IDW moves to historic location, opens comic art gallery

DC isn’t the only comics company moving office—IDW just announced a move to a former Navy barracks within the historic NTC in Liberty Station in Point Loma. And they’re adding the San Diego Comic Art Gallery to their office space, to be opened in June. The move is both for expansion and to make IDW more of the community. Or as Ted Adams put it “We’re going to be able to show the community, and the world, just who IDW is.”

Details:

The San Diego Comic Art Gallery will be a unique, new and dynamic space located within the IDW offices, designed to educate and engage the local San Diego community and the region of Southern California with the sequential comic book and graphic arts. The SDCAG will create a permanent home in San Diego as a showcase for this celebrated art form; already so pervasive in pop culture, thanks to the meteoric success of comic-based films, television and entertainment, and already so associated with the San Diego area, thanks to Comic-Con International. With a retail space, a gallery of original art from comics and animation, and actual working artists on the premises, the SDCAG is an entirely new kind of venture. Harry L. Katz, former Head Curator in the Prints and Photographs Division at the Library of Congress, has been named the curator of SDCAG.
 
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Through events, author and artist appearances, art installations and celebrations, the SDCAG will become a destination to worldwide fans of the medium, and cement San Diego’s status as a Capital of the comic arts, while becoming an integral part of the immediate community. The first installation will be an extensive showcase of the work of Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and local San Diego resident.
 
“We’ve been looking to make a move for a while,” said Ted Adams, CEO & Publisher of IDW, “We’ve been expanding rapidly, and simply have run out of room. At the same time, we’ve been looking for a space that more accurately reflects who we are as a company. When we started talking with the NTC, it became evident immediately that this would be a perfect fit. And with the gallery, we’re going to be able to show the community, and the world, just who IDW is. This move is the perfect next step in the evolution of our company.”
 
“The NTC Foundation welcomes IDW Publishing and their creative team to the NTC Arts & Culture District at Liberty Station,” said NTC Foundation Executive Director Alan Ziter.  “Their new San Diego Comic Art Gallery will be a great addition to the numerous art galleries and museums already at NTC and we look forward to the creative collaborations ahead. We anticipate it will be a San Diego landmark destination for comic and animation art lovers from all over the world.”

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Moving into a historic building has its unique challenges and is being made possible with the assistance of San Diego local area businesses such as Good & Roberts LLC and obrARCHITECTURE inc. Taking 18,344 square feet, IDW will now be the largest tenant in the already vibrant arts district.
 
After 15 years as a prominent part of the local business community, IDW Publishing is sure to be a more public presence with the move to NTC. The Grand Opening is scheduled for June 1, 2015.

Scribd aims to become to become THE streaming app for comics with Marvel, IDW, Valiant and more

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WHO will be the Netflix/Spotify of comics? Several companies have been trying to offer all you can eat comcis buffets, but a lack of top content has been holding them back. But Scribd just made a major play announcing a $8.99 a month plan that allows you access to 10,000 comics, including top titles from Marvel, IDW/Top Shelf, Archie, Dynamite and Valiant. Scribd has been around for a while as en embeddable pdf reader, and already offers over a million ebooks and audiobooks on a subscription basis, so this makes a lot of sense.

Titles in the 10,000 book library include Spider-Man, My Little Pony, X-O Manowar, Lcoke & Key and graphic novels by Alan Moore, Matt Fraction, Gail Simone, George R.R. Martin and more—so a lot of good content but not everything available on Marvel Unlimited, for instance.
 
“We are very excited to take this step in expanding our subscription service beyond books,” said Trip Adler, co-founder and CEO of Scribd in a statement. “This addition gives comics readers the freedom of unlimited reading, while also giving our ebook and audiobook lovers the opportunity to discover comics and graphic novels.”

“IDW and Top Shelf have been considering subscription models for comics for some time,” said Jeff Webber, IDW’s Vice President of Digital Publishing & Business Development in his own statement. “Scribd came to us with the perfect opportunity to offer the entire catalog to fans and new readers. Time for some binge-reading!”

“For decades, a driving force at Marvel has been the desire to put comics in the hands of new readers,” sschimed in Daniele Campbell, Marvel’s VP CRM. “Our partnership with Scribd allows some of Marvel’s greatest stories to sit alongside Scribd’s already vast and eclectic catalogue of content in an effort to reach readers who might not have access to a comic shop.”

Ever unafraid to take a digital plunge, IDW is offering a two month free trial running until 2/17, where as regular Scribd offers a one month trial.

I’ve never been a fan of how Scribd embeds work in blog posts, but I never tried their sub service, which is optimized for tablets, so I’m sure it will be a better reading experience.

$8.99 — the cost of a mere two or three comics a month— is a pretty reasonable deal—well this be the next killer app? What do you all think? Will you sign up?

 
Some more deets on the content:


●        Classic Comics – Classic runs of the Avengers, the X-Men, Daredevil, Archie, Judge Dredd, the Rocketeer and more
●        Top Characters – Spider-Man, the Avengers, Betty and Veronica, Kevin Keller, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, My Little Pony, G.I. Joe, Bloodshot, Adventure Time
●        Major Creators – Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Fiona Staples, Darwyn Cooke, Mark Waid, Ed Brubaker, Renee French, Jeffrey Brown, Joe Hill, and many more
●        Acclaimed Graphic Novels – March, From Hell, Swallow Me Whole, Underwater Welder, Spiral-Bound, The Ticking, Too Cool to Be Forgotten
●        Award Winners – League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, 30 Days of Night, Locke & Key, Alec, Will You Still Love Me if I Wet the Bed?
●      Hit YA Titles – Ultimate Spider-Man, Runaways, Afterlife With Archie, Harbinger, Lumberjanes
●        Manga – Partnership with MediaDo brings titles from Cork and Harlequin Manga, including work by acclaimed artist Moyoco Anno
●        Leading Publishers – Marvel, Arcana, Archie, Boom! Studios, Dynamite, IDW/Top Shelf, Kingstone, Space Goat, Top Cow, Valiant, Zenescope

IDW and Hasbro renew pact

This year marks the Tenth anniversary of IDW Publishing and Hasbro being in business together, a relationship that began in 2005 with the publication of IDW’s first TRANSFORMERS title. To celebrate a decade of creativity, innovation, and success, the two companies are announcing the extension of their blockbuster relationship.
 

Once TRANSFORMERS was established as an immediate success, IDW expanded its comic line to include the Hasbro property G.I. JOE, then eventually the smash-hit MY LITTLE PONY and coming this March, JEM & THE HOLOGRAMS! IDW will also continue to publish the LITTLEST PET SHOP and DUNGEONS & DRAGONS comics.  These titles have become perennial staples at IDW, and will continue to play key roles in IDW’s publishing slate going forward, in all existing formats, both print and digital. Fans of the line can expect much more of the quality products they’ve come to expect: Comics, Trade Paperbacks, Hardcovers, Micro Comic Fun Packs, IDW Limited collections, and more.
 
“At this point, I almost feel I’ve run out of superlatives for Hasbro. They remain an absolutely fantastic collaborator on every level,” said IDW CEO & Publisher, Ted Adams. “After ten years in business together, it’s clear what a huge part of our success Hasbro has been, and what an appropriate time this is to solidify our relationship well into the future.”

