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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Top Cow announced a First Born Aftermath one-shot for March and its second Pilot Season plans at its Wizard World Texas panel on Saturday.

The oversized Aftermath book will include two 11-page stories, one by Ron Marz and Ryan Sook and the other by Phil Hester and an artist to be announced. Marz is writing a bridging story, with art by Witchblade artist Stjepan Sejic.

"It will introduce a major new villain for Jackie," Hester said.

The second Pilot Season will take place in May/June. The twist this time is all the books will be original concepts. Top Cow's Matt Hawkins said deals have already been made with talent, with announcements coming.

Panelists on Saturday included Hester, Hawkins, Rob Levin, Filip Sablik, Marc Silvestri and Michael Broussard.

Following are highlights:

* Hester on writing The Darkness: "It's pretty daunting, but also exciting and rewarding to be trusted with a character that has been as long as The Darkness."

* Broussard said he's been a fan of The Darkness for a long time and is excited to be on board for his first ongoing. Hester likened it to playing center field for the Yankees as a rookie.

* Hawkins noted 2007 marks Top Cow's 16th year.

* Hawkins said there will be a sequel to The Darkness video game -- "sooner than later." The first game, which was banned in Singapore, sold out its original shipment in a week. Hawkins said there will be a Platinum edition.

* Silvestri said work continues on developing The Darkness movie.

* Hester formally announced The Magdalena/Daredevil crossover that he is writing and drawing and will be released in February. "It's a pretty natural corssover I think, Daredevil vs. a killer nun," Hester said. "I've wanted to drawn Daredevil my whole career, and this is a natural match."

* Hawkins said Dale Keown is "feverishly" working on The Darkness/Pitt. Levin said two issues are completed and it should be done by the end of 2008.

* Keown is drawing flashbacks for The Darkness #3.

* Hawkins said Hester's pitch for The Darkness, unlike other writers, took Jackie out of his element and didn't deal with Mafia stories.

Hester provides thumbnails with his scripts for The Darkness.

* Broussard was selling luggage for a living before joining Top Cow. "I told Michael, 'You're supposed to suck for a few years,' but that never happened," Hester said.

* Hawkins said he was looking for a creative run of 20 issues with his new team on The Darkness -- "if not longer."

* The Witchblade trade paperbacks get rebranded in January. They will be available in comics stores for five dollars. There will be a second Witchblade Compendium.

* Levin said Witchblade artist Sejic is "incredibly fast," turning around the Free Comic Book Day in two days.

* Marz and Sejic are committed from Witchblade #116-150.

* Hawkins said the Witchblade anime series was the No. 17 anime series out of 97 and No. 4 in 18-over in Japan. "It was the first time an American propety had been given that kind of treatment in Japan," Hawkins said.

Six total volumes of the series will be released on DVD from FUNimation, with Top Cow artists providing slipcase covers. "It's entertaining as hell," Silvestri said.

* Hawkins said he will traveling to Japan after Thanksgiving, and Top Cow is "very close" to a deal for a second season of the Witchblade anime. He said he is hoping the second season will include The Darkness.

* Hawkins said a United States television deal has been made, but the network cannot be announced yet.

* Top Cow will be launching a print-on-demand shirt program soon.

* The voting for Top Cow's Pilot Season will launch on myspace on Dec. 3.

* Hawkins said Top Cow "has more stuff in the works" with Madame Mirage artist Kenneth Rocafort.

* Hawkins showed the trailer for Wanted, which is also a fixture at the Top Cow booth. A Director's Cut Wanted hardcover is scheduled for February.

"The film is really good," Hawkins said. "It's something we've very proud to be associated with."

Wanted is scheduled for a March 28 release.

* Silvestri said the Witchblade feature film "is looking pretty good to go." He said both Witchblade and The Darkness movies will be origin films.

"There are elements we are insisting on keeping," he said of the movies. Witchblade would likely be a PG-13 film and The Darkness an R, Silvestri said.

Silvestri said a director has been attached for Witchblade but can't be announced yet.

* Silvestri said there are plans for another arc of Hunter/Killer.

* Hawkins said Top Cow's goal is to have at least one book in the stores a week, but the company wants to keep the line to four or five titles.

* Hawkins said Top Cow has an international approach to its publishing and that supernatural books do better than super-herobooks around the world.

* Sablik said Top Cow's web site will be revamped early next year.

* Why not restart with Witchblade #1? "Because we don't want to," Hawkins said matter of factly.

* Video-game plans also include The Magdalena and Hunter-Killer.

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