I liked the idea of Pilot Season last year. It's a good way for Top Cow to take a chance to see what people want without commiting to a mini-series that could flop. It also gives readers more of a say into what will come out. With American Idol and such, people enjoying voting. There were some great contenders last year. That was my only problem, only two could win. I almost feel bad for the other characters. Will we ever find out what would've happened next?
So what do we have to look forward to this year? Read on...
PILOT SEASON 2008
Six comic books spanning different genres will vie to be one of two titles added to the 2009 publishing schedule.
Top Cow Productions, Inc. announced today that the first two of six Pilot Season 2008 books will kick off in May with Lady Pendragon and Twilight Guardian.
Pilot Season is an annual initiative Top Cow began in 2007 that borrows its concept from the television industry: Six “pilots” are submitted for consideration to be “picked up for a season,” except instead of TV executives deciding their fates, it’s the fans who decide by voting online. Last year’s top two vote getters, Cyblade and Velocity, will debut with new series later this year. Over four million votes were cast last year through a partnership with MySpace Comics.
While 2007’s books were based on existing Top Cow characters that didn’t have their own titles at the time, this year’s batch will feature four completely original properties and two that had previous lives elsewhere. These latter two are Lady Pendragon and Twilight Guardian.
Created by current Top Cow President Matt Hawkins, Lady Pendragon first debuted in 1996 and had successful series runs published by Image from 1998-2000. The writer decided to bring her back because “Pilot Season is one of the cooler editorial things we’ve ever done at Top Cow, so I’m digging just being a part of it,” said Hawkins. But just because the president of the company is participating doesn’t mean there’s a fix involved, he assured. “I’d prefer to lose, actually,” Hawkins pointed out, “so don’t vote for me!”
Pilot Season: Lady Pendragon #1 is the story of a direct descendant of King Arthur and Lady Guinevere who revives magic in the modern-day world, but is conflicted when she discovers her doing so may have done more harm than good. Filled with nods to Arthurian legend and fantastic battle scenes with dragons, the issue is drawn by Singapore-based artist Eru of Imaginary Friends Studios and features a beautifully painted cover by Star Wars and Indiana Jones movie poster artist Drew Struzan.
Also launching in May is Pilot Season: Twilight Guardian #1, a property created by Eisner nominee Troy Hickman (Common Grounds). Reza, also of Imaginary Friends Studios, will handle interior art while Hendry Prasetyo provides the cover.
“Twilight Guardian is about an average woman with a particular kind of OCD which drives her to patrol a nine-block area in her neighborhood every night, and about the other ‘night people’ and situations she encounters because of it,” Hickman described of the book, which was first published as a mini-comic. “It’s a premise that allows me to further muddy that line between superheroics and slice-of-life that has been the hallmark of my work.”
Unlike Hawkins, Hickman is gunning to be one of the top two vote getters. “We often hear people saying they want to see new kinds of characters and stories in comics,” said Hickman. “If that’s true, I’d like to think they’d gravitate to Twilight Guardian, which isn’t really like anything else on the ’stands, as far as I know.
“Y’know, when I told my editor Rob Levin that I was scared about my competition in this year’s Pilot Season, he said, ‘You’ve got humanity going for you,’” Hickman continued. “It’s something I strive for in all my stories, that basic humanity that connects with the reader. It was at the core of my Common Grounds stuff, but it may be stronger in Twilight Guardian than in anything else I’ve done so far. I think folks will dig it.”
The remaining Pilot Season books will be released in June and July, with voting to open at the beginning of August. They include:
ALIBI (June) – Writer Joshua Hale Fialkov (a Pilot Season 2007 winner with Cyblade) and artist Jeremy Haun (Civil War: Iron Man/Captain America) tell the story of a hitman who always has the perfect alibi whenever he’s accused of a high-profile assassination, but now someone knows his secret.
GENIUS (June) – From Entertainment Weekly senior editor Marc Bernardin and “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” producer Adam Freeman (writing partners who’ve previously worked on The Highwaymen and Monster Attack Network) comes a story about an exceptionally clever 17-year-old who unites the gangs in her neighborhood to wage war against the Los Angeles Police Department. Fresh newcomer Afua Richardson (Half Dead) provides art.
THE CORE (July) – Critically acclaimed writer Jonathan Hickman (Pax Romana) and Madame Mirage artist Kenneth Rocafort create a unique sci-fi tale about the first human appointed to an interplanetary Special Forces unit, and the trials he must endure to earn the respect of his extraterrestrial teammates.
URBAN MYTHS (July) – Fan-favorite writer Jay Faerber (Dynamo 5) teams with up-and-coming artist Jorge Molina (Superman/Batman Annual) to craft a story about a world where the Greek gods still meddle in the lives of men, and the best private investigator out there happens to be the mask-wearing son of Medusa.
Troy Hickman acknowledged that Pilot Season 2008 is a tough field. “I’m terrified,” he said. “Have you seen this list of creators? These are some of the hottest folks in comics today…er, not that I find them attractive. My main strategy is to hope people confuse me with Jonathan Hickman so I can tap into his massive fan base—and if you’ve ever had someone tap into your massive fan base, you know how painful it can be.”
“Oh, I’m pretty resolute that I’ll lose,” said Hawkins. “This is some solid competition! I’ve actually tweaked my story to make sure it was completely self-contained so that when these other titans trounce me, I can at least have a nice story out there.”
Creators on each Pilot Season book are free to run whatever campaign they’d like to drum up votes for their title.
“It’s nice to have the Pilot Season voting coincide with the presidential election,” observed Hickman. “I plan to run a clean campaign, so I won’t be attacking my opponents. People might be interested, though in Matt Hawkins’ connection to certain foreign governments, or Jay Faerber’s plan to tax widows and orphans.”
Additional details on the other four series will be released in the coming weeks, as will details on when and how the Pilot Season 2008 polls will open.