There have been questions surrounding IDW Publishing this year. They mainly stem from what the company’s future would be after losing the Transformers and G.I. Joe licenses early this year. This was major news for the publisher, as along with My Little Pony (a license which is still with IDW), Transformers and G.I. Joe are some of IDW’s biggest-selling titles. What would the publisher do to replace the toy-shaped hole in its publishing lineup?
At New York Comic Con this past Sunday, IDW brought to together some of its top talent to answer that question. The panel featured Sofia Warren, Kevin Scott, Scott Dunbier, Eric Burnham, Stephen Graham Jones, Hayden Sherman and Scott Snyder.
Scott Dunbier, best known as the architect behind IDW’s Artist’s Edition line of books showed off pages from the just released Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man Artist’s Edition, and gave details about the next entry in the series, Kevin Nowlan’s Marvel Heroes Artist’s Edition, which will feature, among other pieces of Kevin Nowlan art from his Marvel years, an entire 62 page Man-Thing story written by Steve Gerber that Nowlan started working on in 1986 and finished in 2010. Announced earlier at NYCC, fan will finally get an Artist’s Edition featuring the work of Michael Golden. Scott previewed the Michael Golden book at this panel, which will include an 8 page Wolverine story from a Marvel Holiday Special and the entire story of Hulk fighting Spider-Man from Marvel Fanfare #47. When asked how many Artist’s Editions have been published so far, Dunbier replied, “I don’t want to sound obnoxious, but I don’t know.” It’s a lot. When asked what artists he would like to feature in future Artist’s Editions, Dunbier replied, “Marc Silvestri‘s Batman book would be phenomenal. He’s doing the work of his career. One artist I’d love to work with is Tradd Moore. His Silver Surfer stuff is ridiculous. It’s great.”
Scott Snyder talked about what sets his new series from IDW, Dark Spaces: Wildfire, apart from his other comics. “I’m doing a lot of creator owned work this year, and I wanted to do something different than what I’m doing elsewhere,” Snyder explained. He pointed out that this series is the only comic he’s currently writing that doesn’t involve genre tropes like superheroes on the supernatural. It’s a straight up heist thriller.
Stephen Graham Jones talked about the origin of his new IDW series, Earthdivers: Kill Columbus. Growing up an indigenous person in America had him grappling with school history books told from a white point of view versus the reality around him. “You first job is to be authentic to yourself and not fake out. With Earthdivers, I can pack in some of the anger and frustration, and hopefully the reader can pick up on that.” Earthdivers takes places in 2112. Earth is a wasteland, climate change has destroyed the planet. Those who could leave, did. The protagonists of the story find a time travel pool in a cave and decide the best way to save the planet is to go back in time to kill Christopher Columbus in order to ensure America never exists. The writer added, “If I can infect people with the need to kill Columbus, that’s wonderful.” Scott Snyder praised Earthdivers, saying “Earthdivers is a really incredible book.”
Sofia Warren spoke about her memoir graphic novel, Radical: My Year With a Socialist Senator. Sofia spent a year following around Julia Salazar, a socialist running for NY State Senate. “The entire process was very uncomfortable for me,” explained Warren. “But that’s what I love about comics, that it lets you enter other worlds. Comics let you enter thrilling and riskful worlds without putting yourself in peril.” When asked during the Q&A if she considers herself a journalist, Sofia said that she grappled with that question a bit, and decided in the end that she this graphic novel was a memoir, not a piece of journalism. She explained that for her to consider herself a journalist, she would have to hold herself to certain standards, such a giving time to the views of people on the other side of the fence.
The most lighthearted member of the panel may have been Eric Burnham, writer of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Saturday Morning Adventures. How does he capture the vibe of the TMNT cartoon? “I watched a lot of TV as a kid, and all the voices stayed in my head.”
Stephen Graham Jones shared an anecdote on how he got into comics thanks to Secret Wars #4. His mom would take him on long car rides, where they would stop for gas and he’d be given three quarters to buy himself a Dr. Pepper. He recounted a tale about one of those stops. “I was stopped in my tracks by Secret Wars #4,” after seeing it in the gas station convenience store’s spinner rack. “It was my first contact with the Hulk, Mr. Fantastic and all them cats. I distinctly remember #10, Dr. Doom decides he doesn’t want to be anyone’s chess piece. There’s a splash page where Doom is coming at the Beyonder. He’s lost an arm. He’s lost a leg, but he just won’t quit. If Doctor Doom can do it, I can do it. I liked his stubbornness. Without that one splash page from Secret Wars #10, I think I would have given up at some point.”
Like Doctor Doom facing off against the Beyonder, IDW saw an arm and a leg get blown away by the loss of G.I. Joe and Transformers. While those licenses are moving on to another publisher, IDW is standing strong. To paraphrase Stephen Graham Jones, if Doctor Doom can do it, IDW can do it.
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NOTE: An earlier version of this article indicated that IDW had lost all of their Hasbro licenses, including My Little Pony. The piece has been corrected to reflect the losses of only the G.I. Joe and Transformers licenses.