Likely Story producer takes share in comicbook publisher

Comicbook publisher Top Shelf Comix has sold a 33% stake in the company to Anthony Bregman, head of production company Likely Story (“Synecdoche, New York”), and Johnson & Johnson scion John S. Johnson.

Co-publishers Brett Warnock and Chris Staros will retain the other two-thirds of the company, and Likely Story will get a first-look deal on new Top Shelf pubs for film and TV development. First up: Alex Robinson’s “Too Cool to Be Forgotten.”

Forgotten” follows a 40-something dad who undergoes hypnosis to quit smoking and finds himself back in 1985, reliving high school with full knowledge of his later life. Graphic novel is Robinson’s fifth with Top Shelf, which reprints his ’90s slacker saga “Box Office Poison” as well as his new work.

The publisher has seen its books onscreen before: Bruce Willis sci-fi actioner “Surrogates” was based on the company’s graphic novel of the same name. Top Shelf is also the publisher of works by Alan Moore, writer of “Watchmen,” “V for Vendetta” and “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” since his acrimonious break with Time Warner’s DC Comics. Top Shelf continues to publish the “League” series.

Staros says he and Warnock “were starting to get worn out with being the ‘personal banks’ for the company” and so he turned to Bregman, a friend of many years.

Top Shelf has been presented with several investment proposals over the years, but most of them were either proposals to buy out the company, purchase a controlling interest or use the name of the company to do something different,” Staros said.

Johnson, whose investments have included Internet research firms and workshop/retreat the Screenwriters Colony, runs the Pacific Foundation, a grant-giving org that funds the arts, environmental causes and political causes including liberal media watchdog group Media Matters.

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