In the December solicitations for IDW, there was an interesting new book launch – one called Indestructible, which was being published through a new publisher called Darby Pop. Now, I didn’t realise that IDW had imprints within their company, and it appears that Darby Pop are the first imprint to run original material through them.
The whole idea of having imprints within a comics company is nothing new – I know there are things like Skybound at Image and Icon at Marvel. But what do these things actually mean? To get a look into how a company like this operate, I spoke with marketing director Jason Enright and Editor-in-Chief David Wohl about the launch of Darby Pop – and what their plans are over the next few months.
Steve: First of all, how do you define Darby Pop as a publisher? What type of books do you focus on, and how do you position yourselves within the industry?
Jason Enright: Darby Pop’s books are very character-driven. And we look for ideas that are a little out there — that place a “hero” in an unfamiliar world or extraordinary situation. We’re probably also a bit more writer-driven than some other publishers. And we love genre. So, in our first wave of titles, we have a modern superhero satire, a sci-fi take on law enforcement, and a funky space opera/sword & sorcery blend. Ultimately, it’s all about pairing great storytellers with great artists to make really entertaining comics.
David Wohl: For Darby Pop, the sky really is the limit with regard to what types of books we publish. When we look at potential story ideas, there is no genre that’s off limits. The key is really an interesting character, and well-constructed stories that not only are complete in and of themselves, but also offer an opportunity for continuation long into the future.
Steve: How does the relationship between Darby Pop and IDW work? Will IDW be publishing all Darby Pop titles, or is publication discussed on a series-by-series basis?
Jason: Darby Pop is its own entity. We produce the books, and deliver them “whole” to IDW to publish and distribute. Of course, we work closely with Sarah Gaydos and Chris Ryall (at IDW) to make sure that the final product is the best it can be. It is a great set-up because we get the benefit of IDW’s resources and industry knowledge while retaining creative control. IDW has been a great supporter from the beginning, and we see this as the start of a long-lasting partnership.
Steve: I know Image have a lot of various imprints – like Skybound or Shadowline – but am I right in thinking you’ll be the first imprint within IDW?
Jason: IDW does have other imprints but most of those have been partnerships to reprint classic comics or deliver pre-existing intellectual property. I do believe that we are the first imprint offering entirely original content.
Cover by Bernard Chang
Steve: The first Darby Pop release, Indestructible, is due in December, by Jeff Kline, Javi Garron, and Salvi Garcia. What’s the book about, and how did you decide which book to launch the imprint with?
Jason: “Indestructible” looks at what happens when a regular guy gets mistaken for something he’s not, and overnight becomes an A-list celebrity. How does he deal with that? How do his friends and family react? The twist is that he has been mistaken for a superhero who’s supposedly indestructible. So, how can he maintain that ruse – and continue to live the “lifestyle” – without getting himself killed?
David: “Indestructible” is the perfect launch title for us because it exemplifies what our readers can expect from Darby Pop. At first glance, it seems like a typical superhero book, but once you look inside, you realize that this story is told with a very unique point of view. Our “hero,” Greg Pincus, is a guy who just happens to be in the wrong place at the very wrong time, and his life is turned upside-down because of what — at first — is a simple misunderstanding.
From the outset, the reader knows that Greg is no more super-powered than you or I, but once the world starts treating him like a superhero, Greg finds the perks hard to ignore, and suddenly it’s not so easy to reveal to everyone—including his suddenly proud and doting mother—that this was all just a big misunderstanding. Some would say Greg is a victim of circumstance, but others might believe him to be the luckiest man on earth.
Steve: What other titles are coming up in future?
Jason: After “Indestructible,” we’ll be launching “City” by Eric Garcia with interior art by Javier Fernandez, colors by Felix Serrano, and covers by Tommy Lee Edwards and Matthew Waite. This is a sci-fi book set in the not-too-distant-future about a software developer who helps create a program for the government that uses all our cell phones, CCTV cameras, and computers to constantly monitor goings-on in San Francisco to supposedly protect us from terrorist threats.
But, after a seemingly random attack, our hero (Ben) is actually “merged” with the program so that he can see through the city’s “eyes.” This leads him to discover that nothing is as it seems, and the world is a much more dangerous place than he thought. “City” drops in February.
