Exclusive: ’39 Minutes’ Wins Top Cow’s Pilot Season

MTV Geek has exclusively learned from Top Cow Productions that the comic book “39 Minutes,” by William Harms and Jerry Lando, has just won the publisher’s 2010 “Pilot Season” competition. Pilot Season is an initiative by Top Cow in which a series of one-shots are previewed for the public and voted on — the winner becoming a regular series. In a sense, it’s comics at its most democratic, putting the decision-making in the hands of the fans. As Top Cow publisher Filip Siblik describes it, “The format really allows us as a publisher and creators as well to explore some unique ideas and gauge fan and retailer interest in them. Each year, we’ve refined the process and broadened the appeal of Pilot Season and that’s something we’re committed to continue doing.”

As one can imagine, the creators of “39 Minutes” are ecstatic. Harms, who also wrote the comic “Impaler,” told MTV Geek, “I’m kind of speechless right now. All of the books in this year’s competition are really good, so I’m excited and humbled that 39 Minutes came out on top.” Up-and-comer and Joe Kubert school graduate Lando said, “I can’t accurately express how lucky I am to have the opportunity to be able to continue with the story. Our fellow competitors all turned in amazing stories and I am truly grateful to everyone who voted for 39 Minutes.”

“39 Minutes” (which also featured a cover by Rafael Albuquerque), was up against stiff competition, including “Forever” by Matt Hawkins, Brad Inglesby, Bagus Hutomo, and Thomas Nachlik; “7 Days From Hell” by Bryan Edward Hill, Rob Levin, and Brian Stelfreeze; “Crosshair” by Marc Silvestri, Jeff Katz and Allan Jefferson, and “Asset” by Filip Sablik, Jenny Frision, and David Marquez.

Whereas in previous years the Pilot Season one-shots were rolled out over a year and voted on, the 2010 season saw it all come together within five weeks. How did the team on “39 Minutes” deal with the pressures of the competition and voting process? While there were occasional tense moments for Harms and Lando, mostly they learned to just enjoy the ride. “Once the voting started, it was nerve-wracking at times,” Harms said, “especially when Jerry and I’d see that another book was gaining on us and we had to rally to get more votes. But overall it was an absolute blast. Top Cow did a great job of helping all of the creators get the word out about their books — they set up interviews, store signings, and even hosted special promo videos on their web site. I’m really glad I was able to experience it.”

As for what readers can expect from the series “39 Minutes,” Harms promises that they will not be disappointed: “I have the entire story planned out, and I think folks will be surprised by where it goes. The first issue was intentionally designed as a sock to the stomach, and the rest of the story will detail how this group of soldiers, who swore an oath to protect the United States, now feel justified in cutting a swath of destruction across the heartland of America. I can’t wait to get started.”

Siblik is equally optimistic about the future of “39 Minutes,” and had high words of praise for the winning Pilot Season creative team: “I had a fantastic time working with William on the second chapter of Impaler and am looking forward to continuing that relationship with 39 Minutes. William is one of the smartest, high concept writers writing comics and has a real knack for creating realistic compelling characters. Jerry is a relatively new artist and one I’m proud to say I discovered at 2010’s C2E2 convention in Chicago. I think we’re just seeing the surface of what Jerry is capable of!”

“39 Minutes,” about a group of disaffected war veterans on a crime spree, breaks free of many preconceived notions of what a “comic book story” is or should be. In a larger sense, the “39 Minutes” win and the Pilot Season program in general is about Top Cow’s focus on encouraging new ideas in the comic book marketplace. Siblik: “You can also see Top Cow’s commitment to pushing the boundaries with our relaunch of the Minotaur Press imprint and titles like Echoes and Last Mortal. Other projects we have planned in 2011 as Top Cow Productions titles like Mysterious Ways, and Sunset, I don’t think you’d see from many other publishers. Even looking at previous Pilot Season winners such as Genius and Twilight Guardian gives you a sense of the diversity of projects we tackle.”

MTV Geek congratulates the winners of the 2010 Pilot Season, and looks forward to what they will do next!

Read the whole first issue of “39 Minutes” here!


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