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When I first got this email, I read it as “Ended their relationship, and I was like WHA–???!?!? But no no, the correct title is “IDW And Hasbro Celebrate 10 Years By Extending Their Relationship ” which makes a ton of sense. Books like Transformers, GI Joe and My Little Pony have become mainstays for IDW and often damn good comics, like the epic TRANSFORMERS VS GI JOE that Tom Scioli and John Barber turned into a critical hit.

2014 was full of hits that captivated fans and critics alike. From the hit TRANSFORMERS event Dark Cybertron, to the celebratory 25th issue of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, readers were treated to some truly monumental stories. The critically acclaimed TRANSFORMERS vs G.I. JOE, series found itself among 8 “Best Of” lists for 2014, with VICE Magazine proclaiming, “If you were a child in the ‘80s and remember playing with these toys, this comic will work for you on that level. If you appreciate some of the most beautiful drawings currently being published in a comic book, then this can work for you on that level, too.”
 
“IDW embodies all of the great qualities Hasbro looks for in a publisher, and we share common values,” said Michael Kelly, Hasbro’s Director of Global Publishing. “With IDW, we know we can count on superb storytelling, innovative distribution strategies, and bold thinking. We’ve come a long way together in ten years, but this is only the beginning.”
 
Announced recently by Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. the fan-favorite series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was voted the Best All-Ages Series and earned the coveted Diamond Gem award for 2014! This marks the second Diamond Gem award earned by the series, the previous being Best Licensed TP/HC in 2013.
 
With an extension on most licenses and formats moving into the future, it’s clear that 2015 is only the beginning for IDW and Hasbro. 

The Worldly Magic of Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese

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Under the Sign of Capricorn by Hugo Pratt IDW/Eurocomics, $29.99 _________________________________________________

As the year turns, IDW’s EuroComics imprint debuts with the first of twelve projected volumes of Hugo Pratt’s beloved Corto Maltese. For these elegantly produced trade paperbacks, Pratt’s literate, witty, exceedingly well-researched and beautifully drawn stories are translated by Simone Castaldi of Hofstra University and Dean Mullaney, producer/co-editor of IDW’s essential Milton Caniff collections and their Eisner award-winning Alex Toth biographical trilogy. Pratt’s Corto Maltese is among the most highly regarded series in European fiction, but American publications done by NBM in the 1980s and by Rizzoli in 2012 had production problems and they found lukewarm receptions. Finally, Mullaney and IDW do Pratt justice with this new series.

Hugo Pratt was born in 1927, of Italian, English, Jewish and Turkish heritage. In 1936 his father, a Mussolini supporter, moved his family to Africa, where at the age of 14 young Hugo was conscripted into the colonial police. The now-multilingual youth became entranced by Caniff’s comic strip Terry and the Pirates and writers like Joseph Conrad, Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson. After his father’s death in a British POW camp in East Africa in 1942, Pratt and his mother returned to Venice, where he studied at the military college Città di Castello and interpreted for the allied army. In 1949 he moved to South America where he collaborated with the late writer Héctor Oesterheld on El Sergeanto Kirk, Ernie Pike and Ticoderoga and he created Fort Wheeling, Anna della Jungla and other well-known titles.

His most famous creation Corto Maltese was first seen in “The Ballad of the Salty Sea” in the Sgt. Kirk title, then after he returned to Italy in the early 1960s, the series debuted in earnest in the French magazine Pif in 1970 and made Pratt famous; it has been translated into more than fifteen languages and is still a best-seller in Europe. Concurrent with Corto, Pratt also created many other series, such as Scorpions of the Desert and Morgan. He wrote Indian Summer (1983) and Gaucho (1991) for artist Milo Manara and he also wrote prose novels such as Jesuit Joe (1980). Pratt is the recipient of many honors worldwide including a French knighthood; in America he was inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame in 2005. Pratt died of cancer in Switzerland in 1995.

I interviewed Dean Mullaney and Simone Castaldi by email in December 2014. _______________________________________________________

James: It is hard to overemphasize how significant I believe this project to be; Hugo Pratt is simply one of the greatest cartoonists to ever walk the Earth.

Dean: We’re all in agreement here! I first tried getting the rights in 1982, hoping to serialize the short stories in Eclipse! You live long enough…dreams sometimes do come true.

James: Pratt and Corto Maltese have been huge in Europe for many years, but are unknown here. How will IDW promote such an important series?

Dean: Introducing Hugo Pratt to an American audience presents its challenges but we are wholly dedicated to making it a success. I personally consider this one of the most important projects I’ve ever edited. Corto Maltese is the lead feature in IDW’s winter catalogue. The promotional budget for the series is easily the highest of any of our previous books. In the U.S. Hugo Pratt and Corto Maltese are primarily known by professional comics writers and artists, who have eagerly “enlisted” in spreading the word to their fans. With Patrizia Zanotti, Pratt’s longtime assistant, we are putting together a Pratt presentation at the Society of Illustrators in cooperation with the French Embassy. And Corto benefits as the premiere title in our new EuroComics imprint.

James: “Under the Sign of Capricorn” contains all of the stories that were in NBM’s The Brazilian Eagle and two of the pieces are from Banana Conga. Will forthcoming volumes include a lot of material never published in English before?

Dean:  Although Pratt’s 20-page Corto stories have been published in several formats and in seemingly arbitrary configurations such as “Banana Conga,” he envisioned them as belonging to four distinct cycles. We are publishing these stories in four collections according to Pratt’s overall design and will complete the entire series in twelve volumes.

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James: Your initial offering is actually the third book in the series. Will there be hardcover editions forthcoming at some point?

Dean: We’re beginning with the third book because the poorly-received Rizzoli edition of “The Ballad of the Salt [sic] Sea” (chronologically the second book in the series) is still in print. We’ll cycle through the rest of the books, and then double-back to present “The Early Years” and “The Ballad of the Salty Sea.” “Under the Sign of Capricorn” is a good place to start because it’s with these inter-related short stories from the early 1970s that Pratt established most of his primary themes and characters. We will also issue six oversized (close to the dimensions of Pratt’s original artwork), limited edition hardcovers, each containing the contents of two trade paperbacks. For example, the first hardcover will collect, for the first time anywhere, the entire “Caribbean Suite” (the first eleven short stories) in a single volume—something Pratt had always wanted to see. These hardcovers will include many “extras” — essays, artwork, and photographs that provide background on the stories and Pratt’s intensive historical research. The covers of the hardcovers will feature Pratt’s watercolors.

James: Yours is a beautiful packaging, done at a much more appropriate, larger scale than the NBM versions from the 1980s and the small color book done by Rizzoli a few years ago. To be fair, the earlier US editions were well-intended, I think. NBM’s efforts were the first and they are long out-of-print. The worst aspect of them was their very lackluster covers. Rizzoli’s book was actually done with the cooperation of Patrizia Zanotti, who did the color with Pratt’s blessing; the main detriments were the scale, the odd font lettering and some pixelation of the art. Now, IDW’s excellent reproduction is a clear improvement. Did you have access to stats, or scans of the original art?

