Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

January 17, 2010

CR Sunday Interview: Ted Adams

imageTed Adams is the CEO of IDW Publishing, the multifaceted comics company that in 2009 celebrated its tenth year with a massive anniversary book, a tasteful smattering of celebratory moments in the comics press and at conventions, and by continuing to do what the production-oriented company has come to do very, very well: putting out a massive number of comic books in a variety of genres and formats. IDW's recent offerings have included but have certainly not been limited to several volumes from the Dean Mullaney-spearheaded Library of American Comics, a slew of successful licensed comics from last summer's blockbuster-heavy film calendar, Darwyn Cooke's formidable and beautiful Parker: The Hunter, and a lovingly-presented Rocketeer collection that felt like a sweet, mournful goodbye to an entire school of comic book making. They plan more of the same in 2010, and their imminent King Aroo collection should be an early candidate for book of the year.

IDW was recently recognized by Diamond as one of the select number of publishers with more than four percent market share. This makes them the first publisher to my knowledge to break into the ranks of the recognized premiere publishers in such a fashion. It seemed like a good idea to sit down and talk to Adams -- a company co-founder, a part-owner, its beating heart and albeit a bit reluctantly its public face -- about his company's rise and about moving from one Gem Awards publisher's category to a bigger Gem Awards publisher's category. -- Tom Spurgeon


imageTOM SPURGEON: This plateau that you've reached, where you're in with the bigger publishers rather than the smaller publishers... you've spent some of this year thinking about your company, with the commemorative book and your anniversary and everything. What does this specific plateau mean to you and IDW?

TED ADAMS: For me personally, it's something that I'm proud of because I don't think it's been accomplished before. I'm curious to see if some of the people who do a good job of paying attention to these kinds of things -- like John Jackson Miller [see addendum below] or yourself or some of the other folks -- can identify this for certain, but I think it's the first time that a non-premier publisher has passed a premier publisher in annual market share. The only company that I can think of that might have done it would have been CrossGen, but I don't think they ever did.

So I'm proud of it because I think it's the first time that it's been done. I think this is a real testament to the hard work of everybody at IDW. It starts with our editorial team and all the creators, all the writers, artists and colorists and letterers that we work with, our production folks, our internal kinds of people like the accounting department, the shipping department... it's a full team effort and an amazing testament to the hard work that everyone does at IDW. .

I generally don't do a lot of interviews, and I don't spend a lot of time talking about the company, but this is one instance where I'm particularly proud of the accomplishment.

imageSPURGEON: Do you have a sense in terms of your company's make-up of what pushed you to this level at this time?

ADAMS: I think it's a reflection of the diversity of our publishing line. I think if you look at what we publish in any given month, there's just no question that we're the most diverse comic publisher out there. We certainly do a lot of licensed books, things like Angel and Star Trek and Transformers. We do a lot of creator-driven books. We have some key creators we work with, guys like Steve Niles and Ashley Wood. But we also work these days with folks like Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez on Locke & Key and Darwyn Cooke on the Parker series. We have The Library of American Comics, which is run by Dean Mullaney. I think he's doing some amazing things. We have the books we're doing with Craig Yoe. We're the print publisher for Mike Gold's ComicMix line. We have our children's book line. I think we're a really diverse publisher and that that, more than anything, has helped us succeed over the last couple of years. We aren't completely reliant on one kind of product. That's been a strategy for us from the get-go.

imageSPURGEON: Is there a group of books that stands out performance-wise over the last 18 months?

ADAMS: Certainly the licensed books over the last 18 months have done extraordinary business for us. We had a unique situation last year where we had product that was associated with four giant movie releases. Starting with Star Trek, which did huge business. Our book that was a tie-in to that, Star Trek: Countdown, sold unbelievably well for us. Then we rolled into Terminator, which we also did well with. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the Transformers franchise has always been really solid for us and when they have a movie come out it's that much more so. And then finally GI Joe. So we had this four- or five-month period where these four giant movies came out and we were able to sell a lot of books.

