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News: IDW Names EIC
posted June 30, 2004

June 30 -- After weeks of speculation by comics insider, IDW Publishing named Chris Ryall to replace the departing Jeff Mariotte as Editor-in-Chief. Mariotte is leaving the company to pursue his writing full time, including a series of horror novels aimed at a teen readership. He will also write a comic book series, Desperadoes, to be published through IDW.

Ryall is best known in comic circles as the Editor-In-Chief of the comic-centric movies and pop culture web site Ryall was recommended to the publisher by writer Steve Niles, who pens many of the company's most popular comics including the horror title that put IDW on the map: 30 Days of the Night.

Late Spring/Early Summer proved to be a fairly active period for moves in the comic book industry. In a pair of important shakeouts more directly related to talent working on franchise comic books, two stalwart Marvel Comics writers of the last five years have moved on. Chuck Austen, a workhorse on many of the company's most popular titles that drew the ire of many hardcore fans, has stopped working for the company in light of the publisher's recent moves to de-emphasize elements of older-oriented plotting in its main titles. Bruce Jones, the longtime veteran of independent and newsstand magazine comics who stewarded a generally successful run on The Incredible Hulk and various mini-series, has departed for a two-year exclusive DC.

Both Austen and Jones were important second-tier hires for the company in its New Marvel phase, and each writer was able to balance a degree of narrative ingenuity within the parameters assigned -- Austen wrote and drew a black and white weekly Iron Man title that featured bare breasts and R-rated movie violence that came very early in the company's scramble to find new approaches and set a pretty high bar for everything that followed; Bruce Jones seized on a slow-build narrative early in his Hulk run -- with a professional attitude towards meeting deadlines and building on past characterization and editorial directives.

Other notable hirings and firings all shaping up after the July 4th weekend include Stephen Wacker's move to full DC Editor. Wacker joined the company in 2000 from the Associated Press as an assistant editor, and was promoted to Associate Editor in 2002. Wacker's move up the ladder represents one of the rare scramble upwards movements in DC's generally conservative editorial hierarchy. His assignments with the publisher will include Hawkman and another Legion of Superheroes re-launch. Marvel experienced a bit of editorial movement in a different direction. According to an on-line report at Heidi MacDonald's The Beat, editors John Miesegaes and Teresa Focarile have left that company. Focarile was the point person at Marvel for new talent recruitment, both within the incredibly bizarre odyssey that was the Epic line relaunch and without.