Dean: Because Corto has been published around the world in various formats and sizes, both B&W and color, the digital files are of varying quality. I rejected the first set we received from Europe. Some of the artwork was blown-out, details were missing, etc.. They were a disservice to the cartoonist. Oddly, these were the identical files used by NBM in the 1980s. I’ve been wanting to edit a definitive edition of Corto Maltese for too many years to settle for sub-par reproduction. The Italian files we have for translation were made from pristine sources and we requested nothing less. All stories will be published in B&W. I specifically chose a heavyweight matte stock with a slight sheen that would give the book substance and hold the ink well, providing crisp, sharp blacks, which is essential to doing justice to Pratt’s art. Like Milton Caniff and Alex Toth, Pratt was a master at spotting blacks. It’s one of the factors that, I believe, makes his art seem better in B&W.

What’s also fascinating about Pratt is that unlike most cartoonists who develop a style early in their careers and run with for decades in often-deteriorating exactness, he (again like Toth) improved with age. Pratt stripped his storytelling down to the minimum elements necessary to tell his story effectively and with impact. There are certain panels that make you just shake your head, wondering how he decided to place his characters that specific way within the frame. An example comes to mind in “So Much for Gentlemen of Fortune,” in which he focuses a slight downshot on Corto and Ambiguity as they step on the gangway to Rasputin’s ship. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that angle in any other comic. And then there are memorable panels like the straight-on close-up of Sureshot peering through a window in “Sureshot Samba.” As both writer and artist Pratt creates images that stay with us forever.

James: Will any of the future books be in color?

Dean: Will we eventually publish them in color? Perhaps, but at first, it’s essential that we present Pratt’s artwork the way he originally intended.

James:  [Update, Feb. 2015: I generally prefer Pratt in black and white, but an exception can be seen in a book I just got in Paris, Casterman’s 2015 facsimile of the original Italian 1977 Milano Libri edition of Corto Maltese en Siberie. This book boasts some gorgeous color done by Pratt’s partner of the time, Anne Frognier, which is printed in the ben-day dots of American Sunday newspaper strips and comic books. The dots are described in a booklet that is included with the volume as the “ancestor of the pixel”; this look is explicitly referenced in the story as Corto reads a newspaper with a Geo. Herriman “Krazy Kat” strip and one must also think that Caniff was homaging his greatest influence, Caniff.]  I have not read the originals, but can you tell me what is involved in translating a work with such specificity of international and historical significance?

Simone: I do a first basic, literal translation indicating all idiomatic instances and uses that are proper to the Italian language and suggest possible ways to adapt them into English. This way Dean has a good starting point to smooth everything out in a coherent and uniform style. Then Dean and I compare solutions and make sure that the literal meaning and stylistic flavor is preserved. The challenge we face is that of rendering the peculiarities of Pratt’s style and the laconic “hard boiled” dialogue in Pratt’s stories. Corto is part a Stevensonian and part a Chandlerian character. However, his sarcasm and elliptical rhetoric have both literary and specific regional roots. As a Venetian, Pratt has absorbed the traditional quick and stinging humor of the Venetian people. Corto, although he doesn’t speak the dialect of Pratt’s hometown, is inherently Venetian.

Dean:  It’s not our place to show the reader how clever we can be. My job is to make you believe that you are reading Hugo Pratt’s dialogue in English. If I can capture the cadence and rhythm of Pratt’s narrative, then our translation is a success. It was imperative that we went back to Pratt’s original Italian scripts. Previous English editions were translated second-hand from French. It’s like the old game of telephone — the original message changes with each retelling until eventually the meaning completely veers off course. That Pratt was an inveterate researcher adds an additional layer of complexity to the translation; we need to embrace the breadth of his research in order to interpret it into English. Further, Pratt makes liberal use of literary allusions. I spent a half hour on a single panel that made no sense in the literal Italian or translated French, until I realized that he was making an oblique reference to Malraux’s “The Voices of Silence.” Patrizia has been helpful in some of these instances because she recalls discussions with Hugo Pratt about his influences.

James: I usually dislike digital lettering, but the font used here, derived from Caniff’s illuminator Frank Engli, seems to be the best possible choice in that regard.

Dean:  I created a digital font of Frank Engli’s lettering because reading “Terry and the Pirates” was what made Pratt want to become a cartoonist in the first place. Patrizia Zanotti agreed that Pratt would have been thrilled to have Frank Engli letter his work! Pratt Corto 2

James: Pratt’s collaborations with the late writer Héctor Oesterheld are among the most significant European comics to never reach our shores. Do you plan to translate them?

Dean:  I would love to eventually edit a larger library of Hugo Pratt’s work, but first things first — we need to make Corto a success on this side of the Atlantic.

James: Can you speak a little about the uniqueness of Pratt’s content in comics, for instance his critique of capitalism/imperialism? He certainly retains a powerful sense of adventure and romanticism, but at the same time deglamorizes how the western world subjugates various cultures.

Simone: Pratt’s early works like “Asso di Picche” appeared in the immediate post-war years in Italy. The Corto Maltese stories hit the Italian, and European, scene in the late sixties—after Pratt’s return from Argentina—and become very popular with the ’68 generation of student protesters and left-wing activists. This happened almost by chance as Pratt clearly belongs to an older generation, that of the pre-economic boom Italy of the ’50s. Nonetheless, incidentally, Corto reflected some of the stances of the ’68 youth and it even predated the anti-ideological movements of ’77. Although Pratt’s personal political positions became a bit more conservative later in his life, Corto’s individualism, his refusal of country, family, even personal gain, made him an ideal hero for the times. Moreover, not only can his Caribbean saga be read as the first post-colonialist stance in the comic medium, but Pratt’s demystification of WWI (especially Italy’s role in it) and the dismantling of the patriotic rhetoric tied to it are of great significance in the largely conservative Italy of the times.

Dean:  I think it’s also instructive to place Pratt’s Corto stories in context of what was happening in mainstream American comics at the time. For example, in 1967 when Pratt started “The Ballad of the Salty Sea,” even the best of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, et al was aimed at a juvenile audience.  Pratt, on the other hand, was an adult writing about mature themes in a nuanced manner for a sophisticated audience. We didn’t see anything in American comics approaching Pratt’s take on colonialism and the plight of indigenous people, for example, until Don McGregor “Panther’s Rage” in 1973, and even that remained an anomaly, whereas Pratt continued to develop his themes in Corto.

It must be remembered that Hugo Pratt’s comics reflect his own peripatetic experiences. He came by a humanist outlook honestly — from his youth in Ethiopia to his many years in Argentina. That his stories resonated with a late ’60s and early ’70s audience — and still resonate with us today — is because he writes of the universal struggle for human dignity, and did so in the context of a classic adventure narrative. Pratt Corto 4

James: What’s next for the EuroComics imprint?

Dean: For our next series we will turn to the Iberian peninsula and what many consider the most important graphic memoir comics to have ever been published in Europe—“Paracuellos,” Carlos Giménez’s poignant stories of being forced to grow up, along with thousands of other “children of the defeated,” in church-run “orphanages” in Franco’s fascist Spain. Will Eisner says, “Carlos Giménez speaks with humor and sensitivity to the human condition. His work is international.”

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(A heavily edited excerpt of this interview ran in Publishers Weekly Comics World)

James Romberger is the artist behind the critically acclaimed graphic memoir The Late Child and Other Animals (with Marguerite Van Cook); the Eisner-nominated Post York; and 7 Miles a Second (w/ D. Wojnarowicz and Van Cook).