The interesting thing is that most -- not most, but a lot -- of that success comes outside of the Direct Market. Many of those trades are sold through mass channels -- places like Borders, Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Diamond's market share is only reflective of Direct Market sales. If there were a way to have a market share analysis of the total business including the mass market, I suspect we would probably be even higher. We sold a lot of books outside of the Direct Market last year. And that's certainly not to diminish the Direct Market, because that's without any question our key marketplace, but we had an unusually good year outside of the Direct Market last year.

SPURGEON: Let me ask you about the licensed books. I watched an interview you did with Jonah Weiland last summer. A couple of things you said were interesting when I put them together. One is that you pursue your licensed properties rather than the other way around. The other is that you rode the PR wave that comes with each major movie. I don't expect you to give away that part of your pitch, but what is the nature of the interest in these books from the studios? How do you sell them on that. We can see these books work for you, but what about having a comic book out there works for them?

ADAMS: I think from their perspective, just in general terms, the more stories and the more marketing and the more PR that's out there, the better it is for them. God knows how much money was spent to promote Transformers: The Revenge Of the Fallen. Literally upwards of $100 million was spent to promote that movie, right? As proud as I am of what we did with our comic books, in the scheme of that kind of money we're kind of inconsequential. What's important to them is that we help them tell their stories, and we tell the parts of their stories they can't address in the movies. If you look at Transformers as an example, we were doing comic books that bridged the two movies, we were telling stories that happened in between the two movies and helping them flesh out those storylines.

My perception is that most of the studios and the big licensors, they recognize that they need to be respectful of that hardcore fan base. It's important to them that they have investment from the people who've grown up loving Transformers and the people who read our Transformers comics on a monthly basis and that are really invested in these comics. They want to make sure those people also love their movies. I think it really stems from that. They don't want to alienate the fanbase, and we can help them reach that goal.

SPURGEON: Do you think that's a newer development?

ADAMS: I think in the last ten to 15 years that's turned around. I think there was a period of time when people didn't care about the fans. When I worked at WildStorm we did comic books based off of the Resident Evil videogames. I actually wrote a fair number of those books, so I was a big Resident Evil fan at the time. The Resident Evil movie came out -- this is going on more than ten years now! The movie was okay, but it didn't have anything to do with the Resident Evil videogame. It shared a name with it, and it shared the absolute biggest high concept with it. [laughs] I could never figure out why that was. Why create a movie that just takes the name and very little else?

I think that that way of looking at IP has changed over the last ten to 15 years. If you look at the movies that have been successful, maybe starting with the Spider-Man movies and even the X-Men movies to a certain extent, they really started looking at the underlying IP as the source material and being respectful towards that and the fan base that built it in the first place.


SPURGEON: Another thing you discuss in the Weiland interview is using guerilla marketing strategies on behalf of 30 Days Of Night, which was certainly a key title in IDW's development. Can you talk about what "guerilla marketing" meant in that case, and how your outlook on PR and marketing might be different now?

ADAMS: Back in those days, with 30 Days Of Night, we were a brand-new publisher and it was much easier to do guerilla-style marketing for me personally back then, and I think for the market back then. What I mean specifically by guerilla marketing for 30 Days Of Night is that I used my relationships to sell that book. Beau Smith, who was working for IDW in those days, and I called the retailers we were friendly with. I called in favors with Wizard. I called in favors with Diamond. People I'd done business with for 10-15 years, I essentially cashed in those chips and asked them to take a look at 30 Days Of Night. I basically said, "Hey, I think this is important. Please pay attention to it." Ultimately, if the book had been lousy, that wouldn't have worked. But I think the combination of me cashing in those chips and presenting them with what was a cool story and at the time revolutionary art -- because nobody had seen what Ben [Templesmith] was doing at the time -- I think it worked because the book itself stood on its own two feet. So it was me leveraging my personal relationships to get people to pay attention to the book.

And frankly, when the comic came out, it didn't work all that well. [laughter] The comic didn't sell. It's not like we're talking about a book that set the sales charts on fire from a comic book standpoint. What it did do is that I was able to get people talking about it, and get the buzz going, so when Sam Raimi bought the movie rights that really ratcheted up the buzz about the book. In large measure, I think it was Wizard Magazine, which was really influential back in those days, they were covering the book on a monthly basis. They have their list of hot ten comics and we were number one on that list for five or six months in a row. We were the number one story of that year. They were talking about 30 Days Of Night on a regular basis in that magazine.

All of that buzz -- my guerilla marketing, the Sam Raimi deal, the Wizard Magazine coverage -- led to the trade paperback being the number one trade paperback of the month. We beat out everybody. At that point, we had maybe published six things. We had the number one trade paperback. It was unheard of for that sort of thing to happen.

Fast-forwarding ten years later, to today: I can't do that kind of guerilla-style marketing anymore. As much as I would love to go out and deal with each book on an individual basis, it's just not practical.

SPURGEON: Do you have a sense whether your company and/or comics in general is transitioning towards more traditional PR and marketing? There's a common context to guerilla marketing -- new company, new work, limited resources -- that's very different than the position you, for example, find yourself in now.

ADAMS: For us, it's the thing we struggle with the most. I think it's a combination of that we publish a lot of books. We're doing 40 books a month, a combination of comics and trades, we're really publishing this large volume of books, so for us it becomes a matter of resources: how can we get out the marketing message for all of those books.

As you get beyond IDW's output and you look at the market in total, the number of books that are released through Previews on a monthly basis is a big number. How do we break through our own clutter, and then in a more macro way how do we break through the industry's clutter and have people pay attention to any particular book in any particular given month? It's something we struggle with all the time. It's absolutely our number one challenge. How do we let consumers and retailers know about books that we're publishing? How do we get that information to them in a way that's digestible so that they can make the decision as to whether or not this is something they want to buy or they don't want to buy? It's the key challenge for us and probably for any publisher.


SPURGEON: Is there any recent IDW comic or project where you think you did a really good job getting the word out in this fashion?

ADAMS: I think there are a couple. I think Locke and Key, which is a book we do with Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, I think we did a good job with that. That was a book where I did go back to my 30 Days Of Night marketing. I did make a lot of personal calls on that, sent out a lot of books. The book itself is terrific, so once you get people to read it, they like it. We were also able to ride the crest of Joe Hill's literary success. Around the time we were releasing Locke and Key, his first novel came out and hit the New York Times bestseller list. That was certainly helpful for us. That was one of the unusual books where when you look at that initial mini-series that we did, the fifth issue sold more than the first. That's almost unheard of in comics these days.

Two other ones I think we did a particularly good job with this year. One is the Parker book we did with Darwyn Cooke. We really went out of our way to make sure people knew how important that book was. We printed advance copies that we gave out for review, and that we gave away at BEA last year. We did every piece of promotional marketing collateral we could think of. We bought advertising in ways that we just normally don't do. We were trying to get out there and make sure people knew about that book in every way we could think of. I think that book has been successful for us. As always, the main reason the book is successful is because of the brilliant job that Darwyn did in creating it. But I think our marketing and promotions effort supported his effort.

The other one is our Bloom County release at the end of last year. We did a good job of getting the word out about that. Berkeley [Breathed] was very gracious with this time and set aside time to do interviews with places like USA Today, any mainstream media interested in that book. Those were some of our successes in the last year. We've been lucky. We brought on a PR and marketing person last year that's done a terrific job for us. She's overworked because of the volume of titles we do, but I think she's doing a really nice job for us.


SPURGEON: Let's talk about IDW's volume issues for a second. A friend of mine said that IDW may be the only comics company about which you don't talk about projects they have yet to publish. That's because IDW announces a book and then, wham, it's out. Your company has a very production-oriented ethos, in other words. Does that come from you?

ADAMS: It does. It's a bit of my manic nature, to a certain extent. I like to make decisions quickly and do things quickly. We move a lot faster than other companies. We're not a company where we're all sitting around agonizing over decisions and having meetings to figure this or that out. We decide we're going to do it, and we go and do it. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. But it is one of the things that makes us unique.

