By Abdulkareem Baba Aminu
With Witchblade #185 done and dusted, Bleeding Cool caught up with Top Cow's President/Chief Operating Officer Matt Hawkins, who wrote the final 16 pages of the landmark issue. Herewith, are excerpts:
Abdulkareem Baba Aminu: Why do you think Witchblade (Sara Pezzini to be precise) has endured all these years, becoming an icon?
Matt Hawkins:We always pitched it, initially, as 'NYPD Blues meets the X-Files'. When it came out there wasn't as much supernatural stuff as there is now, it went on to fill a niche. Despite the early "bad girl" association we always had a strong female readership for the title. Sara was always in control, strong and didn't need anyone else to "save" her.
ABA: What exactly do you mean by "bad girl association"?
MH: In the mid 90s, there were a series of female lead characters that all launched and the industry dubbed it a "bad girl" fad. I never felt the inclusion of Witchblade was completely fair, but it was a sign of the time.
ABA: Why was the decision taken to rest Witchblade, even with the wide appeal the comic and characters within have?
MH:All good things come to an end. We tried for years to get people to overlook some of the earlier "bad girl" associations with the release of the title in the mid 90's. We ultimately felt the title needed a break. We did the same thing with The Darkness.
ABA: How did you get readers overlook the 'bad girl associations'?
MH: We instructed our creative people to not have the character over-sexualized.
ABA: What's going to happen to oft-mentioned live-action projects starring Sara Pezzini/Witchblade?
MH:We're still working on them. The Witchblade anime did not feature Sara Pezzini. The great thing about this franchise is it's open for a lot of different female leads to have it.
ABA: So Switch may not be the only non-Sara Witchblade-centric series we'll be seeing soon?
MH: To soon to say, but it is always a possibility.
MH:It's not a replacement of any kind. Sejic had been working on Switch for years before we ever decided to end the regular Witchblade series. It's always been kind of an Elseworlds or Ultimate type storyline. It has a lot of characters from the Top Cow Universe and other creator-owned characters he's gotten permission to include.
ABA: Characters such as…
MH: You'd have to ask Sejic. I've seen Dragon Prince (Ron Marz), Lady Pendragon, Savage Dragon and a few others.
ABA: Will fans one day see a return to the Sara Pezzini Witchblade character or is this, uh, switch permanent?
MH: Never say never. But it's far more likely that the Witchblade, if returning, would do so with a different female lead and be some complete reimagining, kind of like what Brandon Graham did with Rob Liefeld's Prophet.
ABA: So, is that more of a 'when' than an 'if'?
MH: Nope. No plans to do anything.
ABA: What are you going to miss most about Witchblade?
MH:I'll miss the discussions about what we should do with the story. I always enjoy breaking overall story arcs with writers.
ABA: Let's go a little further back: What's your 'breaking into comics' story?
MH:I met Rob Liefeld at the opening of Mile High Comics in April of 1993 in Anaheim, CA and asked him for a job. He thought I had spunk and hired me on to help with marketing and retailer relations. I sort of worked my way into editorial and started writing comics after that.
ABA: Your book, Think Tank, is a hit. Just how much of David Loren, the young protagonist, is actually autobiographical?
MH:The snarky attitude, that's about it. I've put on here that Loren's IQ is like 205. I think I was tested as a kid at like 144, or something like that, so he's got me in the smarts department. I'm able to fake it with the information available on the internet. He talks a bit like I do, with my cadence.
ABA: Speaking of Think Tank, there's a rumor about a live-action project doing the rounds…
MH:Not yet. We were developing it as a feature for a year and that just got kicked back to us, so we're looking to take it out now and try to set it up as TV.
ABA: How many irons does Top Cow have in the Hollywood fire?
MH:We have 18 different projects in various stages of development (which means nothing, really) but we have three that have been bought and hopefully, with a good script coming in, will get made.
Abdulkareem Baba Aminu is a newspaper editor, award-winning journalist and comic book creator based in Nigeria. He has reviewed comics, novels, movies and music for a variety of platforms and is currently the Editor of the Saturday edition of the Daily Trust, one of the most influential newspapers in his country. You can follow him on Twitter: @KareemReal