“7th Sword” is a new series we’re releasing in April. It’s a really cool blend of samurai action and futuristic tech from the mind of writer John Raffo. Interior art is being done by Nelson Blake II, colors by Dave McCaig, and covers by Nelson and Andrew Robinson. Ultimately, it’s a genre mash-up set on a far-off world where human colonists battle against bandit androids for control of the planet’s limited natural resources. Their only hope is to seek the help of a disgraced soldier who can train them in the ancient ways of combat using a legendary Malathane sword.
Cover for 7th Sword
David: And those are just the series that we can talk about right now! Suffice it to say that you’ll be hearing a lot from Darby Pop in the upcoming months!
Steve: Do the creators own the titles published through Darby Pop? Are these creator-owned books, or work-for-hire projects?
Jason: We share ownership with the creators, and the creators are a part of the process every step of the way. So while the books may not be 100% creator owned, they are definitely creator driven. Jeff Kline, John Raffo, and Eric Garcia are the respective creators of “Indestructible,” “7th Sword,” and “City.” They work with Darby Pop’s staff to pick artists, give notes on art, and even help write the solicitation text and ads. They may come to regret that level of involvement after a long day of answering my emails, but our writers are very much a part of every aspect of these books.
Darby Pop is a very collaborative effort. We have story meetings where the artists, writers and the core Darby Pop team get together to discuss the books in toto. Then, we have further discussions after each artist has done initial design, then layouts, then actual page art for each issue. We really want to bring each member of the team into the whole of the creative process, and you’ll see some really cool moments in some of the books that wouldn’t have been possible without input from everyone.
Steve: Darby Pop is also the name attributed to a television production company which works on Transformers and GI Joe – both series where IDW owns the comic books rights. How did the company move from TV production to creating comics?
Jason: Darby Pop is the name of an entertainment company founded by Jeff Kline, and while Darby Pop Productions makes (and will continue to make) TV shows and movies, Darby Pop Publishing will be creating comics. Jeff has said that his only goal across any medium is to tell really great stories. And publishing comics just lets him – and all the people we work with — do more of that.
Steve: Is there a possible long-term goal here that some of the books you publish may be then pitched for television?
David: I think it’s every publisher’s long-term goal, whether stated or unstated, for their properties to have a life outside of comic books. For right or wrong, it’s really the nature of the industry, and the best way to make as many people aware of the properties as possible. But one thing I can say, with 100% certainty, is that our goal is to put out the best comics that we possibly can.
We’re not worried about a certain character being right for film, or a certain storyline working on television. When it comes to our comics, our readers are the only ones we care about impressing, and they’re the ones we want to keep coming back for more.
Steve: How many books do you see Darby Pop putting out? Do you have a fixed base of books you’ll be starting with, before possibly expanding outwards?
Jason: Well, these first 3 books (“Indestructible,” “City,” and “7th Sword”) comprise what we think of as the first wave. We are currently working on a second wave, but I can’t say much more about it as it is still in the works. Just know that our long-term goal is to publish a brand-new title every other month. And all the books from Wave 1 are scheduled to continue beyond their initial arcs; we are working on those second and even third story arcs right now.
David: Yeah, Jason touched upon what’s most important to us. We definitely plan on launching new series, and we have an ambitious plan to do just that, like he said, every other month. But, ultimately, it will be up to the readers to determine which comics will remain as ongoing series, and which won’t.
If the readers’ appetite is there, we’d love to keep every one of our series ongoing. We definitely have the stories to tell. But the economics of the business being what they are, we know that we’ll need a certain level of sales to keep the books afloat.
Cover for City #1
What’s your long-term goal with the company?
David: Our long-term goal is simple: To create a comic company that will withstand the test of time. We know that there are many potential pitfalls, and the comic landscape is littered with companies that tried to become the “next big thing” and failed within a short amount of time. We don’t pretend to have all the answers–nobody does–but we feel that we do understand what will allow us the best chance for success—that’s telling great stories with great characters and great art.
To achieve that end, we’ve put (and are still putting) together a team of like-minded individuals who are all driven by the same desire: to create a line of books that we can all be proud of. And we believe that once fans check out our books, our long-term goal can and will become a reality!
Steve: Where can people learn more about Darby Pop Publishing?
Jason: Their best bet is to check out www.DarbyPop.com where you can see creator bios, previews of the books, and a behind the scenes blog. If you look us up on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr you can see sneak peeks at in-progress artwork and chat with me as I’m always on social media.
Many thanks to Jason and David for their time! The first Darby Pop title, Indestructible, launches in December.