We're really production-focused. That comes from my having worked at a variety of comics publishers. I was able to see what worked and didn't work. I tried to learn from a production and editorial standpoint what causes books to be late, what causes things to not work. I took all of those things that I've learned and have tried to apply them to IDW. Every morning we start the day with a very quick production meeting. It's a ten- to 15-minute meeting. We bring in Chris Ryall, our publisher and editor-in-chief. We bring in the head of our production department and a couple of other key employees and we set the direction of the day. We say, "Okay, these are the three books we're going to get to the printer today." And that really sets the direction for the whole company from a production standpoint.

While that may sound like common sense, in my experience that's pretty unique for a comics publishers, to start your day every morning with a production focus on "here is what we're going to accomplish today" specifically, and "these are the books that we're going to get out of the door today" specifically. It sets the direction for the company. One of the things we're proud of is not only do we publish a large number of books on a monthly basis, our on-time percentage, if anybody were to take a look at it, is pretty extraordinary. If we say a book will come out in February, it will almost always come out in February.

Even more than that, what we work really hard to do is not drop our entire line all in one week. If we have 40 books, our goal is to spread out those books 10 per week. We spend a lot of time making that happen. We also spend a lot of time making sure we don't drop three Transformers books in one week. So if, say, in the month of February we have four Transformers books, our goal is to have one per week. Same with GI Joe or Star Trek: if we've got two or three books, we don't want to drop all of those in the same week. We try to have a release schedule that a consumer and a retailer can live with.

We've run into some hitches, frankly, over the last couple of months, with our release schedule. Diamond does a terrific job, and we wouldn't have the success we've had without them. But we've run into some weather related hitches where they've had some problems with their trucks and various other things. That's caused our books to be released in a way that's very frustrating to us. We've worked hard to ensure that we'll have 10 books one week and eight books the next week and the Diamond truck breaks down or there's a weather related problem and all of the sudden we have zero books one week and 18 books the next week. That's really frustrating to all of us because we work really hard to make sure that doesn't happen.

We spend a lot of time thinking about what a consumer can live with and what a retailer can live with from out big release schedule. From a pure pocketbook standpoint, if you're a Transformers fan, it's better for you if we can sell you a Transformers book once per week instead of four Transformers books all in one week.


SPURGEON: Has IDW ever had trouble reconciling the different kinds of discipline necessary to serve the bookstore market and the comic shop market?

ADAMS: The biggest challenge there is that with the book market, when you're talking movie releases, they want that product on an accelerated schedule. In their perfect world, a trade paperback that ties into a movie would come out six weeks before a movie release. We accomplished that with all four of our major properties last year, but that was a real challenge to have the books done that far ahead of time. We print our books in Korea, including all of our comics, so you're talking really long lead times to accomplish that goal. They tell us it's important to them.

SPURGEON: You get a lot of credit as being hands-off with your editors. Do you feel you deserve the praise you get in that area?

ADAMS: From my perspective we have the best editorial team in comics. It's a small team. If you look at our team, it starts with Chris Ryall, who's the editor in chief. Then you start looking at some of the editors that work with him: Scott Dunbier, Bob Schreck, Andy Schmidt being some of the primary ones, these are A+ editors. These guys are as good as it gets. We have Mariah [Huehner] who works on the Angel line, she's a terrific editor. We have Denton [J. Tipton] who is doing our Dr. Who books; he's newer to the industry but doing a good job. We have guys that are behind the scenes running our trade paperbacks and collected lines, we have a guy named Justin [Eisinger] who works on those books and he produces an amazing number of books and does it with a smile.

It took me a while to get all of these pieces into place, but I have an editorial team that I trust implicitly. I try not to micro-manage them in any way. If Bob Schreck comes to me and says, "I have an idea for this." I just say, "Okay, let's do it. What can I do to help you accomplish that goal without getting in your way."

I think Scott Dunbier joining us a couple of years ago is probably the best example of that. He came to us with a bunch of ideas already in mind, and I literally tried to do everything I could to support him but also to get out of his way and let him do what he was good at. He had come from an environment that was set up differently, so I think for him it was very freeing to say, "I can come to work every day, and I don't have to have meetings and I don't have to be micro-managed."

SPURGEON: I would guess the production emphasis would also instill discipline up and down the line that might not have to be enforced otherwise.

ADAMS: That's the only place where I do get involved. If we say we're going to do a book, I try not to get involved in the details of that particular book. But once we say it's going to come out in October, it's going to come out in October. I'm not pushing people to get it out in October. If you need a couple of extra months to get it done, so be it. But once we say it's going to come out in October, it's going to come out in October.

SPURGEON: One big news item that I think may have confused people more than any other over the last five years is the purchase of IDW by IDT.

ADAMS: Okay, sure.

SPURGEON: What's the current status of that relationship? I think it's slightly changed from what it was initially. Am I right?

ADAMS: Not really. It's changed a little bit. IDT has a division called IMG. IMG is the company that made the investment in IDW. All of these companies that start with "I" is a little confusing. They own a majority interest in IDW. Robbie Robbins and myself are minority owners. Robbie and I are two of the company's founders. So it hasn't changed all that much. They've been a good partner. We've been very successful in just about any way you can measure it financially, so they're happy with the job we're doing.

SPURGEON: Why was that investment important at that time?

ADAMS: Well, it wasn't. It's interesting to me that people were interested in that transaction. Because at the time -- it's going on three years that we did the deal -- if you'd asked anybody who owns IDW, first of all most people would say I have no idea. Ninety percent of those that did answer would have said, "Ted owns IDW." That was the perception. The reality is that four of us owned IDW, and we had a couple of minor investors. Nobody cared. [laughs] It wasn't all that interesting who owned IDW before this transaction, so it was always a little confusing why anybody cared that people they didn't know in the form of Alex [Garner]and Kris [Oprisko] and Robbie were replaced by another group they didn't know.

SPURGEON: I think the curiosity was that IDW was obviously enjoying a certain level of success when this ownership deal took place, and this forced a lot of people to ask the question why IDW would seek a partner. Had the company overreached? Did the company want to expand? And so on.

ADAMS: It wasn't the kind of transaction where we were looking for a capital investment where we could go out and invest in things. It was much more the kind of transaction where as you said we'd been successful, we'd been in business for seven years, we had owners that were looking to move on and do other things, and they were looking to cash out their investment in large measure. It was a way to get some money for the work they'd done for the last seven years and bring in some people that wanted to be in the publishing business. It wasn't "Oh, we need money because we're in trouble," or "Oh, we need money to make a capital investment." We had owners who wanted to make their assets more liquid.


SPURGEON: You mentioned some snafus with Diamond earlier. How worried are you moving forward about the health of the comics infrastructure? Are you confident you'll be able to always get your product into the hands of the people who want it?

ADAMS: Absolutely.

After I said that about Diamond I kind of felt bad about it because I am a giant supporter of Diamond.

SPURGEON: We'll note your concern by including this exchange, although I don't think what you said sounded bad at all.

ADAMS: I'm glad to hear that. I think Diamond does an incredible job, and the amount of product they process in any given week and the efficiency with which they do it is unbelievable. They are in my opinion a tremendous organization and they take more heat than they should. We've had a couple of hiccups here and there, but I couldn't be happier with the service they provide.

And I'm not just trying to kiss ass with Diamond because they're our #1 customer! [laughs] I think they do an extraordinary job and the folks over there take their job unbelievably seriously. I have a lot of respect for them. Because of that respect I don't have a lot of concern for the health of the Direct Market, other than the concern that most people have for brick and mortar in this day and age. I think we should have a general concern about how print products are sold.

Comics are in a tough spot. I understand why they buy the books that they buy, but I do feel that in large measure the Direct Market does have this sort of diminishing return in these endless crossovers and events, these superhero events, and having that be the only focus of the industry. I think that's not good for any of us from a long-term perspective. There's nothing new here, we've all been talking about this as long as I've been in the business. [Spurgeon laughs] But we do in large measure sell to a smaller audience year after year after year, because we lose people but don't replace them.

I have a seven-year-old son, and my house is filled with comics and I've been reading to him since he was a baby, but as an industry we really don't make much product for him. There's Tiny Titans, which is a terrific book. A lot of the other DC kids book. Bone is certainly amazing as a gateway book for kids and other people. But as an industry we don't do a good job of bringing in newpeople. I'm not saying IDW does that, either. I'm not holding us up as a savior. But if you ask me if I have a concern for the Direct Market, that would be my only concern.

SPURGEON: Some of these concerns aren't wholly Direct Market concerns. Border's isn't exactly doing really well right now, either.

ADAMS: Right.

SPURGEON: It makes me think... like most companies, IDW has a foot in the digital world with much, much more likely to come. In terms of your digital media initiatives, when you personally conceive of that in terms of your overall publishing efforts, is there a defensive element to that part of your company? Is there an element to it of hedging your bets about print publishing?

ADAMS: My belief is that when we sell an iTunes app, the person buying that is not person who was going to buy a print version. He just simply wasn't going to go to a comic store or bookstore. There are many more people that don't read print -- comic books or books -- than do. And so our aggressive nature in digital distribution certainly lies in a bit of a defensive standpoint, but more from the standpoint of wanting to reach the biggest audience I can.

My goal as a publisher is to bring as many people to a title as I possibly can. If the person reads it on paper, that's my preferred method, because that's what I like. I will always choose paper over digital. But I don't want to be dismissive to the person who wants to read it on their iPhone or who wants to read it on their PSP. If I can reach people through those platforms I'm going to do it and I'm going to be as aggressive as I possibly can in doing it.

I don't see a lot of talk about the PSP from the comics press, but the PSP launched their comics reader in the middle of December and we've started to get some preliminary sales information from them, sales rankings. IDW is disproportionately represented in their top 10 of sales. Certainly disproportionately represented as compared to where we would be in a Diamond Top 300 chart. We can have what looks like tremendous success via that platform with comics that I can't sell as well in comics stores. We're talking about creator-driven books performing better than our licensed books. I've never seen that. We're talking very early days, the thing's not even a month old. [laughter] I'm not going to proclaim that we have a new way to sell creator-driven comics.

SPURGEON: "Shut down the presses!" [laughter]

ADAMS: The Direct Market is our #1 market, and I don't see any reason it won't always be our #1 market. But if I can reach another 100, 000 people through the PSP and another 100,000 through iTunes, I'm going to do that. If I can bring more people to these ideas and these concepts, from our perspective we want our content to reach as many people as possible. There is a large number of people who would prefer to read them on the iPhone versus paper. I'm not one of them. I prefer to read them on paper.


SPURGEON: You've ramped up the comic strip portion of your line in incredibly rapid fashion: multiple titles, several books in some of the series, both modern and classic comics. Was there any feeling of risk very early on, that no matter how lovely they might be, you were committing to these massive books? I remember sitting down with you at San Diego in 2008 and looking at Dean's copy of... oh, man...

ADAMS: The Noel Sickles.

SPURGEON: ... right, the Scorchy Smith/Noel Sickles book. On the one hand I was thinking, "This is a gorgeous book." And on the other hand I was thinking, "This is a gorgeous book that features, you know, Scorchy Smith."

ADAMS: [laughs]

SPURGEON: How much risk does this kind of commitment entail?

ADAMS: There's always some financial risk with any individual project, particularly when you're talking about something that's expensive to print. There's no risk to IDW in total. We're big enough we can survive the failure of any individual project and, in this case, the Scorchy Smith book was profitable for IDW. My perspective on these things is that IDW from the get-go from a publishing standpoint is that we're always going to publish things that are important to us. We certainly never go out of our way to say we want to lose money on any particular project. But if we think something's important, or if it's important to any particular employee of IDW, those are projects we are going to pursue.

Dean Mullaney, who has done an unbelievable job with the Library of American Comics, the volume of books he's produced over the last couple of years, each more beautiful than the last, when Dean came to me and proposed this book, it's similar to what we talked about before: "Sounds good. What do you need from me to make this happen?"

I believe that's really one of the beautiful things about the Direct Market. A book like that isn't going to set sales records. We're not going to sell 10,000 copies. But we can count on the Direct Market to buy 1000-1500 copies of a book like that. And that gives us the security to know that's a book we can pursue. I can't stress enough that there are so many great things about the Direct Market, and that's one of them. Almost everyone who works here has been working in the Direct Market for 20 years, we know what will work and what won't work there. A book like that: nobody thinks they're going to get rich from a book like that. But if it's a book that we feel is important and that we're passionate about, we're going to do it.

I just saw the advance copy yesterday of a strip called King Aroo, which is a book Dean has been really passionate about. I grew up studying comic strips and comic strip artists. That said, King Aroo isn't one I was familiar with. But Dean said, "This stuff is amazing. We've got to bring this back out." So we did it. We got the advance copy in yesterday and this book is beautiful. The art is unbelievable. A really, really beautiful strip. Are we going to make money on that book? Probably not a lot. But this is a book that needs to be out there. The people who like it are going to be blown away by it, and for people like me who love comic strips but aren't familiar with this one, it's going to be eye-opening.


SPURGEON: I'm trying to think of a way to end this, Ted, a way that's clever and satisfying. [Adams laughs] One person asked me to ask you when IDW is going to lower the Bob Schreck boom -- that you're due for some terrifyingly huge announcement of a Schreck-led project.

ADAMS: [laughs] Well, stay tuned. [laughter] I worked with Bob at Dark Horse and at the time he was the marketing director and I was one of his assistants. I've known him forever. Then he moved to editorial and he's had this incredible career. When I saw he and DC had gone their separate ways, I knew there was no way I was not going to have him work at IDW.

SPURGEON: A thing that's interesting to me about your company looking at it from the outside-in is that a lot of what you're doing right now is still in the early stages. There's plenty of room for you to build onto some of your more recent big projects. Dean gives you access to classic strips, Bloom Countyputs you in play for any modern strip projects, the Parker book indicates you're an option for a lot of books people tend to think of going to book publishers and art-comics houses, and the addition of Bob Schreck opens up everything in mainstream American comic books that doesn't involve a licensed character. You're building a series of powerful Rolodexes.

ADAMS: I want everybody to think of us as a home for their project. I want Paramount to come to us with their next big movie release, and I want creators to know that IDW can be a good home for their projects as well. We've worked hard to improve that over the last few years. When we started it was my Rolodex, with Ashley Wood, Steve Niles, and people that I knew. As we've grown, that Rolodex has gotten bigger and bigger.

If somebody has got something they're thinking of doing, I want them to think of IDW.



I asked comics numbers guru John Jackson Milelr to comment as Ted Adams suggested on IDW's move past certain premier publishers on the marketshare charts. John responded as follows:
"I would not have been able to answer this last week, but I've just had all the Diamond end-of-year figures keyed in from the last decade. (Finally got some help!)

Crossgen topped out at 3.24% in annual dollar share in 2003, behind fourth-place Dark Horse, at 5.53%.

Dreamwave topped out at 2.49% in 2003, for sixth place that year.

Viz gets up to 3.01% in Pokemon-mad 1999, but Dark Horse was at 8.29% that year.

So his theory is correct.

We might also get into quibbles over whether or not Acclaim or Wizard are premier publishers -- they did get the front of the book treatment and were announced in that initial wave, but they weren't brokerage deals with their own discount rates. But I can't remember offhand whether there was a separate term for them, or how they were referred to in the listings. I'd need to check my orderbooks from way back when.
Thanks, John.

If you have as few as five comics sites bookmarked, you should make one of them The Comics Chronicles.



posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink

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