Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Exit 2008

Everyone makes lists this time of year. Best this, Worst that… it becomes the only way anyone can communicate in December. So in the spirit of keeping this blog entry relatively brief – and because IDW actually celebrates its tenth anniversary next year -- I’ll take that same shortcut here and offer up what I think were IDW’s 10-ish Notable Events for 2008. This is presented in no particular order, just as they occur to me here:

  • LOCKE & KEY: In just six short issues (plus the three so far completed on the follow-up, HEAD GAMES, launching on January 14), Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, along with colorist Jay Fotos, have become such a cohesive unit that their book has become the yardstick by which I measure everything else we do. Gabriel has long been among my favorite artists ever, and the work he’s doing here continues to define a career that has improved by great amounts every year I’ve worked with him (since 2004). And Joe’s story is so fun, clever, inventive, thrilling and full of unexpected turns that it’s hard to believe he’d never written a comic series before this. The fact that I got to meet Joe this year and realize that he and Gabe are also two of the nicest guys in all of comics make this project that much more special. WIZARD Magazine recently named Joe “Best Horror Writer 2008,” and just today, Fangoria named the comic #2 on its list of Top Screams of 2008. And I'm hoping these will just be the start of additional and well-deserved accolades for this fantastic book. If ever I need a reason I do this job every day, this book provides it constantly. Probably my favorite book we’ve ever published, and I’ve taken great care to never pick favorites when asked before. I’m biased, but it’s also that good.

  • G.I. JOE: After having a few great years of partnership on THE TRANSFORMERS, it was gratifying that Hasbro liked working with us as much as we’ve enjoyed things with them and awarded us the G.I. JOE license this year, too. Having a shot at offering up the best possible version of comics I loved as a kid, and with that getting a chance to work with someone like Larry Hama, is a great trust and a helluva lot of fun so far. Seeing the fans quickly respond to the books that new Senior Editor Andy Schmidt has put together for us is a nice bonus, having me look even more forward to next month’s official series launch. And speaking of Andy…

  • New Hires: When I first started at IDW in June 2004, there were eight of us and we were publishing around 13 titles a month. Now, not quite five years later, we have upwards of 20 people putting out around 40 books a month. This also meant new office space this year, our first dedicated IDW building rather than a shared space (and finally room for Ash Wood’s 6’ tall robot). It’s been great to see us grow like we have, and we’ve never experienced more growth than we did in 2008. We hired people that have made a big difference, and even signing Ben Templesmith to an exclusive and getting him to pack up his life and wife in Australia and come to San Diego, has really given the company a united front as we keep pushing forward. To where? Read on.

  • Four! This year, for a few different months, we moved into the Number-Four spot, supplanting Image Comics as the fourth-largest publisher in the country. And we’re poised to do so on an even more consistent basis next year, which is especially nice because it becomes a testament to not only the work everyone in the office does, but also to the fans and to the retailers who support us. So everyone shares credit for this one.

  • Our First Eisner Award: We’ve had some nominations before, but we’ve never collected an Eisner Award before. That changed this year, thanks to the great Dean Mullaney, the godfather of our Library of American Comics line. Dean, who formerly headed up Eclipse Comics, has done masterful work on our collections of TERRY AND THE PIRATES, LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE, SCORCHY SMITH AND THE ART OF NOEL SICKLES (and, soon, DICK TRACY). We won for TERRY but Dean’s work on SCORCHY is even more stunning and award-worthy (we’ll see if the Eisner folks agree at next year’s Comic-Con). It was great to get the win and even better that Dean got to collect it for the work he’s been doing.

  • ANGEL: We started ANGEL: AFTER THE FALL in late ’07, but it was really 2008 when the book really took off. Brian Lynch, a good friend as well as a great writer, has taken the story he and Joss Whedon developed it and turned it into a truly epic story. And he managed to blend humor, pathos, horror and a huge cast of characters into a story for the ages. That he’s done so largely with Franco Urru on art (on this book as well as a spin-off title, SPIKE: AFTER THE FALL) -- as well as valuable contributions from Nick Runge, Alex Garner, Stephen Mooney, David Messina, and a few others – makes the book even better for me, since all involved have been such a pleasure to work with. And again, the fan support for this book makes the efforts on this title, our best-selling comic month-in and month-out this year, even better.

