Over the past 6 years writer Ron Marz has become the architect of Image Comics’ Top Cow universe. After taking over the company’s flagship title Witchblade in 2004, Marz has turned New York City Police Detective Sara Pezzini one of the strongest female protagonists in comics today. Now after 70 consecutive issues at the helm, Marz is stepping down from Witchblade with issue #150.
Ron sat down with Bloody-Disgusting to discuss his legendary run on Witchblade, as well as his future plans for the Top Cow universe as he prepares for the world changing events in the series Artifacts.
RM: Well, I don’t know, I’ve never been divorced, so I have no frame of reference. Though I guess my tenure on Witchblade did last longer than some marriages. It does feel a little like breaking up with someone, where you know you’re both moving on to date other people.
Was it hard for you as a writer to overcome the perception by some comic fans that Witchblade was nothing more than a T&A badgirl book? Do you think that is still an issue?
RM: Sure, audience perception is always an issue, especially when a segment of the audience is basing its opinion on information that’s ten years out of date. Ultimately, you can’t do much about it other than to produce the kind of book you want to produce, and then put it in front of people. My feeling is that perception and reality become the same when people actually open up the book and read it. There’s not much you can do about people who want to remain willfully ignorant and refuse to even try the book. One of the more satisfying aspects for me has been getting feedback from people who come in with one perception, try the series, and come away with a completely different perception.
Looking back on your run of Witchblade, are there any issues that stick out in your mind as your proudest moments on the series? Are there any stories you wish you got a chance to tell?
RM: Sure, there are stories we didn’t get to, but I think it’s better to leave with stories untold than to stay too long. I’m fond of a number of issues in the run, especially #92 when we revealed the Witchblade’s origin, drawn by an all-star cast of artists.
Witchblade is now currently the longest running ongoing series with a female protagonist after DC re-started Wonder Woman. Is it surprising to you that Witchblade is now up there with iconic characters like that and was there ever any discussion to re-boot the series with a new #1?
RM: What’s surprising to me is that other publishers can’t seem to make a go of it with books starring female leads. I think it’s great that Witchblade is tops in terms of consecutively-numbered issues. But the other side of that coin is that it’s a rather sad commentary on the industry overall. The lack of female leads is a failure, there’s no other way to view it.
Shifting gears, you are also wrapping up a story arc on another key Top Cow book in Artifacts. The thing I loved about this series is that new readers could pick up Artifacts, have zero knowledge of the Top Cow Universe and not be bogged down by years of continuity. Was it your intent to create a big “event” type book and still make it accessible to new readers?
RM: Making a story accessible to new readers is always my intent. The fact that it’s unusual for an event series to be accessible to a new audience is a sad commentary. I think mainstream comics in general spend so much time catering to the audience we already have, we forget about the other 99 percent of the population. I want to bring new readers to my books, and to comics in general, whenever I can. That’s how we keep this medium going.
Artifacts is now an ongoing book, where is the series heading as it shifts into the second year? Will it focus on one particular Top Cow character or still encompass the entire universe/cast of character?
RM: We’ll have a larger, more diverse cast than a solo book like Witchblade or the Darkness, but Artifacts isn’t a “team book,” in that sense. The point-of-view character for the readers is Tom Judge, the fallen priest who has played a large role in Artifacts up to now. I don’t want to give too much away about Artifacts #13, which brings the first storyline to a definite conclusion, but there will be some significant differences in the Top Cow Universe from that point forward. Starting with issue #14, we’ll explore the new status quo, but definitely do so in a way that welcomes new readers. We decided to continue the numbering with issue #14, but for all intents and purposes, issue #14 might as well be a #1 issue.
Artifacts #13 promises to be a “world-changing” event in the Top Cow universe. How is this issue different from any of the other big event-style books that is currently being done by Marvel/DC or even Image United? Do you approach a story like this different than you would a crossover at another company?
RM: When you do a crossover series or an event series, you have to play within the boundaries you’re given. As you surmised, the rules are a bit different at Marvel or DC than they would be at Top Cow. Most often, “events” end up back where they started, bringing characters full circle. They’re like a Reset button. Artifacts is more like a Fast Forward button.
Witchblade #150 Drop Wednesday December 14 From Top Cow. Below if a special 5-page preview: