First Born/Broken Trinity Hardcover - Marz and Smith Talk

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The First Born/Broken Trinity Deluxe Hard Cover reprints the story of First Born, which explores the conflict between the forces of Light and Dark as New York City Police Office Sara Pezzini prepares to give birth to her first child. Desiring to tip the power balance in their own favor, the forces of Light and Dark covet the offspring of the Witchblade bearer! Broken Trinity acts as a thematic bookend, when a new Angelus bearer rises and two brand new Artifact bearers make their first appearance in the Top Cow Universe. With new players on the board upsetting a delicate balance, a Trinity will be broken and one bearer will dieTop Cow announced that they will be expanding the deluxe edition hard cover containing Broken Trinity to include First Born.

The hardcover will now contain both crossover miniseries collecting all three issues of Broken Trinity, the three tie-in issues featuring The Darkness, Angelus, and Witchblade, and Broken Trinity: Aftermath, all three issues of First Born, Witchblade #110–112. The hard cover also reprints the previously uncollected First Born: Aftermath, making the entirety of the First Born epic available in a single volume for the first time.

BROKEN FRONTIER: The First Born hardcover was originally (June 2009) thought up as a collection of the three FB-issues and the three Witchblade tie-ins for 100 USD and some thought that was pretty much for only 6 issues and less then 200 pages. There was some confusion in regards to the content. Later on it changed to include Broken Trinity and its spin-off one-shots and is now totaling 400 pages. Can you tell us something about that decision?

Ron Marz: Hey, man, I just write the stuff! Don't ask me the production details!

Phil Smith II: Filip Sablik came up with the idea to combine both stories together in one volume.  Collecting the two biggest story lines of the Top Cow Universe (to date) in a single volume made for a good idea and justified its price point.  It just made sense to reward the fans with more value and content.

BF: To compile a hardcover like this must be a lot more then just reprinting the original floppies. Can you tell the fans about the process behind the scenes?

RM: Again, Phil did all the heavy lifting on the book, so he can give you the gory details on putting it all together. From my perspective, I love big hardcover productions. I'm a hardcover whore, and the shelves in my office are stacked with DC Absolutes and Marvel Omnibus editions. So having a First Born/Broken Trinity hardcover is very, very cool to me. I love all the additional material in an Absolute or an Omnibus -- the sketches and design material, the scripts and notes. It's all a peak into the creative process, into all the work that goes into a series but is never seen by the readers. There's a wealth of that material in our volume; lots of designs and roughs by Stjepan Sejic, a couple of my scripts accompanied by the Stjepan and Phil Hester layouts.

PS: We wanted something real special.  The trickiest feature was the “virgin” slipcase. The idea was for the package itself to be like an object of art rather than clobber supporters of Top Cow with ad copy. We managed to fit all the descriptive text, bar codes and logos on the top and bottom of the case.  The wraparound art by Stjepan is versatile, and is featured on the case, the dust jacket and the poster insert.

BF: The picture shown on http://twitter.com/TopCow of the end result also showed posters and more. Can you tell me some more about the correct contents and the extras?

RM: Phil really went above and beyond to include as much as possible.  When we were proofing the book, we went through a number of proofing rounds to make sure everything was perfect.  I was really enthusiastic about how the supplemental material came together. And then I reminded myself that I'd seen all that material as we were working on the respective series. But almost all of it had never been seen by the readers –the character designs, the roughs, my scripts and the resulting layouts. The script-to-layout section really gives a glimpse into the process: the details of the scripts, how the artist interprets the script into a layout, how the layout is revised for the finished art.
PS: We had to do some digging for the bonus materials.  Ron re-pieced the scripts together that he had revised and tweaked in the editorial process.  Phil Hester dug up his thumbnails from a drive he had put to sleep in his garage that we hoped still worked.  Stjepan combed through his notes to get his concept art, etc.

BF: What made you decide to add so much more content?

RM: One of the cool things is that Stjepan produces a wealth of design material, so we had a lot of it available to us. The First Born TPB has a nice section of extras, but this goes WAY beyond that.

PS: One of our goals with the trades is to give the fans the best story experience possible.  Ron’s trades always read well, with the extra behind-the-scenes material as icing on the cake.  I know I feel let down when I purchase a trade that does not include at least a few concept sketches or behind-the-scenes content.  Top Cow’s approach is to always try to produce books that we, ourselves, would pay for.  For the First Born • Broken Trinity Deluxe Hardcover, we went a little over the top by adding two scripts, concept designs on both series, all the covers plus variant covers and a real poster.

BF: What were the challenges of creating such a feisty volume?

RM: That's really a question for Phil, but I do want to say that he did a great job pulling everything together. There were a lot of disparate elements that were included, and he made everything fit together seamlessly. It's a well-designed, elegant package.
PS: The trickiest part was the wraparound cover—I had to guess at the dimension size for Stjepan before we were able to confirm the dimensions from the printer so he could start on the design for the cover.  Luckily, I guessed correctly.  Marrying two separate story lines published a year apart into one experience, while ensuring the two titles are distinctive, yet connected, is a major challenge.  The section designs share some DNA, but each retained its own feel.  The proportions of our standard books are also a little different, with the deluxe hardcover expanding to 8.5 inches by 12 inches.  Luckily, we were able to cheat a bit without skewing any art.  It all came together with everything came out looking just right.

BF: Will it also come out as a TPB?
RM: First Born is already available as a TPB, though it doesn't include the First Born: Aftermath material, which is a Darkness story by Phil Hester and Lee Moder, and a Magdalena story by Ryan Sook and I. I should add that the Magdalena story is one of my favorite stories ever, but then again, I'm probably biased. The Broken Trinity TPB just went off to press, so that should be out in a couple of months, by the time it's printed in Asia and shipped back.  I don't think there are any plans to reproduce this complete volume as a trade. We set out to make this slipcase volume something unique, so I think we'd want to keep it that way.
PS: First Born • Broken Trinity will not come out as a trade; however, the Broken Trinity mini-series will come out as an awesome trade paperback.  Priced really reasonably at $14.99, the Broken Trinity trade paperback will collect 8 issues of material, covers and sketches.

BF: How do you both feel now the package is complete? I mean, on the one side it must be thrilling to see something you wrote come into fruition like this must be exhilarating whereas I can also imagine that the designing of this total package and seeing the end result must also be something immensely satisfactory?

RM: I'm absolutely thrilled with it. And that's coming from someone who hardly ever looks at his own printed comics. By the time an issue is in print, I've seen the material so many times; I don't get real excited about it. But this is something I'm excited about.

PS: It came out really well, but I am biased.  Everyone should see it for themselves.  We do listen to feedback from our fans, and with each production, we get a little better.  This is the second deluxe edition we have done after the Midnight Nation Deluxe, but the first for Top Cow “Universe” material.  We pushed the design even further with the virgin slipcase.  I am looking forward to what we can do on the next one…

The First Born/Broken Trinity Deluxe Hard Cover will arrive in all well-respected and self respecting comic stores around the globe at the end of January 2010.

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