    There have been lots of other things that stand out this year: getting the movie prequel to STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN rolling, launching the children’s picture-book like Worthwhile Books, my monthly radio guest-spot on Philadelphia radio show Fictional Frontiers, the PRESIDENTIAL MATERIAL comics and all the press those books received, Scott Dunbier signing Darwyn Cooke to adapt the Parker novels for us… and so many others. But the above list are the things that really stand out in my mind as I type this. Which means I’ve no doubt neglected to mention other worthy books, creators and events, but it’s the end of the year and after a long year of blog posts (over 300 this year), I think my brain’s had enough. Well, after mentioning two other things from this year, anyway…

  • COMIC BOOKS 101: I spent pretty much every late night of the first six months of this year co-writing with Scott Tipton a book called COMIC BOOKS 101, a visual and verbal primer to the comics industry coming from IMPACT Books. The book deal came about in late late 2007, only a few weeks after Scott and I both lost our mothers within three days of one another. So the timing of things – a book deal for a book we first started shopping in late 2003 – was curious and welcome at the same time. And getting contributions from folks like the above-mentioned Hill, Lynch, and Rodriguez (who did the book’s cover), as well as pieces from Gene Simmons, Joe Casey, Marv Wolfman, Paul Dini, Mark Evanier, Clive Barker, and Mark Waid, a 1,500-word outro from Harlan Ellison and an intro from none other than Stan “The Man” Lee. The book comes out next June, but it’ll always mean more as an ’08 thing since that’s when we actually put the whole book together. Yesterday, I got the above image from LOVE AND CAPES creator Thom Zahler, who showed me that the book's cover will be making a cameo in his Free Comic Book Day issue #10 next May, too, a nice, unexpected plug. And now, plug aside, a final note for the year:

    Stan Lee turned 86 three days ago. And there’s nothing that makes me happier than to know that Stan is still here and making contributions to comics and the world of entertainment. Stan, who has better things to do than to answer my 10 PM e-mails and come back two hours later with a fully finished and very fun introduction for COMIC BOOKS 101 book, nevertheless elected instead to do just that for me this year. He’s still such an inspiration to so many people, including me. He’s the reason I want to contribute to the industry I’ve loved my entire life. He’s not only still a great cheerleader for the industry but also is personally encouraging, helpful and pleasant to deal with. He’s more than earned the right to rest on his laurels but I’m really happy to know that he instead chooses to keep working to make this business and the people in it that much better. And I fully expect to be typing this same paragraph on December 31 next year and far beyond that, too.

    Happy new year, everyone, and thanks for reading. I’ll see you in ’09, IDW's 10th Anniversary (and my 5th anniversary with IDW). We’ll talk more comics then.
  • Tuesday, December 30, 2008

    Pants Party

    The comic review site ran their "Down the Line" look at books shipping in March 2009, and along with mentions of BEN TEMPLESMITH'S DRACULA and G.I. JOE: COBRA, they had some nice words to say about Ben and I's GROOM LAKE comic:

    Groom Lake #1 (IDW Publishing): Another quirky, darkly satirical book about aliens and Area 51 (aka Groom Lake). What’s different about this book? Chris Ryall and Ben Templesmith. The art should be hypnotic and Ryall has a decent handle on the funny.

    The first issue is also available for pre-order in the current issue of Previews, on page 293 (Diamond Order code: JAN09 4293)...

    G.I. Jeff

    We thought we'd do something unique for our G.I. JOE launch next month. Instead of the usual retailer incentive cover (well, we have those, too), we put together a full incentive COMIC that is available to retailers with issue 1. It's a glossy 16-page showcase of artist Jeff Campbell's G.I. JOE covers, including some hard-to-find images that are all being run log-free and in full color. So if you want to see his great stuff in a rare incentive comic, hit up your retailer for this one. The comic and this bonus issue are both in stores on January 14.

    And coming tomorrow, a bit of a year-end retrospective and look ahead to '09.

    Monday, December 29, 2008

    First new IDW releases of '09

    In stores this week -- Friday, January 2, not the usual Wednesday:

    30 Days of Night: 30 Days Til Death #2
    Ashley Wood's Extreme Finale
    Doctor Who: The Forgotten #5
    Galaxy Quest: Global Warming #5
    Sir Apropos of Nothing #3
    Supermarket TPB [new digest-sized printing]
    Transformers: All Hail Megatron #6

    Friday, December 26, 2008

    What Th--?!

    You want to talk a wildcard for us? A parody of the great and powerful WATCHMEN is just that. But since it's produced with great love and admiration for the original, and written by Scott Lobdell, it also works nicely as a tweaked encapsulation of that entire series. We're presenting it as just a one-shot, a full 32-pages with no ads, in February, timed to coincide with the movie's release unless the recent ruling in Fox's favor does anything to sabotage that...

    The art in the book is by Alejandro Figueroa, and as you can see, both art and colors, as well as Comicraft's Richard Starkings' letters, are very true to the masterful original work... albeit a lot goofier.

