouch for their quality, even if I do think the art was a wee bit too "traditional Top Cow-ish". They were simply good, solid paranormal cop comics. 

  20. I like the fact that Top Cow is trying to re-energize Witchblade and Darkness.  I think both titles have been a little down for a while and I think it is good to try a fresh start with these books.  Wish they would bring back the darklings from the early days of Darkness.  They infused a lot of fun and humor into the book.

  21. I’m liking this whole thing.

  22. I’ve always wondered about witchblade.  Maybe it was the boobs, or maybe it was the labia, but I’ve always wondered if it was good


    Great show guys.  I’ll put up some top cow now.

  23. I enjoyed the show. Pretty cool stuff, I think I’ll check out those cheap Darkness/Witchblade trades. And I will certainly pick up Genius and Twilight Guardian when they come out.

  24. " I will certainly pick up Genius and Twilight Guardian when they come out."  Woo hoo!

  25. Went back issue diving today and found The Core and Genius.  Really excited to read them.  Now I’ve gotta find Lady Pendragon and Twilight Gaurdian. 

  26. @filip: I dont wanna hurt ya baby….I wanna do you good….Okay sorry that got creepy there..

    Seriously though you guys are creating comics and clearly you are up there in popularity with indie groups. Clearly I am not the demographic whether you have cheesecake or are shying away from that. Although the Madme Mirage art still was cheesecake even after the reveal….still your a bigger man then some people, since a lot of Publishers wouldnt go on websites where the populous can tear you a new one. 🙂

    Maybe down the road I will try Witchblade….cause it definitely seems much different then what I have read. But we’ll have to agree to disagree man.

  27. Sangrounder already mentioned my series Impaler, which Top Cow also publishes. It’s about vampires destroying the world, and I promise that it’ll always remain "cheesecake free". 🙂

    If you’d like to read the first issue for free, it’s over at Newsarama: http://www.newsarama.com/php/multimedia/album.php?aid=26593

    Currently, there is a trade of the first arc out, along with issues # 1 and 2 of the new series.



  28. The Darkness actually looks like something I might read.  Good job boys, I may buy my first Top Cow book ever.


  29. Doesn’t the girl from Midnight Warrior look exactly like landrie from Friday Night Lights’ lesbian friend?


  31. @Conor  I do not have a good memory.  Also, my favorite outtake ever.  

  32. Problem. I got a free witchblade comic with my purchase at my shop  aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand… now I’m addicted.

    And the cover of Darkness is… well… beautiful…  I just have one thing to say… my wallet is NOT happy. =|

  33. Maybe I dont like ‘The Darkness’ because it isnt as awesome as the band called ‘The Darkness’? 🙂

  34. Had to create an account just to think you for doing a show on Top Cow.  The company has really impressed me in the last few years, and, unfortunately, it’s quite hard to convince anyone to give it a shot.  Witchblade, specifically, has become a must read for me.

    Got my fingers crossed for more Top Cow on future episodes.  Love the show.

  35. Hey, repping the Fan Girls here!  

    @TheInnKeeper Same Here!!!!  Fan of the show, but this Top Cow centric show actually gave me a voice!!! =D

    I just wanted to share how excited I was to see this show focus on Top Cow, even more excited that it covered First Born through Darkness and Witchblade. (Have you also read Broken Trinity Guys? Very important to the current plot)

    Though mainly a DC Girl out of sheer stubbornness alone sopmetimes, I’ve always been interested in Top Cow. (In middle school/high school I collected Tomb Raider because I was a fan of the game) 

     SO on the notion of their depiction of their female characters I have to say I enjoy most (not always all) the art of the female leads of Top Cow  (Lara Croft, Magdalena, Aphrodite IX, Witchblade) mostly because they are almost always strong women characters. I happen to like the femininity and the ownership of sexuality. Fan Service is fan service and it’s meant to be enjoyed but there’s also great characters and stories to go with the sexy images! Not like the Big 2 aren’t perpetrators of splashy girls (Power Girl, nuff said…) 

     Great Show! Keep em coming!!! =D  


  36. You have to admire Sablik’s class. I mean he basically got a huge publicity boost just by asking nicely. What a cool person!

  37. I know I’ve written these words a number of times on this site before, but: it amazes me that I can work for a comic book discussion site and spend essentially half my time online reading/talking about them, yet still there are countless books that I have literally never heard about.

    WilliamHarms, your book sounds great. Count me in.

  38. @josh @conor

    How come Top Cow books (and other smaller publishers) rarely have the covers shown on the site?

  39. @sandgrounder; There are a few reasons, most of them technical.  The simple answer is that the covers are updated manually and manpower is directed towards the more popular books.

  40. @conor, thanks, always wondered. And as a Top Cow fan, thanks for giving the books a try with an open mind.

  41. @Jimski: Awesome. I appreciate that.

  42. I never had much interest in The Darkness or Witchblade (though I did actual enjoy the TV show) but 5 bucks for a 6 issue trade may be too good to pass up. Also, if The Core is like Dune I hope it manages to come out somewhere if not at Top Cow.

  43. Gabe, assuming you meant Twilight Guardian, that’s a compliment, as FNL is one of my favorite shows!

  44. I got an issue of Witchblade free at my shop, and while I enjoyed the free issue, I wasn’t exactly hooked by it.  The art really wasn’t to my taste as I’m just not a big fan of the painted style.  As the guys mentioned though, I can definitely see the appeal to it all, and I’m always appreciative of companies like Top Cow giving readers other options.

    BTW, The Darkness for the 360/PS3 was an awesome, awesome game. 

  45. Daaaang. My biggest hangup with Top Cow has been the artists (…okay, and cheesecake. But I think the two are related). Does Jorge Lucas still do the art for the Darkness? I’d pick it up if he was still on the title.

  46. A big thanks to all of the listeners who are going to give the Witchblade and Darkness $4.99 trades a shot. I could not ask for anything more.

     @OttoBott: Yes, Jorge is still one of the regular artists on The Darkness. He drew issues #7-10, part of issue #75, and will be back with issue #79. Michael Broussard isn’t a slouch either;)

    @JumpingJupiter: Oh, there was no class involved. I basically followed the iFanboy guys around at various cons like a sad, lost puppy and kept muttering "I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darnit people like me." 

    @ThelnnKeeper & StardustDreamer: We need you guys and gals to be vocal. Let your fellow fans know how our books are really solid! Thanks for the support!

    @TNC: The Darkness are pretty awesome. The full body jump suits are glam-tastic.

    Take care,

    Filip Sablik
    Publisher, Top Cow Productions
    Read two free issues of The Darkness at http://www.topcow.com/darkness

  47. @filip: If you could somehow get a contract with the band ‘The Darkness’ and make a one shot of them meeting the character in The Darkness….I would pay that in a heart beat. Please make this happen!

  48. @filip – Thanks for the info. After I posted that flipped through a few previews of Michael Broussard’s work and realized he’s pretty killer too. If those guys remain on rotation, I’ll definitely give Darkness a try.

    Thanks for being so accomodating with the info — as soon as I read your annoucement about keeping prices frozen, I really wanted to vote with my dollars torwards you guys, but wasn’t sure where I was going to start.

  49. Question: Which is best read first? The cheap Volume 1’s of Darkness and Witchblade or First Born?

  50. First Born.

  51. @miyamotofreak. You can read the entire 1st issue of First Born on the Top Cow website, and previews of issues 2 and 3.

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