IDW starts publishing Disney Comics

IDW sort of hinted at this back at NYCC, when they announced an Artists Editions of the Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck by Don Rosa. At the retailer meeting, Dirk Wood said, in that special way of his, something along the lines of “There will be more coming from IDW and Disney.” which at the time was a pretty clear indication there would be…more.

And so there is, and they mentioned it again in the fall but no one noticed. And now they just slyly let it out in the April Solicitations.

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Uncle Scrooge #1—GEM OF THE MONTH

Jonathan Gray, Rodolfo Cimino (w) • Romano Scarpa (a) • Giorgio Cavazzano (c)

Wak! Disney’s richest epic hero returns! In “The Wrath of Gigabeagle,” the McDuck Money Bin meets a monster-sized Beagle Boy mech!

FC • 48 pages • $3.99

Uncle Scrooge #1—Subscription Variant

Jonathan Gray, Rodolfo Cimino (w) • Romano Scarpa (a) • Derek Charm (c)

FC • 48 pages • $3.99

 

Uncle Scrooge #1—Blank Sketch Variant

Jonathan Gray, Rodolfo Cimino (w) • Romano Scarpa (a) • Blank Sketch Variant (c)

FC • 48 pages • $3.99

 

Bullet points:

  • Monthly Disney Comics are back, from IDW!
  • Fan-favorite creators: Romano Scarpa (legendary Italian Uncle Scrooge master), Jonathan Gray (Sonic the Hedgehog) and more!
  • Capcom’s recent DuckTales: Remastered video game has brought Scrooge McDuck back to Disney stardom. See what all the quacking is about!
  • 48 action-packed Pages for only $3.99!

And with this ad in Previews:
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Mickey Mouse! And Donald Duck! As noted by Graeme McMillan IDW is great at picking up licenses that their owners don’t want to put out, as they also publish Cartoon Network books, which are owned by Warner Bros.

Based on the first book, IDW seems to be taking the tried and true method of picking up some of the gazillions of pages of Italian Disney material and bringing it to the US. And everyone loves Romano Scarpa.

This leaves Marvel putting out ride-related titles such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the somewhat mysterious Joe’s Books putting out Darkwing Duck and Frozen, and Disney itself doing the odd graphic novel like Space Mountain. And no one particularly trumpeting it from the rooftops, except Fantagraphics with their awesome Barks and Gottfredson reprints. But at least IDW is picking up Walt Disney Comics and Stories right where it left off (at Kaboom) with issue #721.

Simon Pegg to co-write Star Trek 3

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It has only been over a month since Roberto Orci walked away from the director’s chair on the upcoming Star Trek threequel, with Fast & Furious series director Justin Lin taking over the job not long after.

With Orci’s script for the film (which he co-wrote with John D. Payne and Patrick McKay) being tossed, Paramount needed to find a replacement, and fast, if the studio planned on making their 2016 Anniversary release date.

They didn’t have to look too far, as Simon Pegg (Montgomery Scott/Scotty in the current series) will be teaming up with Doug Jung (Banshee) on a new iteration of the script.

Pegg is no stranger to these duties, having teamed up with Edgar Wright to co-write Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End. With that pedigree, this is a definite upgrade for the series and for the first time since just before the release of Star Trek Into Darkness, my interest is piqued.

This isn’t the first time that a cast-member has jumped into Trek’s big screen creative end, as he’ll join Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner and Jonathan Frakes, who have all taken a swing at a Star Trek film of their own (though in director duties, but Nimoy and Shatner did co-write the stories for The Voyage Home and The Final Frontier respectively).

With any luck, this means Pegg will also have some supervisory involvement in any upcoming tie-in comics produced by IDW in the same way Orci did for the previous array of miniseries.

Star Trek 3 is set to release on July 8, 2016.

Farrago teams with IDW for free comics

 

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WinterWorld_01_x500  ZombisVsRobots_00_x500

 

In the post Amazology world. many digital comics apps and companies have sprung up trying to stake their claim in this growing world. Farrago Comics is an app for iPad and android that offers a range of free comics. As suggested by their motto “Comic Book Freedom!” the idea is to provide a manageable app for sampling and reading—which isn’t a bad one given today’s crazy quilt of digital platforms. Revenue is provided by ads, as it is with many apps. Up until now they were offering mostly Golden Age and indie comics, but they’ve just sign up with IDW to offer some fan fave #1 from the likes of Steve Niles, Ben Templesmith, Jonathan Maberry, Chris Roberson, Ashley Wood, etc.

Here’s the whole list:

• 30 Days of Night #1
• Mystery Society #1
• Winterworld #1
• Zombies vs Robots #0
On Farrago: January 21, 2014
• Groom Lake #1
• The Last Fall #1
• V-Wars #1
On Farrago: January 28, 2014
• Night of 1,000 Wolves #1
• Pantheon #1
• Memorial #1

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“We are thrilled to team up with such a mighty force in the comics universe as IDW, ” says Martin Fleischmann, CEO and Co-founder of Farrago Comics in a statement. “We believe making a large set of great comics and graphic novels free and easy to find in one place helps eliminate the entry barrier to a medium that everyone can (and once did) enjoy.”  Matt Lieberman, Chief Devolopment Officer and Co-founder of Farrago Comics, added “The 10 comics IDW picked as their first to offer on Farrago add a veritable super sampler to our catalog, sure to delight newcomers and aficionados alike.”

According to IDW’s VP Digital Publishing & Business Development, Jeff Webber, they’re eager to test this model. “This is an excellent model to attract new readers to our comics and to comics in general.”

Farrago has been in beta for four months, which they stress test the reader experience and trackable ad counts. I’m told they have more deals in the works, so we’ll see if it catches on.

IDW signs with WME for representation

IDW Entertainment, the production arm of the company, has signed with the WME talent agency for representation. WME will represent all film and television projects for IDW, which was formerly repped by CAA. THR has a bit more on the deal:

The agency will represent all film and TV projects for the company, a division of comic book publisher IDW Publishing. IDW Entertainment was launched in 2013 and currently is in development on adapting bestseller V-Warswith Dexter’s Tim Schlattman,Pantheon with Michael Chiklis, Douglas AdamsDirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agencywith Chronicle’s Max Landis, Life Undeadwith Agents of SHIELD’s Paul Zbyszewski andBrooklyn Animal Control, from Splinter Cell’sJ.T. Petty.

“IDW Entertainment’s representation with WME aligns our upcoming projects with an unparalleled roster of talent while ensuring we continue to release the most creative and exciting entertainment possible,” IDW Entertainment president David Ozer said in a statement.


OF all the prokects on that list, the ones we’d most like to see are Brooklyn animal Control because animals and Dirk Gently, which was already adapted into a brief BBC series starring Neil Gaiman Stephen Mangan.

THR inadvertently selected a rather ironic cover to illustrate their story: The Star Trek/Apes crossover is a Boom co-production and features the licensed comics that make up much of of IDW’s output—which makes developing its own material a bit more difficult. For instance, Brooklyn Animal Control, by J.T. Petty (Splinter Cell, Bloody Chester) and artist Stephen Thompson (Star Trek: New Frontier) is a digital release. However, the acquisition of Top Shelf should help with that end of things.

UPDATED: IDW acquires Top Shelf, from Alan Moore to Zander Cannon

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Updated: Chris Staros responded to my enquiries about Alan Moore with the following:

“I had extensive talks with Alan — as well as our other creators — about the deal, and knowing that I would be his single point of contact for all current and future works to be published under the Top Shelf imprint, he’s okay with everything moving forward as is. For me, being that Alan was the reason I got into comics in the first place — as it was V for Vendetta that gave me the epiphany, and showed me the potential of the medium of comics — to go from one of his greatest fans, to his publisher on From Hell, League, etc., has been the greatest honor of my life. So to continue this relationship, as well as our co-publishing partnership with our great friends at Knockabout in the UK, is something I cherish, and am extremely proud of.”

Well, bam, 2015 is off to a rousing start, with news breaking this morning that San Diego’s IDW has acquired Atlanta/PDX’s Top Shelf, with Top Shelf’s Chris Staros to remain as Editor in Chief, while partner Brett Warnock retires from comics to run a food and nature blog. Top Shelf will remain as a separate line at IDW, while Leigh Walton, Chris Ross and Zac Boone will all stay on at the new imprint.

Top Shelf has a backlist that includes everything from Jeff Lemire’s beloved in Canada Essex Trilogy to some of Jeffrey Brown’s best books to the civil rights juggernaut March to James Kochalka to Jess Fink to….well just about everything. The film The Surrogates was based on the Robert Venditti-written Top Shelf book. Perhaps most famously, they are the main US publisher for new Alan Moore. But more about that below.

Most aspects of the deal—just about everything except the terms—are covered in a very thorough FAQ included in the PR, from the fact that Bill Schanes brokered the deal to Top Shelf’s books being warehoused by Diamond right alongside IDWs.

But here’s The Beat’s own four hours of sleep FAQ:

downloadIs this a good thing?
Hard to see how it isn’t. Top Shelf gets some capital and IDW gets market share that will almost certainly boost it permanently into fourth place on the Diamond charts. It was obvious to observers that Top Shelf had settled down a bit in recent years; their output remains top notch but running a small indie press leads to a lot of wear and tear. Hopefully I’d expect the Top Shelf booth to remain its own thing—if the fez and lights set goes down, I’m protesting.

As long as Staros remains editor in chief, the line should stay the same. Staros and Warnock forged very strong relationships with a lot of indie cartoonists when they were up and coming—and those relationships are part of what IDW bought. That said, some creators were moving their backlist to other publishers—Matt Kindt took all his books to Dark Horse, for example. I’m guessing that were he still at IDW/Top Shelf, the new entity would have been a more attractive offering.

What about Alan Moore?
That said, Top Shelf is the only company besides Avatar that’s been able to work with Alan Moore in the US, and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books not to mention the backlist titan From Hell are like printing money. Moore had a reversion clause in his contract—if Top Shelf was sold, he could take his books elsewhere. While Top Shelf would still be an attractive take over without Moore, with Moore it’s still a license to print money, and it’s a certainty that the acquisition had to be vetted with Moore before it went through. Top Shelf, along with Knockabout, Moore’s UK publisher, has been a strong publishing partner for Moore for more than a decade—the handling of Lost Girls being a sterling example.

Interestingly, LoeG’s acquiring editor, Scott Dunbier actually works at IDW now, although my understanding is that the two are no longer close. However, that Ted Adams is able to work with the one person possibly more cranky than Alan Moore, Dave Sim, shows that he has some serious negotiating skills.

All that said, as I’ve pointed out many times, just treating Moore with respect as an author would have stopped all his problems with DC dead in their tracks. Ted Adams is nothing if not a student of history, and as long as Staros stays the Moore whisperer all should be well.

As I post this, neither IDW nor Top Shelf had responded to inquiries about the Moore mater.

What can IDW do for Top Shelf?
IDW already has a bunch of imprints, Yoe Books, Library of American Comics and so on, but despite some strong books, they have never been in the forefront of creator owned series. A lot of Top Shelf books are not giant money makers, but in today’s comics market, selling books by Jeffrey Brown, Alan Moore and John Lewis shouldn’t require decathlon-like exertion. Alan Moore’s DC books are backlist perennials, which shouldn’t From Hell be one too?

Top Shelf is one of the longest running “boutique” indie publishers, and one of the largest, bu in a world of razor thin margins, that still doesn’t men anyone, publisher or creator was rolling in the dough. I predicted we’d see some consolidation in 2015—this isn’t the lineup I was expecting, but it makes 100% sense.

“The acquisition of Top Shelf is a milestone for IDW,” said Ted Adams, IDW CEO and publisher. “We looked a very long time for a company that would complement our own publishing line-up, and in Top Shelf we found the ideal match. The addition of Top Shelf’s library further positions IDW’s leadership role among the top powerhouses in comics.”

Top Shelf will remain a distinct imprint within IDW and co-founder Chris Staros will join the company as Editor-in-Chief, Top Shelf Productions. Top Shelf’s fans can expect the same independent editorial approach that has garnered industry-wide awards and made it an envy among its peers.

“IDW is committed to preserving and growing the Top Shelf brand, which we’ve long admired” said IDW president and COO Greg Goldstein. “Chris and his team have built a great working relationship with creators, fans, and retailers alike, and IDW will work diligently to expand Top Shelf’s publishing capabilities and market reach while further developing those relationships.”

Founded in 1997, Top Shelf Productions offers a broad library of comic books and graphic novels from dozens of the industry’s top independent creators. Following the acquisition, Top Shelf’s headquarters will remain in Marietta, GA.

“Top Shelf and IDW complement each other perfectly,” said Top Shelf Productions co-founder and publisher Chris Staros. “We both started around the same time, and when I would watch IDW over the years, as a fellow publisher, I’d see them making smart move after smart move. Now I’m extremely excited to combine their talents and resources with Top Shelf’s award-winning literary approach to comics. And believe it or not, the idea to join forces hit us both at exactly the same time. Last year, as I was about to pitch Ted and Greg this ‘crazy’ idea, they approached me to suggest the same thing! How’s that for a good omen? Together, we’re going to be able to publish some incredible work. I’m really looking forward to this.”

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

FAQs

Will Top Shelf retain its own brand identity?
Absolutely. It will remain a distinct imprint within the IDW family of books.

How will IDW Publishing’s new ownership role directly impact Top Shelf?
IDW’s main role will be the support and management of Top Shelf’s infrastructure — production, sales, marketing and promotional initiatives. IDW will also provide additional funding to secure new breakout projects so that Top Shelf can direct their full attention to producing fan-favorite award-winning books.

IDW will use its 15 years of publishing experience to further enhance Top Shelf’s incredible line-up and ensure that the backlist is always available to an expanded retailer and consumer base.

What role will Chris Staros have going forward at Top Shelf?
Chris Staros will join the company as Editor-in-Chief of Top Shelf Productions and will expand his role as one of the most innovative editors, marketers and new talent scouts in the industry. Therefore, Top Shelf’s fans can expect the same independent editorial approach that has yielded first-rate books and garnered industry-wide awards.

What about the rest of The Top Shelf staff?
While Chris’ long-time friend and business partner, Brett Warnock, has decided to retire from the world of comics and explore business opportunities through his newly launched food and nature blog, the rest of the Top Shelf staff will remain in place to continue Top Shelf’s indy-focused operations: Leigh Waltonas Top Shelf’s Publicist & Marketing Director; Chris Ross as Lead Designer & Digital Director; and Zac Boone as Warehouse Manager.

How does this acquisition affect Top Shelf’s independent creators?
Top Shelf publishing agreements will be honored in full, with all creator rights and deal points continuing as they are currently written. IDW will also be able to ensure that Top Shelf’s extensive catalog stays in print, and all creators receive royalties on the solid schedule IDW is known for.

How will this transition affect retailers?
We anticipate a very smooth transition, as both IDW and Top Shelf use Diamond Comic Distributors and Diamond Book Distributors as their exclusive distribution partners for both the comic book specialty market and book market. The entire Top Shelf inventory is already being warehoused by Diamond in the same location as the IDW inventory.

How did the transaction come about?
IDW has been interested in pursuing an acquisition(s) for some time and earlier in 2014 retained industry veteran Bill Schanes (former VP of purchasing for Diamond) as a consultant to thoroughly investigate acquisition opportunities. Top Shelf, as it turned out, was by far the best of these and Bill facilitated the “matchmaking” early on. Once the companies got to know each other better, the rest was, as they say, history.

 

The IDW Discovery Sale is a Hidden Gem Amongst a Slew of Discounts

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By: Alexander Jones

We just reported on a huge Boxing Day sale across Comixology, but there is one $9.99 collection to rule them all (aside from the Star Wars sale today–that thing is crazy!) The IDW Recent Hits/Discovery sale features a total of 20 great comics for half of the price. The best part, is that many will get a chance to try out some brand new titles that they have likely never read before. The sale is through Comixology only, and features a variety of great first issues that should leave fans frothing at the mouth to read more. Hurry and grab these books as they are only available till the 1st of January. Those wanting to venture out and try some titles that are outside of the mainstream without being too far removed from licensing can find some great selection here. Here is a breakdown of the issues in the collection:

  1. Angry Birds/Transformers Issue #1 Then $1.99 Now $0.99
  2. Cartoon Network: Super Secret Crisis War! Issue #1Then $1.99 Now $0.99
  3. Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate Issue #1Then $1.99 Now $0.99
  4. Edward Scissorhands Issue #1Then $1.99 Now $0.99
  5. Judge Dredd: Anderson, Psi-Division Issue #1Then $1.99 Now $0.99
  6. Little Nemo: Return To Slumberland Issue #1Then $1.99 Now $0.99
  7. Littlest Pet Shop Issue #1Then $1.99 Now $0.99
  8. Ragnarok Issue #1 Then $1.99 Now $0.99
  9. Rot & Ruin Issue #1Then $1.99 Now $0.99
  10. Samurai Jack Issue #1Then $1.99 Now $0.99
  11. Skylanders Issue #1 Then $1.99 Now $0.99
  12. Star Slammers: Re-mastered! Issue #1 Then $1.99 Now $0.99
  13. Star Trek: Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever Issue #1Then $1.99 Now $0.99
  14. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters Issue #1 Then $1.99 Now $0.99
  15. The Bigger Bang Issue #1Then $1.99 Now $0.999
  16. The October Faction Issue #1 Then $1.99 Now $0.99
  17. Transformers vs. G.I. Joe Issue #1Then $1.99 Now $0.99
  18. Transformers: Drift: Empire of Stone Issue #1 Then $1.99 Now $0.99
  19. V-Wars Issue #1 Then $1.99 Now $0.99
  20. Winterworld Issue #1 Then $1.99 Now $0.99

Don Rosa’s Life and Time of Scrooge McDuck gets Artist’s Edition from IDW

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An oversize artist’s edition of Don Rosa’s devoutly worshipped The Life and Time of Scrooge McDuck?

You’ll have to wait until April, true believers.

Rosa’s epic biography of heroic skinflint McDuck is considered a modern classic, and in Scandinavia, it is mandatory for homes to have a small shrine to it.* This volume will take a proud place in those shrines, I’m sure.

“Don Rosa’s stories are as fresh and entertaining today as they were when I first read them 25 years ago,” said IDW Special Projects Director, Scott Dunbier. “They are timeless treasures.”

This Artist’s Edition will measure 14” x 20” and come packed with 160 pages of high quality scans of the first 6 chapters of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, covers, and layouts by Rosa. Two additional volumes will complete this epic saga with release dates still to be announced. This Artist’s Edition will set the precedent for something truly special for Disney, and Art fans.

Look for the newest entry in the Artist’s Edition library April 2015 available through your local comic shop or from IDW’s webstore: http://www.idwpublishing.com/shop/

 

* Only a small exaggeration.

IDW to collect Simonon’s Star Slammers

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The other day we mentioned a bunch of reprints coming out from Dover, several of them from the long ago era when Marvel published all kinds of original graphic novels and creator owned series, mostly under the guidance of Archie Goodwin at Epic. Well here’s another projects being brought back to light, Star Slammers by Walter Simonson, originally published by Marvel in 1983 as a graphic novel then a five issue mini series. As the title may indicate, this is not a deep think book—a lethal team of mercenaries kick the shit out of folks—but it IS Simonson at the peak of his powers. And that’s some peak. (It should be noted that peak has lasted until the present day.) Star Slammers: The Complete Collection will also include Simonson’s original notes for the series—which started like as a class project at the Rhode Island School of Design—with more than 60 pages of never-before-seen work.

The first printing will include a bound in signature plate with Simonson’s muuch-loved dinosaur signature. and it comes at NO EXTRA COST. This is our lucky day.

IDW to publish print version of D4ve with new Fiona Staples cover

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Ryan Ferrier and Valentin Ramon’s D4ve, a Monkeybrian digital original about a middle aged robot who yearns for one last battle, is coming to print from IDW in February, with a new cover by Fiona Staples. Nice, eh? PR below:

The partnership between IDW Publishing and Monkeybrain has brought some of the most critically acclaimed digital comic-book series to an entirely new readership, and both are pleased to welcome another to the printed page: D4VE.
 
A war for Earth was fought and the robots have won but the results are far less “brave new world” and more of the “same old, same old.” Starting February 2015, fans of print comics will get the opportunity to meet D4VE, a great robot war hero who now is trapped behind a desk at a soul-sucking day job.
 
D4VE is the brainchild of series writer Ryan Ferrier and artist Valentin Ramon. In the five-issue series, D4VE battles traffic, mortgage payments, and the mundane when all he wants to do is battle monsters like in his glory days. But those days are gone…right? Little does D4VE know that something big is going to help snap him out of this mid-life: crisis.
 
“D4VE is a story so close to our hearts, and to be able to bring our special brand of bizarre to the monthly print market is, frankly, insanely freaking cool,” said series writer, Ferrier. “Monkeybrain blessed us with the opportunity to tell this story digital-first, and IDW is the perfect home—one built on unique and daring storytelling—for our madness to reach even more readers.

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We’d have to invent a new word to express our excitement, so we did: we are totally superextribbulated for D4VE to come out through IDW.”
 
“Having D4VE find a new audience in print through IDW is a huge honor,” said series artist, Ramon. “They are a publisher that inspires so much of what we have aimed to do with our story—pushing boundaries and expectations, featuring characters you can connect with. We hope our readers love D4VE as much as we loved creating it.”
 
Come early 2015, you can check out the five-issue miniseries that Bloody Disgusting calls “a master class in robotic mid-life crisis… ripe with laughs” and featuring a first-issue cover by Fiona Staples (Saga).

Thrillbent teams with IDW for print collections

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The Thrillbent digital comics imprint created by Mark Waid and John Rogers is coming to print from IDW, home to many a comics imprint. Starting next year, IDW will bring out print collection of Thrillbent titles, starting with Empire Volume Two and Insufferable,

“I love print comics,” said Waid in a statement. “While we have always proudly been digital-first, print was always in Thrillbent’s business plan–but for a start-up company like ours, it was cost-prohibitive. Once we proved our commitment to ongoing content–Thrillbent currently hosts literally hundreds of new comics, with more added every week–we were courted by several print publishers looking to partner. IDW was the clear choice–its track record for innovation is unbeatable and undeniable.”

Empire Volume Two is a sequel to the Eisner-nominated series co-created by Waid and artist Barry Kitson from 2000, which Waid describes as “the single most-asked about project in my career–‘When’s Empire coming back?’ is the one question I know I’ll hear at every convention or store signing”. Waid and Kitson have joined forces once again in 2014 to deliver new installments that continue the saga of Golgoth, a remorseless villain whose plans for world domination have won him the planet Earth… and made him the target of every inhabitant. As a kickoff to the larger Thrillbent partnership, IDW will produce an all-new edition of the long-sold-out Empire Volume One and launch it just ahead of Empire v2. Both books will debut next spring.

Also by Waid, with co-creator Peter Krause, Insufferable is a series that explores what happens when a crime fighter’s sidekick grows up to be less a hero constantly at war with his mentor–and what it would take to draw the two back together again for one last adventure. Krause, also Waid’s partner in crime on the 2007 series Irredemable, provides the artwork on this unique look at the superhero genre.

“In addition to being one of the best comic-book writers in modern times, Mark Waid has also proven himself with Thrillbent to be one of the smarter forward-thinkers in comics,” said Chris Ryall, IDW’s Chief Creative Officer/Editor-in-Chief. “We’re very happy to be partnered with Mark, John Rogers and all the other great Thrillbent creators to help bring their work to comic fans in this way.”

Interview: Michael McDermott on Cooking His “Imaginary Drugs”

I was lucky enough to come across the Kickstarter for indy anthology Imaginary Drugs earlier this year. I received my PDF copy a few months ago and it was an entertaining, eclectic piece of comic book entertainment with a wide variety of talented writers, artists, colorists and letterers. IDW even ended up picking it up and is releasing an expanded version of the softcover in January. Here’s the solicit for that:

Imaginary Drugs is a 208 page comics anthology coming from IDW in January and is currently available for preorder: TPB • FC • $24.99 • 208 pages • ISBN: 978-1-63140-198-5. After running a successful Kickstarter campaign in January of this year and printing a 700 copy self-published print run, the creators behind the endeavor are teaming up with IDW Publishing to provide Imaginary Drugs to comic shops, bookstores and finer bodegas the world over. The book will also feature an additional 40 pages of brand new comics content exclusive to the IDW release and not available in the self pubbed volume.
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Art by Jonathan Brandon Sawyer and Christine Larsen.

I wanted to learn more about the trip of Imaginary Drugs from its beginning to today, so I spoke to one of the men behind it, Michael McDermott. I talked to him about everything from his beginning with the Small Press Commandos community, the creation of Imaginary Drugs, Kickstarter success and the upcoming release from IDW. Enjoy this interview with writer and editor Michael McDermott.

How did you get involved in FUBAR?

YEARS ago, when ComicSpace was a new thing, I had worked on a pitch for an ongoing 2 story split book called Banned in Japan.  NC Winters gave us an amazing cover, Felipe Cuhna handled art duties on half the book titled ‘The Bombed Squad’ and this dude Jeff McComsey handled the art on the other half called “Murder Culture” (I actually repurposed the concept for an Imaginary Drugs short with the same name).  Pitched around, heard no word, found McComsey a while later via social media, saw his call for short stories for Volume 2 of this FUBAR thing he was assembling and the rest is history.  FUBAR was really a huge blueprint for me when it came to putting together Imaginary Drugs.

Commandos

Art by Steve Becker.

Do you know how the Small Press Commandos came about?

I THINK it was started by the relentless core group of indie creators that had put out the first FUBAR Volume: European Theatre of The Damned, and were then working with 215 Ink.  I think I stumbled onto it around the time I started working with FUBAR and perhaps it’s best its true origins lie slightly shrouded in mystery.  It was a tremendous resource at the time for someone who was interested in getting their work into the hands of an eager audience.  A lot of my peers in the group have really blossomed over the last few years and it’s exciting to see the likes of Jason Copland and Christopher Peterson go on to Marvel or Dark Horse gigs.  Or to watch the terrifying Kickstarter success of FUBAR: Mother Russia campaign.

How does such a close-knit group help you market each other’s comics?

It’s nice because when you promote someone else’s work in the group, you’re usually literally endorsing the product they’ve put together and not just recycling some spammy PR release.  We’ve probably watched the project grow through art or pitch postings so we’re really pulling for a lot of what comes out of the community.  Rising tide lifts all ships and all.  Seeing what some of our fellow Commandos are capable of and achieving also fuels the fire under our own asses as creators to KEEP WORKING as well, I’d think.

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“Pretty Lights” by Christine Larsen.

Do you think that community played a part in getting everyone, including artists, to work for royalties instead of upfront pay?

Well, it definitely helps, because again, you trust a lot of the people and the work they’re capable of producing.  You’ve been seeing them grind for years in some cases.  When it came to Imaginary Drugs, really Jeff McClelland and Christine Larsen are the other two legs of our creatively unstable tripod of power.  They signed on to ID when a lot of creators didn’t have the faith.  They offered up content, Kickstarter rewards, design work… On my creative end, Jonathan Brandon Sawyer and K Michael Russell were the first to offer up work for stories.  We actually agreed upon a page rate/backend split for our work, but these guys were huge in making ID a reality.  Once the Kickstarter launched and we could show some audience interest and financial backing it opened us up to a lot more creative opportunities for ourselves and other creators we’d eventually bring on board for the anthology.  THEN, when you announce IDW is publishing your book, yeah, opens up a whole new avenue of creative legitimacy and interested parties.

What do you think of Kickstarter as not just a fundraiser but a marketing tactic?

Well, I can definitely give you a more informed opinion in a month or so once our preorders close on ID, but I can’t see how it hurts!  It’s empowering having this independent stable of interested consumers willing to financially back your creative endeavors. No matter what, throughout the entire process of bringing Imaginary Drugs to fictional life, I’ve kept my loyalty firmly focused on our Kickstarter backers. Treat them right, don’t suck, and you have a fanbase of rabid supporters that you want to create for.  Seriously, my dealings with most backers has been purely positive and inspiring when need be.  An anthology like this is a lot of work, and it’s awesome to hear from people who appreciate the effort and the fruits of the labor.

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$10 is a low price point for a 64-page comic on Kickstarter, let alone the 160 page one it turned into. How did you decide on that price point?