    Wednesday, December 24, 2008

    Robotic Christmas wishes

    For everyone who's been asking us for a Transformers/Terminator crossover, here you go:

    Chilean TERMINATOR SALVATION MOVIE PREQUEL artist Alan Robinson gives the T-600s the edge in his card:

    ALL HAIL MEGATRON/DRIFT artist Casey Coller lays his money on the Autobots:

    and Jim Sorenson, who's helped put together two editions of TRANSFORMERS: THE ARK for us, bets on Fortress Maximus:

    Your Music Magazine has good taste in comics

    In addition to LOCKE & KEY recently getting singled out by Ain't It Cool News and Wizard magazine as one of the year's top comics, Your Music Magazine has named L&K its best comic of the year. So congrats to Joe, Gabriel and Jay for that honor as well. Now onward to a hopeful Eisner nom for this book...

    The whole mag is viewable here, too:

    The artful Christmas wishes continue

    David Messina, STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN and ANGEL artist, offers up a bit sexier take on the Santa Claus myth:

    TRANSFORMERS: ALL HAIL MEGATRON artist Guido Guido wishes everyone a Meggy Christmas:

    And TF colorist Liam Shalloo shows how visions of Transformers dance in his head:

    Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    The artistic wishes keep on comin'

    Sure, this first one doesn't exactly include many IDW characters, but it came to me courtesy of one of the original TRANSFORMERS comic artists, Don Perlin, whose Optimus Prime cover will appear as a variant for ALL HAIL MEGATRON #10 next year:

    And next up are a couple well-wishes from Italy: Fabio Mantovani, colorist on Franco Urru's ANGEL issues (15-17):

    and Mirco Pierfederici, DOCTOR WHO artist:

    Chrismas, LOVE AND CAPES-style.

    A card literally in the same art style of LOVE AND CAPES, since it's from L&C creator Thom Zahler:

    He knows if you've been naughty, nice, or a vampire

    ANGEL: NOT FADE AWAY artist Stephen Mooney's holiday card:

    Monday, December 22, 2008

    Now we just need some reindeer BEAST WARS characters

    TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED: THE ARRIVAL artist Dario Brizuela's Christmas card:

    Saturday Evening Ghost and other holiday wishes

    Cover artist supreme Nick Runge (currently working away on covers for ANGEL 18-22) sent along this Norman Rockwell-inspired piece of a guy Ebenezer really should've called that Christmas Eve night. Would've helped him sleep much better.

    Next up is an image of Mrs. Claus (no wonder Santa only works one day a year) from DOCTOR WHO artist Stefano Martino:

    GUN FU writer/inker Howard Shum, who once paired up with his FU artist Joey Mason and did a great anniversary piece for me and the then-girlfriend/now-wife, sent along this:

    Finally, game designer American McGee and his SpicyHorse design company, let everyone know a bit more of what sensibilities will be applied to our upcoming AMERICAN McGEE'S GRIMM comic:

    Sunday, December 21, 2008

    New releases for Christmas Eve

    Out this week are just two books from us:

    ANGEL: SMILE TIME #1 (5-page preview directly below)

    Saturday, December 20, 2008

    ANGEL: SMILE TIME #1 5-page preview

    The first issue of our 3-part take on the classic Angel "Smile Time," courtesy of writer Scott Tipton and artist David Messina:

    Friday, December 19, 2008

    Well En-DOW-ed Wishes

    Next up is a holiday image from Matthew Dow Smith (artist on F. Paul Wilson's THE KEEP).

    Christmas on Cybertron

    For the past week or so, I've been getting an array of holiday cards e-mailed to me from different artists. So I figured I'd show some of them here, starting with Marcelo Matere's TRANSFORMERS-centric version. Some of the images--most of them, in fact--seem to involve Santa Claus and unclothed women, which I'll keep off the blog, but I'm happy to run anything else, especially anything anyone sends that includes IDW characters in a holiday setting.

    Thursday, December 18, 2008

    Who needs 100 Bullets when you've got two bad-ass swords?

    Dave Johnson, who's done an amazing job on every cover of Vertigo's 100 BULLETS, is doing variant covers for our upcoming G.I. JOE: COBRA miniseries. And as you can see, he's doing an equally nice job with these...

    Wednesday, December 17, 2008

    Riding the Omnibus

    In the spring, we're doing two Omnibus editions of older STAR TREK comics. Both will collect the Marvel comics runs. The first'll be issues 4-18 of their original series (issues 1-3 were the movie adaptation and are being collected in their own Omnibus later, complete with an all-new STAR TREK II adaptation we're doing. KHAN was the only movie never adapted to comics for some reason, which is even odder since everyone considers it the best TREK movie. We're finally gonna rectify that next summer). The second edition will collect the entirety of their EARLY VOYAGES series. Zach Howard will be doing covers for both books, and here I thought I'd show off both his pencils for the cover:

    And the final inked version, too. Colors by Len O'Grady are forthcoming.

