Top Cow Month continues with an interview with one of the publisher’s most prolific writers, Ron Marz, about one of their most high-profile series: Artifacts! A mysterious figure is trying to gather the 13 artifacts of the Top Cow universe–for example, the Witchblade, the Darkness, and the Spear of Destiny–bringing all of the major players together for one 13-issue limited series.
Marz chatted with us about how the concept for Artifacts came together, how he feels about catalog-spanning crossovers, and what’s coming up next!
TFAW.com: How did the idea behind Artifacts come together?
Ron Marz: It really came about pretty organically. The kinds of stories we’d been telling were adding characters and pieces to the universe to the point where it felt like we should pay it all off with a big series.
TFAW.com: It’s really been interesting to see so many of Top Cow’s major players, and their “artifacts,” interacting together. Has this been the plan all along, or was it a happy accident?
RM: Once we realized that things were pointing towards a much larger storyline, we started to put the pieces in place to bring everything together. So I guess it was more of a happy accident initially, and then more of a specific plan as Artifacts got closer.
TFAW.com: A lot of the characters come from titles you write on a monthly basis, including Witchblade, Angelus, and Magdalena. How difficult has it been for you to merge Artifacts with the stories of their regular books?
RM: I’ve really tried to keep Artifacts as a separate entity as much as possible. I feel like the current vogue of event storytelling that crosses into a dozen or more other titles is really taking advantage of a readership that’s already close to maxed out when it goes to the comic shop every week. So with the exception of reflecting something like the tragedy in Sara’s family in Witchblade, Artifacts very much tells its own story. Someone can read the 13 issues of Artifacts and get the complete story. Or, someone can read an ongoing series like Witchblade or Magdalena only, and also feel like they’re not missing out on anything.
TFAW.com: Which characters were you most excited to get your hands on, and why?
RM: I always have fun writing Aphrodite, and Tom Judge has proved really interesting to write. But I think the most intriguing aspect for me has been putting together characters who don’t normally interact with each other. The supernatural side of the universe, which is really represented by a lot of the Artifacts bearers, has never had much interaction with the more tech-oriented side, like Cyberforce and Hunter-Killer. Putting them next to each other has been a lot of fun.
TFAW.com: How do you juggle writing so many comics at once?
RM: I don’t leave my office a whole lot. The work load is honestly about all I can handle, but it does at least allow me the option of choosing what I work on each day. If Artifacts isn’t clicking on a particular day, I can switch over to Witchblade or Magdalena and still get something accomplished.
TFAW.com: Do you have time to read comics? If so, which ones?
RM: Honestly, I don’t have anywhere near the time to read what I’d like. I find myself reading collections much more than single issues, so I pick up an array of things: Hellboy, Criminal, Jonah Hex, Walking Dead, Thor.
TFAW.com: I’m fascinated by Aphrodite IV. How much of her actions are her own free will, and how much is simply the programming of whoever is controlling her?
RM: Up to this point, I think most of it has been her programming. But one of the things I’m going to be playing with from here on out is her burgeoning self-awareness. By the end of Artifacts, Aphrodite will wind up in a different place than where she started.
TFAW.com: The face of the mastermind behind Hope’s kidnapping–and the entire shadowy Artifacts plot–has been revealed, but his identity has not. What can you tell us about him?
RM: I can tell you to read issue #7.
TFAW.com: Longtime readers are excited about the return of Tom Judge, the damned priest. What’s his role in this story?
RM: Tom Judge is in possession of the Rapture. One of the aspects of that particular artifact is that it brings hope to the hopeless. You can draw your own conclusions
TFAW.com: It looks like there will be a new artist every four issues: Michael Broussard, Whilce Portacio, and then Jeremy Haun. How have you selected each artist, and do you have any hints as to who comes next?
RM: Each guy was really a right time-right place situation, where there was a schedule opening, as well as the right fit for the material. One of the biggest hurdles is always creative casting, putting the right people together on the right projects. When you do that properly, most of it falls in place. And no, no hints about who wraps it all up, other than it’s somebody I’m really excited to be working with.
TFAW.com: Can you tell us anything about Jeremy Haun’s arc?
RM: I think it’s going to be a revelation for a lot of people, because of a lot of Jeremy’s previous work has been of a street-level nature, like Berserker and his Bat-universe books. There’s going to be some real character-oriented aspects to his art, of course, but there’s also going to be an epic quality to a lot of it, which is something people haven’t seen Jeremy draw very much of in the past. He’s really stepping up his game.
Our thanks go out to Ron for taking some time from his busy (very busy!) schedule to talk with us. Artifacts #7 is due May 4. Haven’t gotten into Artifacts yet? Order Artifacts Vol. 1 and 2 here! Plus, stay tuned for our interview with Artifacts artist Whilce Portacio on Friday.
What do you think of Artifacts? Has it gotten you into the Top Cow universe? Post your comments below!