Laughter could be heard repeatedly from Room 6A in the San Diego Convention Center. No, a stand up comic wasn't entertaining the Comic-Con International crowd: Top Cow Productions was presenting a panel on their offerings for the remainder of the year. The panel focused on "Freshmen" a new six issues co-created by Hugh Sterbakov and Seth Green, which follows the misadventures of a group of college freshmen given powers that aren't exactly super. Green and Sterbakov were on hand to offer insight into their hilarious new series.
Top Cow Editor-in-Chief Jim McLauchlin opened the panel by introducing the members of the panel: Annie Pham, Top Cow's Marketing director, Josh Ortega writer of the new series "Necromancer," Andrew Pepoy, inker on "Freshmen" and Sterbakov and Green.
Next, a slide show began showcasing Top Cow's offerings. The first image was the cover to "Top Cow's" Witchblade #88, the first cover by cover artist Terry Dodson.
November marks the tenth anniversary of "Witchblade" and Top Cow plans to celebrate.
"In November, there's a big 'Witchblade 10th anniversary book coming out," McLauchlin told the crowd. "We're having over a dozen guest artists as part of the book. George Prez will be doing some pages in it, Keu Cha who does beautiful painted work, Marc Silvestri, Luke Ross. It's going to be an outstanding issue."
The next slide was the cover art to Mark Waid's and Marc Silvestri's "Hunter-Killer" #5. McLauchlin praised the two, calling them some of the best talents working in comics.
The following slide was for one of Top Cow's new supernatural series "Necromancer" written by novelist Josh Ortega and drawn by Francis Manapaul, which debuts in August.
"The book is about Abigail Van Alstine," Ortega said. "It's pretty dark in places. We're going to try to do some interesting stuff with the story that hasn't been done with some of the magic themes."
Ortega has a beginning, middle and end planned for "Necromancer." He has the book plotted till issue 40 and, sales permitting, plans to tell the entire story.
"Freshmen" artist Leonard Kirk then arrived at the panel to applause.
The next slide featured art from another of Top Cow's new series, "V.I.C.E." from writer Aron Eli Coleite, the head writer of NBC's "Crossing Jordan." "V.I.C.E." chronicles the adventures of the FBI's super powered response team, who tackle super powered perpetrators of organized crime and domestic terrorism.
The panel was turned over to Sterbakov and Green to introduce the crowd to "Freshmen." "Freshmen" was originally created as a film concept, but when potential buyers turned it down, Sterbakov turned the idea into a comic book series.
The idea for "Freshmen" came when Sterbakov, Green, and "Greg the Bunny" creator, Dan Milano were playing ping-pong.
"We started talking about really goofy super powers," Sterbakov said.
"Freshmen" follows the adventures of a group of college kids who are sent to an overflow dorm area after the college they're attending over books the campus dorms. The kids are each subjected to the effects of an experiment in the building's basement that gives them superpowers. However, their powers reflect what they were doing at the exact minute of the experiment.
Green and Sterbakov then began showing slides of artist Leonard Kirk's character designs for "Freshmen." The characters include: Wannabe, a comic book fan who desperately wanted super powers, but had the misfortune of going out for pizza when his team mates received their powers. Wannabe's knowledge of comic books, powers and villains help his new teammates deal with their powers.
The next slide was of Puppeteer, a psych student who has the ability to possess other people and read their thoughts. She was wishing for a deeper understanding of humanity when the accident struck.
The Intoxicator has to get drunk to use his abilities. He can then belch and pass his drunken stupor upon to people. The Intoxicator was a straight-laced kid cracking his first beer when the experiment occurred.
Green Thumb is a PETA activist and a hard-core vegan. Green Thumb was, unfortunately for him, talking to one of his plants at the time of the experiment. He was granted the ability to talk to and hear plants, which causes his food to scream at him.
The Squirrel was a suave, nasty, womanizing exchange student who was chasing a squirrel out of his room when the experiment hit. So he has started turning into a squirrel. His behavior includes gathering and stashing acorns from around the campus.
The team's Amish member, Quaker AKA Liam, is capable of causing earthquakes with his belly.
The Beaver is the school's mascot, an actual beaver who was given super intelligence. However, he is obsessed with building the perfect dam.
The Seductress is a woman not comfortable with her own body and she wished for love when the experiment hit. She was given the power to make people fall in love with her. According to Sterbakov she will abuse her power.
The panel said "Freshmen" is a very humorous book, clearly, but it will deal with some serious and dark issues. The characters have to deal with the repercussions of their powers.
Every superteam needs villains. Since "Freshmen" takes place on a college campus, the Freshmens' primary foes will be the school's frat guys, who are also given powers.
"Freshmen" is a six-issue mini-series, which follows the group's first year at college. Sterbakov and Kirk would love to return and write a follow-up series. The first issue of "Freshmen" is available from Top Cow now and hits stores this month.