Film Production Company Invests in Top Shelf

Top Shelf Productions has announced that they have sold a 33% interest to “new media entrepreneur” John S. Johnson and the film production company of Anthony Bregman (who produced Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Synecdoche, New York among others). Johnson will join the comic company’s board, currently run by Chris Staros and Brett Warnock, while Bregman’s company Likely Story now has first-look rights for all new Top Shelf publications, to potentially develop them for film or TV.

This source of funding isn’t surprising, given the typical Hollywood interest in comics as printed storyboards for movie projects, plus Top Shelf drew a lot of attention when The Surrogates was turned into a Bruce Willis movie last year.

The first project now in development is based on Alex Robinson’s Too Cool to Be Forgotten, a graphic novel about a guy who goes back in time to his high school self when stop-smoking hypnosis goes wrong. It’s a high-concept project that touches on lots of powerful themes, including nostalgia and wondering if our life choices should have been different. I thought it was a great read.

Staros and Warnock are quick to reassure that this change won’t negatively affect the well-respected indy/art comic publisher:

This deal represents a supportive investment in the company; one that leaves Chris Staros and Brett Warnock as majority stockholders (and firmly in control of the company), but also brings to bear the resources, skills, and connections of John and Anthony in helping the company expand and grow over time. …

[According to Staros,] “Two years ago, I casually mentioned that while I loved every aspect of running Top Shelf, Brett and I were starting to get worn out with being the ‘personal banks’ for the company, and by the stress that this brought during the rocky periods that publishing undergoes. Coincidentally, at that time, John S. Johnson, a long-time friend of Anthony’s (and big fan of literary graphic novels) mentioned to him that he was toying with the idea of graphic novel publishing, to possibly make it a part of his other new media interests. Anthony suggested we all meet, and over the last couple of years, our mutual friendship, common interests and goals, and respect for each other developed to the point that we decided to work together as partners in the future of Top Shelf.”

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