Well, originally we were shooting for a 56-page anthology.  As we added stretch goals and the beast grew, it didn’t dawn on me to sell out the $10 reward tier and raise the price point until much later in the campaign.  So… bad math 101!  Once we got the IDW publishing deal in place, it took a lot of the stress off of us mass distribution wise and allowed us to focus solely on making the Kickstarter version of the book and rewards as ass-kicking as humanly possible.

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“21” by Eric Esquivel and Will Perkins.

How did ID land at IDW?

On a leaf (You… I know you know what I’m talking about).  Hahahaha, you want me to reveal my secret pitch process?!  Raise $13,000 on Kickstarter, email the people you’d think you should email about such a thing becoming a reality and see if they think they can move your product on a larger scale.  I was very careful about who I invited to work on ID.  I wasn’t just looking for talent, but people that’d pick up the vibe the title was laying down.  I think our finished product was enticing and competent enough to turn the heads it needed to turn.  My advice for anyone looking to attempt such an anthology in the future, from your creators to your legal team: Draft. Strong.
Was the intention always to get picked up by a big publisher?
Nope, but I think anybody aware of the financial realities of creating comics ultimately wants some of that sweet, sweet, big publisher or work for hire money.  It was a thrilling surprise when Chris Ryall at IDW expressed interest in publishing our book.  The analogy I make is I went from having to sell Imaginary Drugs at the bottom of my driveway at Mike’s Comic Stand to guaranteed access to every comic shop with a Previews catalogue.  IDW is an innovative, forward thinking publisher comfortable operating outside of the box with a proven track record of delivering quality material to retailers and fans for over 15 years.  It was almost a no-brainer to let them handle the distribution of ID and see what we could learn from the process.

Why do you think anthologies on Kickstarter have been so successful, both in raising money and getting deals at publishers like IDW?

As a reader, I like the idea of getting a finite product.  Creators aren’t going to ask me to invest in their 80-issue epic, aren’t going to ask me to blindly trust their ability to have it all make sense by issue #25.  Nope, it’s get on the stage, entertain me and leave me wanting more.  An anthology is a much safer way for a reader to test the waters on talent they may be unfamiliar with or unsure of.  As for publishers, again, it’s probably a safer way to test the waters with newer talent and see if there’s an audience response to any particular work.  Pure speculation on my end however.  I think for Imaginary Drugs it was all in the title.  How could you not want that TITLE alone on your publishing roster?

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Art by Jonathan Brandon Sawyer.

How did you decide on that title?

Pure shamanic inspiration.  I was totally digging on the old Milligan/Ewins/McCarthy Strange Days mini from Eclipse at the time I was brainstorming for ID and was searching for a title as resonant as theirs.  Something a kid could find in a long box 15 years from now, rightly assume was dangerous for him to read and immediately purchase with malevolent glee.  All the best comics were comics I shouldn’t have been reading as a kid.  I wanted to dip my toes into the waters of the long corruptive legacy of sequential storytelling and felt the title played to my needs.

By telling all the crazy stories in Imaginary Drugs, you’ve already built a big, interesting world. Do you want to tell more stories in it, either with another anthology or as a series about some of the characters?

I went into ID writing every short as a killer pitch.  I’d love to be able to expand or tell more stories about any of the properties in ID and I’m sure a lot of our creators are game for their properties as well.  There are years worth of backstory and material for damn near any story I wrote and yes, there’s a fictional multiverse in which all the tales in Imaginary Drugs exist in my head.  We’re creeping towards her eventual release in January ’15, and would LOVE to revisit the anthology as a monthly 32 page maxiseries/ongoing.  I’ve done a story with JM Ringuet for our IDW version of the book that is screaming for more room to tell the tale.
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How is Kickstarter fulfillment going?

I think it’s going well but the ultimate opinion lies with our backers.  As you mentioned, we wound up with our Kicksrtarter/self published version of Imaginary Drugs coming in at 160 pages.  The vast, vast majority of backers made out like bandits, because well, they’re getting a 160-page full size tpb shipped for $10. That’s an absolutely insane deal even if you think the work sucks. We’ve got about 400 of our 650 rewards shipped and I’m regularly getting the rest out.  I swear to god, out of those 400 I have not had one single complaint about product, shipping (every comic bubble wrapped, taped, boxed, stuffed… I’m anal) or damages. We blew our April estimated delivery date… adding 100 + pages of comics that needed to be created in order to make it into the book knocked us off target a bit… but I’m pretty damn proud of what we’ve been able to deliver to our backers.  We’re not some low level throw-away-amateur Kickstarter hour over here.  The creators I have lined up, Jeff, Christine, Jonathan, K Michael, Jeff McComsey, Shawn Aldridge, Christopher Peterson, Stacy Lee, Alexis Zirrit, Eric Esquivel, Chris Lewis, Eryk Donovan, Aluisio Santos, Mark Bertolini, Rafer Roberts, Will Perkins, Magnus Aspli, Fabian Rangel Jr., Ryan Cody and MORE have been grinding out their own indie comics the last few years. I’ve watched them. They’ve earned their spots in Imaginary Drugs and they helped make our book and our deal a reality. They are my Spiritual Warriors (Jodo… Stand UP!).

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“Old Blood/New Star.” Story by Michael McDermott. Art by JM Ringuet.

What did you learn, about the industry and yourself, as you’ve been in the process of getting a graphic novel published by a Big Five publisher?

Well, Alan Moore taught me to always get a lawyer, even when you think you don’t need one. I’ve learned that my editor David Hedgecock, is a bad, bad man with immaculate taste in comics and a similarly driven lunatic love for them as myself. We both can trace the blame for our respective pursuits in the graphic medium back to Drew Hayes’ Starting Notes column at the beginning of every issue of Poison Elves. And that’s weird. I’ve learned That Chris Ryall is a fearless, balls to the wall leader that will shock you with what he’s willing to push to get published… CBLDF fo’ life. I’ve learned if you’re generally awesome, unselfish, dedicated and relentless, you can get a lot of things done, catch the attention of people that can make serious things happen and turn your chemically fueled fever dreams into cold hard comics reality.
And most importantly… and this is for ANYONE interested in making comics… go out and create them. Make them real. Have people work to show. Find your peers that are interested in doing the same. Work together, grow together… get books made. Viva la Revolucion!
And find at least one brilliant copy editor smarter than you that you can blame any mistakes on. Jeff McClelland is taken.

 

 

Imaginary Drugs is now available for pre-order, and will come out in January. I’m high on it, and you should be, too.

NYCC’14: IDW Brings Chris Carter’s Other Show to Comics

By David Nieves

IDW dropped a new title on X-Files fans today. Chris Carter’s other show Millennium will be coming to IDW in comics form. Written by Joe Harris, who also pens IDW’s X-Files: Season 10 and featuring interior art by Colin Lorimer, series creator Carter will reprise his “Season 10″ role as executive producer for this mini series. The show, which lasted three seasons, follows Seattle-based ex-FBI agent Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) as he tracked down serial killers using his paranormal ability to see through the eyes of murderers.

In an interview today Joe expressed his motivations on the new series, “Millennium” has a ton of great ideas that were never fully explored, along with shifting focuses of the show itself.”

The five-part mini series will spin out of the events of X-Files #17 and will have a lot of interaction between Mulder and Black, much like the TV show spun out of the X-Files show.

Millennium #1 will be available in early 2015 from IDW Publishing.