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    GRIMM Tidings

    Today, we're announcing a new project done in tandem with game designer American McGee, called AMERICAN McGEE'S GRIMM. Grimm is a character who, in the game at, enters the bright, sunny world of fairy tales and darkens them up in unpredictable, blackly comic ways. In the comic miniseries starting in April--written by Dwight MacPherson and illustrated by Grant Bond--we're going to take that same premise, only here, Grimm will be entering five different and familiar comic book worlds: the world of superheroes, romance comics, westerns, an Archie-like world and funny animal comics. And in each issue, Bond's art style will reflect that same style of comics... at least until Grimm's influence fully takes over.

    Monday, December 15, 2008

    Risen Angel

    Issue 33 of our current FALLEN ANGEL series is the final issue... but only for now. The character will return in a new series this summer, but until then, here's an image to tide everyone over. The art is by ANGEL mainstay Franco Urru and colorist Fabio Mantovani, and as you can see, Illyira will play a part in the new series, too. Series creator PAD and artist JK Woodward will both be back for more when the book returns.

    Sunday, December 14, 2008

    IDW's new releases for December 17

    Angel: After the Fall #15
    Dead, She Said HC
    Fallen Angel #32
    Ghostbusters: The Other Side #3
    John Byrne's Compleat Next Men Vol. 2 TPB
    Spaghetti Bros Vol. 2 HC
    Star Trek TNG: The Last Generation #2
    Swallow Book 5
    Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Movie Prequel: Alliance #1
    Underworld Movie Triology TPB
    Wormwood: Down the Pub one-shot

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    Personal GROOMing

    Yet another image from the otherworldly Ben Templesmith for our upcoming GROOM LAKE. The truth is in here, dammit.

    Monday, December 8, 2008

    Drift 2: Electric Boogaloo

    I have no idea how that amazing image of Drift I posted yesterday evoked so many angry (and mostly Anonymous) responses, but let's see if today's similarly outstanding image does the same. Remember, everyone, comics are supposed to be fun. Casey and Joana, take 2:

    Sunday, December 7, 2008

    Alas, poor Autobots...

    This past weekend, we did the first annual IDW Customer Appreciation Sale in our parking lot, but Tiffany "lonegamer8" Wong from managed to get past our crack security squad (damned unreliable robots! Good thing they're better at fighting zombies than they are at crowd control) and came into the office where she caught TF scribe Chris Mowry and me re-enacting "Hamlet" and then got into the action herself.


    In ALL AIL MEGATRON, we were able to create our first-ever all-new toy-bound Transformers, Drift. And in April, Drift will be getting his own Spotlight issue, courtesy of Drift creator Shane McCarthy and artist Casey Coller. Here--and tomorrow with their variant cover--Coller and artist Joana Lafuente create something really special with their cover for the book.

    Angel: During the Fall?

    Since this cover, which I just got today, already seems to be making the rounds on the net, I figure I should spread it around further. Alex Garner's cover to ANGEL 16.

    In Rhode Island now for a few days, so in honor of this Hasbro trip, the next couple days will see some brand-new Transformers artwork that hasn't been shown anywhere yet, and both of which will be for an upcoming Spotlight issue.

    In trade, if anyone can do anything about this Rhode Island weather being a good 45 degrees colder than where I woke up this morning, that'd be great.

    IDW's new releases for December 10

    There are a few debut issues this time around, and a few unique Steve Niles projects, too (including AMERICAN FREAKSHOW, an original graphic novel in which I appear as a gun-totin' murderer):

    30 Days of Night: 30 Days 'Til Death #1
    American Freakshow TPB
    Doctor Who Classics Series 2 #1
    Epilogue #3
    Freaks of the Heartland TPB
    Ghost Whisperer: Muse #1
    Swallow Book 5
    Transformers: Maximum Dinobots #1
    Transformers: More than Meets the Eye Vol. 2 TPB

    Saturday, December 6, 2008

    It's a Good iPhone

    What does this entry's title mean? Well, it's a play on the title of a popular TWILIGHT ZONE episode featuring Billy Mumy, the powerful little kid who forced an entire town to tell him his actions were "good" or else they were sent to the cornfield. But what does it mean as a blog entry?

    Well, up today is another one of our comics at iTunes--a classic STAR TREK comic written by Peter David and Bill Mumy himself. The story, part 1 of 4, is taken from our STAR TREK ARCHIVES: THE BEST OF PETER DAVID, and it's downloadable to your iPhone or iPod Touch for a buck. It joins (so far) GHOST WHISPERER and CLIVE BARKER'S THE THIEF OF ALWAYS at iTunes right now, with much more to come.