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January 6, 2015


IDW Publishing Acquires Top Shelf Productions

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Here's the PR.

First reaction. It makes sense to me, and is only surprising in that comics companies tend not to make deals that make this kind of basic sense. Comics publishing history tells us when an established company wants to start publishing comics of a certain kind, or make more of a commitment to doing so, the gig tends to go to some person in the office or one of the floating editors that flit from company to company and everything starts from scratch. As someone who think comics overpublishes a bit, this isn't an ideal situation for the field entire. I remember when I first started working at Fantagraphics I assumed they fielded deals every now and then from bigger publishing companies and was told that had never been the case. Just because something isn't done a whole lot in comics doesn't mean it doesn't happen ever, or more importantly that it shouldn't happen now and then. It's a deal that makes sense, I think.

Second reaction: This puts into context some of the recent moves that Top Shelf has made, its transformation into a smaller, limited-release boutique publisher as opposed to an old-fashioned put-out-a-lot-of-comics underground/1st generation alternative publisher. That would make them more attractive to a partnership, I think, than the old set-up. I don't know that it was intentional, as that also makes sense for the next stage of an independent publisher, but I bet it makes the transition easier.

Third reaction: Re-looking at the PR to see if they announce explicit plans to change that approach at Top Shelf... okay, it really doesn't. It looks like the new initiatives will adhere to that limited-book model more than an open the floodgates model, surely.

Fourth reaction: Top Shelf could probably use some cash for some things, particularly in the marketing end. Or at least access to cash flow.

Fifth reaction: The way that IDW is said to manage its existing divisions, with veteran management working under Ted Adams, management from whom much is expected but who are basically left alone to do what they do, would seem to make them an ideal partner for this kind of whole-company acquisition.

I'm forced by time commitments to play catch on this one initially -- there's not an interview I can do today, for example, even were it offered. The curse of the part-time gig. (I'm working on it; someone please acquire me.) I'll cover the crap out of it anyway, unless it's all hot air, and even in that case I'll point that out.

I hope someone asks about the potential merging of digital strategies -- I remember those being somewhat different, but maybe different in a way Top Shelf can inform some of what IDW does -- and the same about media adapatations strategies and existing deals, which are also quite different, I think.
 
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