For the last few years, around the end of July, I write a valentine to the world of comics, due to the annual cultural event that is Comic-Con. This year, instead of writing about the events of the Con, I want to write about a company, that is, in large part, responsible for bringing that comic side out of me: Top Cow Comics.
Let me back up a bit here. I grew up around comics. My older bro was into them, so from an early age, I was reading them…or at least trying to. As older brothers often do, he wasn’t into sharing (this would also periodically extend into his Star Wars and G.I. Joe action figures). The first comic I seriously wanted to read, but couldn’t (thanks to big bro) was “The Wedding!” issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. I had to go get my own copy at Thrifty’s (in which I traded my ice cream money for a comic). I would read comics here and there through my teens, but it wasn’t until my mid-20s that I got back into comics in a real way.
Fast forward to late 1996, and my boyfriend at the time was very into Lady Death trading cards. Since my older brother used to sell comic books, he suggested that I direct Jeff to Frank and Son’s, where you could get collectables at cheaper prices than in retail stores and have access to wider selection of material. I ended up tagging along one Wednesday night and immediately gravitated to the comics, since I was of the mind that if I was going to invest in popular art, it was going to be in the comic vein, not the card vein (I’d rather have a story to go with the art). Back then, seeing a girl in a comic shop, much less a comic warehouse wasn’t as commonplace as it is today, so I quickly made friends with a few vendors. They had plenty of suggestions for more female-centric comics, such as Wonder Woman and the like, but I’m no ordinary female reader, and immediately gravitated towards The Darkness and Witchblade. Why? Two people: Marc Silvestri and Michael Turner. Their artwork was hypnotic. I literally couldn’t look away from the books when I saw them on display. I started reading them and fell in love with Jackie Estacado, a former hitman for the mafia, quite possibly a sex addict and oozed sarcasm; and Sara Pezzini, a NYPD detective who is drawn as a stunning comic heroine (you know what I’m talking about), who wasn’t afraid to kick ass and ask questions later (if at all). F*$@ yeah, count me in for that!
After getting hooked on The Darkness and Witchblade, I quickly started to collect variant covers, #0 and #1/2 issues, as well as inevitably being picky over the books that were pulled for me. Were they in mint condition, or as close to it as humanly possible? Oh, the joys of collecting comics…once you start on the collecting path, it quickly gets out of hand! I also started reading a hefty blend of Top Cow and Image books, including, Ascension, The Tenth, Astro City, Danger Girl, Kabuki, Gen 13, the odd issue of Wildcats and Stormwatch and eventually Fathom.
A writer by nature, my return to the comic world also inspired my first attempt at writing a comic. The story centered around a female heroine, who is the descendent of a WWII Nazi gene project gone awry. Of course, she’s not aware of this and slowly discovers her powers over the course of mandated psychotherapy visits. Work on this project stopped after my creative partner and I parted ways, but it was fun writing it over the course of a summer.
In the Fall of 1999, I left my native LA to attend grad school, and since it was impossible to get to Frank and Son’s on a weekly basis, the comic collecting slowed for me. I would still manage to find copies of the books that I was quite attached to, and even returned to Marvel and DC from time to time, but it was never quite the same as those two years of heavy, heady comic consumption. Regardless of the contents of my pull list today, Top Cow and Image will always hold a very special place in my geek heart, as it placed me quite solidly back into the world of comics, which I had abandoned for over a decade and a half.
Many thanks to Marc Silvestri, the late, incredible Michael Turner and everyone else at Top Cow and Image for that gift.
Until next week (and my next obsession)!
Layout by: Michelle
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