IDW publisher, president and CCO Chris Ryall is stepping down to start his own publishing venture.
The new business — World of Syzygy — will be “a new storytelling venture focused on the disparate worlds and characters that he brought to life at IDW Publishing.” Also involved, many IDW creators, including Ashley Wood.
Ryall will remain in an advisory role at IDW, including staying on as an executive producer on the Locke & Key series at Netflix, and as the editor on any Locke & Key comics going forward.
IDW will announce a new management team in the near future, according to chairman Howard Jonas.
The story, first reported by THR, came out a bit sooner than Ryall expected, he tweeted.
Well. This news is a bit sooner than we'd all intended–so if I didn't get a chance to notify some of you directly as I'd hoped, apologies–but hey, there's always a big announcement on Tuesday leading into #SDCC, right? https://t.co/BGreP0G8zq
— Chris Ryall (@chris_ryall) July 22, 2020
“Change is often hard, and I will miss this extended family I have worked with for more than 15 years,” said Ryall in a statement. “In the past year alone, we brought on some amazing hires, expanded the scope of many of the departments, and re-focused the foundation of the business to best support the integrated multi-media company that IDW has become. Our collective success with the entertainment team on ‘Locke & Key’ has been a crowning moment for the entire company. I’m so proud of this special place and the incredible people who work here. I know that I leave IDW perfectly poised for continued success.”
“After the wonderful experience this past year serving as an Executive Producer on ‘Locke & Key’ and working with the amazingly creative team that brought the show to life, I look forward to bringing exciting new stories into the world through many different storytelling forms,” Ryall added. “I’m thrilled to be back working alongside Ashley Wood, as well as other creators to come, in developing interesting projects for our World of Syzygy venture.”
Howard Jonas, IDW’s chairman, said, “Chris has been instrumental in IDW Publishing’s success, and we thank him for the passion and commitment he brought to the company. We wish him all the best in his new ventures. With Chris’s departure, IDW will be restructuring and expanding its operations, and we will name a new management team very soon.”
Chris Ryall worked at IDW for more than 14 years, although with some comings and going in the last few. He joined the company as editor-in-chief in 2004, a role he filled with a bounty of successes, including Locke & Key, IDW’s various Hasbro licenses, Darwyn Cooke’s Parker books, and so on. In 2018, Ryall left to join Skybound, Robert Kirkman’s company. However, following former IDW publisher Ted Adams’s departure in 2018 to form Clover Press, Ryall returned to fill the IDW publisher/president role in late 2018.
His most recent stint at the company resulted in many achievements, including last years company-leading 15 Eisner Award nominations, a transition to Penguin Random House for book market distribution, a publishing pact with the Smithsonian Institution, and a major program to produce Spanish-language graphic novels in North America.
As noted in the PR, Chris Ryall was also a writer for IDW, including Zombies vs Robots, with artist Ashley Wood, now in development at Sony. He also helped with the transition as IDW moved into TV production.
However, IDW has also been losing money in several divisions, as revealed by SEC filings. According to ICv2, there were several other behind the scenes changes at IDW in recent days, including the departure of Interim CEO Marc Knoller, who headed up IDW’s parent company, IDW Media Holdings. He’s being replaced by CFO Ezra Rosensaft, and controller Brooke Feinstein, will take over as Chief Accounting Officer.
IDW chairman Jonas, the biggest financial stakeholder in the company, also shored up the overall business by selling off CTM Media Group, a travel brochure printing company, to himself.
IDW Media Holdings is selling one of its divisions and will retire debt in the process, the company announced. The holding company has agreed to sell brochure distribution and marketing company CTM Media Group Inc. to IDW Chairman and largest shareholder Howard Jonas in exchange for $3.75 million of the $5.0 million IDW owes Jonas. The remaining $1.25 million will be converted to Class B common stock.
As a travel-based business, CTM wouldn’t have fared well during COVID, and the move allowed Jonas to transfer more cash to IDW.
Whatever the behind-the-scenes financial moves, Ryall’s drama-free tenure at IDW was a key component of its success in that period, and his countless contacts in every level of the business should give World of Syzygy a good start in the uncharted waters of 2020 and beyond. It already has a website and a logo!