|"Ripclaw: Pilot Season" #1 on sale August 15|
Levin said the reality of a monthly publishing schedule precludes ongoing titles for all of the Top Cow characters at once, and that Pilot Season grew out of the desire to keep some of those largely unseen characters in the public eye until it is once again their time to shine. "We wanted to make sure it wasn't years between appearances for characters we believed in, and felt that doing one-shots more often would give them a chance to have some screen time while still sticking to our core publishing strategy of quality over quantity," Levin told CBR News.
|"Ripclaw: Pilot Season" #1, page 3|
Levin doesn't see putting so much power in the hands of fans as a risk. "In many ways, the fans are always determining our future," Levin explained. "If they stop buying a book, it becomes harder and harder to justify keeping it on the shelf. Likewise, if they boost the sales on a low-selling title, we're more likely to keep it going. Putting the power directly in their hands hopefully gives us a more accurate account of what they really want. We're not asking the fans to choose the lesser of six evils. We're putting quality books out there and saying, 'Let us know what you're into. There's more where that came from.'"
|"Ripclaw: Pilot Season" #1, page 4|
In the past year, fans have mounted massive campaigns to save their favorite TV series from cancellation. In the case of the CBS drama "Jericho," fans mailed over 40,000 pounds of nuts to the network and earned the series a 7-episode reprieve. Levin is hoping pilot season will invoke the same level of fan response. "Personally, I'm hoping that one of the books that does not win Pilot Season will inspire a 'Jericho'/'Veronica Mars'-like fan campaign where people end up sending food en masse to the studio," Levin said. "I've worked with each writer to come up with a food tie-in for each book, that way there aren't any surprises."
|"Ripclaw: Pilot Season" #1, page 5|
That said, the two-series limit is not a hard-and-fast rule. "Fans always determine what we publish," Levin said. "If they really want something, we want to help them get it. If they want more Top Cow books, that's not a problem." If three or more of the Pilot Season characters receive a groundswell of support, Levin said they'll simply publish all of them with "Because you demanded it!" on every cover.
Jason Aaron first became involved with Pilot Season when Levin approached the writer about doing a one-shot for Top Cow. "I think Ripclaw was the first name I threw out," Aaron told CBR News. "I can't say I had a deep affection for any of the characters, but Ripclaw was the one I felt I could do the best job with. He's basically a Native American Wolverine. And I can work with that."
|"Ripclaw: Pilot Season" #1, pages 6 and 7|
Aaron says the Ripclaw Pilot issue is a stand-alone story, but that it teases other storylines. "Ripclaw is basically a drifter now," Aaron said. "A drifter who's haunted by different spirits and must travel around the world, setting things right for them. As you might expect, that usually involves him having to kill lots and lots of people."
|Exclusive:"Ripclaw: Pilot Season" #1, page 10 and character sketch|
Rob Levin emphasized that Pilot Season is far from a marketing gimmick. "This is a serious effort to tell good stories, with good teams, and shine the spotlight on that," Levin said. "We've created a number of great titles and characters. Plenty of people have never tried any of the books that have previously featured any of the characters. This is a chance to start from the ground up, and for the fans to let us know what they like."
"Ripclaw: Pilot Season" #1 hits stands next week, and look for the other six one-shots to be published in the coming months.
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