|Genre||Science fiction, horror, swashbuckling adventure|
|Jim Salicrup, EIC|
|Parent||Topps Company, Inc.|
Topps Comics was a division of Topps Company, Inc. that published comic books from 1993 to 1998, beginning its existence during a short comics-industry boom that attracted many investors and new companies. It was based in New York City, at 254 36th Street, Brooklyn, and at One Whitehall Street, in Manhattan.
The company specialized in licensed titles, particularly movie and television series tie-ins, such The X-Files, based on the Fox TV show, and the films Bram Stoker's Dracula and Jurassic Park. It also licensed such literary properties as Zorro, and published a smattering of original series, including Cadillacs and Dinosaurs and several based on concepts by then-retired industry legend Jack Kirby.
In March 1992, Topps Company, Inc. announced the formation of Topps Comics, to be headed by Jim Salicrup, with plans to start publishing in October 1992.
In April 1993, Topps launched a superhero line, "The Kirbyverse", based on Jack Kirby drawings and concepts, with four one-shot titles.
Topps entered the comic book market as the number of publishers was increasing, with at least nine other companies joining the field from 1990 to 1992. This coincided with an increase in comic-book market-speculation that created inflated sales and an eventual collapse of the market. Topps Comics closed in 1998.
The editor-in-chief and associate publisher was Jim Salicrup. Editors included Len Brown (co-creator of Topps' 1962 Mars Attacks cards), Howard Zimmerman, and Dwight Jon Zimmerman. The company's sales and promotions manager Charles S. Novinskie is listed as, additionally, a Topps Comics editor in his capsule biography at Non-Sport Update magazine. The company's design director, Brian Boerner, is listed as Reprint Editor (along with Charles S. Novinskie) in the Xena trade paperbacks' credits.
Veteran comic-book scripter Tony Isabella, writing about difficulties with The X-Files creator Chris Carter over the Topps Comics' series, said in a 2000 interview:
[W]hoever was approving the comics over in Chris Carter Land were the poster kids for anal retentiveness. Although it's possible that they were so picky because they never wanted the comics out there in the first place. The main reason the comics fell behind schedule was because it took so long to satisfy the X-Files people. They went over everything with a fine-tooth comb, including the letters columns. . . . I rarely ran negative letters in these columns because the [Topps] editors were afraid that the X-Files people would want even more changes in the material. Almost from the start, there were never enough usable letters for our needs. That's why I started including the 'Deep Postage' news items — and making up letters completely. I also wrote the Xena letters columns, but those were a lot easier to produce.
The "Kirbyverse" comics, launched simultaneously with April 1993 cover-dates, stemmed from character designs and story concepts that the prolific Kirby, at this very late point in his life, had in his files of unrealized projects and preliminary sketches (some for Pacific Comics, which went defunct in the 1980s). Topps licensed them for an eight-title, interrelated mythos based around what became Jack Kirby's Secret City Saga. That flagship title was written by former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Roy Thomas, with an issue #0 prequel drawn by artist Walt Simonson and the remainder of the series by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko.
Kirby himself wrote and drew eight pages of the Satan's Six premiere, interlaced with story pages by writer Tony Isabella, penciler John Cleary and inker Armando Gil. Kirby's contribution may have been drawn in the 1970s, as one historian wrote: "The 1970s was the flowering of Jack's interest in the paranormal. Freed from the restraints of more conservative collaborators, Jack delved into these themes with gusto. ... [He] developed 'Satan's Six' around this time, although it didn't see the light of day until the Topps Kirbyverse campaign in the 1990s". As well, the covers of the Bombast, Captain Glory, and NightGlider one-shot comics noted below were built around preexisting Kirby character designs.
Along with Secret City Saga and Satan's Six, the Kirbyverse titles were:
Kurt Busiek, in an undated interview, gave some background on the comics line:
Silver Star is a Jack Kirby character, originally done as a miniseries for Pacific [Comics]. Back when I was writing for the Topps Kirbyverse, I started two miniseries that were never completed, Victory and Silver Star, both of which got one issue published before the line collapsed. Victory was a crossover, bringing together all the established Kirbyverse characters and reintroducing Captain Victory [of the 1981–84 Pacific Comics series Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers]... but Silver Star was a standalone project, one that was completely plotted and mostly scripted.
In 2000, the Kirby estate said Dark Horse Entertainment had optioned Satan's Six as a film property.
In 2011, Dynamite Entertainment published a comic book series titled Kirby: Genesis that represented a reboot of the Kirbyverse.
Note: Most, but not all, were designed as limited series.