Top Cow Productions put the power back in the hands of the readers by letting them vote on six one-shot “pilot” issue comics through the publisher’s Pilot Season MySpace page. Each issue involved in the competition would be a stand alone story, with plot seeds for further issues if need be, and the title or titles with the most votes would become an ongoing however, most of these would eventually be mini-series only and suffer from scheduling conflicts. The format of the initiative has changed since its inception, evolving with each year, however the voting process has been constant.
- 2007 Season (Nominees & Winners)
- 2008 Season (Nominees & Winners)
- 2009 Season (Nominees)
- 2010 Season (Nominees & Winner)
- 2011 Season (Nominees & Winner)
- Collected Editions
In 2007 the Pilot Season consisted of six planned titles based on established Top Cow characters that had potential to star in their own series.
Pilot Season 2007 nominees:
Aphrodite IX was pulled from schedule and never released under the Pilot Season banner. It was determined in the final stages of production that it did not fit the feel of the other issues and would be released at a later date. Ripclaw, Cyblade, and Velocity are spin-offs of Marc Silvestri’s popular series, Cyber Force. The Angelus is a concept that originated in The Darkness, another Silvestri creation, while Necromancer had appeared in a previous mini-series from Top Cow in 2005. All the characters were established and made up a connected, shared world, whereas Aphrodite IX was set in the future.
The voting process was well received, exceeding four million votes over the course of one month (from December until January). Readers were permitted, and encouraged, to vote as many times as they wanted.
Pilot Season 2007 winners:
Cyblade and Velocity tied for first place, and both titles were slated for an ongoing series in 2008. However, only Cyblade was released on schedule. After suffering many delays, Velocity writer Casey resumed work again, this time with artist ChrisCross relieving Maguire. The title hit another impasse when ChrisCross resigned from the project in December 2008 due to “unforeseen differences”; the title was officially cancelled in February 2009. Casey later attributed the delay and cancellation to Top Cow’s poor management, citing mass dismissal of Top Cow personnel, including editorial staff. Velocity was finally re-launched in 2010 with a new creative team, despite being published under the Pilot Season banner. The new series is written by Ron Marz and Kenneth Rocafortproviding art.
This season saw a change in that all the entrants were original characters, with only two having a publication history before Pilot Season.
Pilot Season 2008 nominees:
This season's entries consisted of four original and two already existing properties, Lady Pendragon and Twilight Guardian.
The voting period this season lasted from August to September 2008, and allowing individual computers to vote only once per a day. Twilight Guardian won with nearly 30% of the vote. Top Cow VP of Marketing and Sales, Mel Caylo stated that some titles from the season could still be slated for future projects. Alibi earned the least amount of votes, yet had been optioned for a feature film by Mandeville Films.
Pilot Season 2008 winners:
Another change was made to the competition in that all the titles listed below were co-developed by Robert Kirkman and Marc Silvestri. All series would be written by Kirkman and all regular covers drawn by Silvestri.
Pilot Season 2009 nominees:
Murderer was the first title released in December 2009, the rest sporadically throughout 2010, with the exception of Hardcore that was still due by the end of 2010 and was eventually be released in 2012.
There is no information about the voting process and the final results of the 2009 pilot season and none of these series has been picked up (as of 2016).
Top Cow released a special one-shot, Pilot Season: Declassified, with short previews, top secret design sketches, and other extras for this season.
Top Cow made a beneficial change to the initiative this year by having separate creative teams compete. Unlike previous seasons and after the scheduling disaster in 2009, pilot issues were released every week over the course of five weeks between September and October 2010. This allowed the voting process to be completed by November.
Pilot Season 2010 nominees:
Pilot Season 2010 winner:
39 Minutes was announced as the winner this year however, it has yet to be continued (as of 2016).
With eight one-shots the biggest Pilot Season thus far.
Pilot Season 2011 nominees:
In 2011 more than one million readers voted and Top Cow announced The Beauty as the winner; with Theory of Everything being a strong runner-up. Unfortunately at the time, the creative team of The Beauty had been involved with other projects and time passed until August 2015 when the series was finally published, then by Image Comics, and is still running as of 2016.
Pilot Season 2011 winner:
|Column Head||Column Head||Column Head||Column Head|
|The Beauty #1-current||Jason A. Hurley||Jeremy Haun||2015-running|
The Pilot Season 2011 was the last Pilot Season.
- Pilot Season 2008 (Collects the 2007 Pilot Season titles.)
- Pilot Season: Declassified (Previews and Extras for the 2009 Season)
- Pilot Season: Declassified 2010 (Exclusive Previews)
- Pilot Season: Declassified 2011 (Exclusive Previews plus Early Looks to upcoming series of previous winners 39 Minutes & Genius)
- Pilot Season 2012 (Collects the 2011 Pilot Season titles.)
Most of the Pilot Season one-shots are available on Comixology for $1.99 or less.