FOR TOMMY: TED ADAMS
Ted Adams is
the President/Publisher/Thing of IDW, which stands for Idea
+ Design Works. Personally I'm annoyed that the plus in their
title isn't reflected in their acronym. Was IDPW or even ID+W
too hard for them? Clearly. There's been a long campaign for
the recognition of both plus signs and ampersands in acronyms
of late and I feel ashamed that IDW (how I hate to type it)
is yet to recognize the shift in society towards such marginalized
punctuation. Nevertheless, despite such a clear barrier for
right-minded people, I agreed to interview Ted Adams for Waiting
For Tommy. IDW (ugh) are behind such hits as 30 Days Of Night,
Lurid, Dawn Of The Dead, Wynona Earp, 24, The Shield, CSI
and similar dark, ink-splattered comics. But despite the glossy
finish (although some of those pages can stick together),
IDW's always reminded me of a cross between Dark Horse and
Wildstorm. Turns out there's a reason for that.
JOHNSTON: IDW - is it the cool Dark Horse, a smattering
of licenses and creator owned work, just without the Diamond
Premier status? Was Dark Horse an influence at all on range
the projects IDW publishes, or were there greater influences?
Or are you unique, spinning in the middle of Previews? Basically,
what makes your company tick - that eludes other wannabees?
TED ADAMS: I wouldn't say that Dark Horse has been
an influence on us, other than I worked at Dark Horse (and
Eclipse before that) and I consider both Dean Mullaney and
Mike Richardson as mentors. I also worked at WildStorm for
a long time and for a shorter time at Todd McFarlane Productions.
What make us tick?
We get excited by great stories and art. That's what gets
everyone here out of bed in the morning and is the sole reason
we're publishing comics. IDW Publishing is a division of Idea
and Design Works, LLC -- a company that just celebrated its
fifth anniversary. Long before we published our first book,
we were providing artwork and graphic design to a wide range
of clients. Doing everything you can imagine, including collectible
card game design, custom comic books, logo design, DVD menus,
character design, advertising art, etc... That side of our
business has been profitable from day one and continues to
allow us to take chances on projects that might be passed
on by others.
But "Comics" is the reason most people in the industry get
out of bed. Most people in the industry could earn what you're
doing elsewhere for more. Hell, you guys do. Comics always
has to be a labor of love to some degree. And everyone seems
to straddle two worlds to keep the comics side going, IDW
may do it more blatantly. What lessons did you learn at the
companies you mentioned? What were they doing right - and
TED: I agree that comic publishing is a labor of love
but I do want to make it clear that our publishing division
is profitable. It could stand on its own without the creative
service business. I'd probably be more conservative but we
would make money.
Eclipse and Dark Horse I learned the value of having a publishing
mix that includes licensed books and creator-driven books.
Dean and Mike are both really smart entrepreneurs and I have
that same spirit. Because they aren't driven by a board of
directors or shareholders, they have the freedom to do things
differently. We have that same freedom.
my first opportunity to manage a large number of projects
and employees. I had the business education but hadn't yet
had the chance to run a big budget department. I'd always
wanted to run my own company and my experience at WildStorm
gave me the confidence I needed to actually do it. Jim Lee
and John Nee were terrific mentors. They gave me a general
direction, provided advice when I needed it, but generally
left me to do things as I saw fit. WildStorm was also a unique
place in that it had some of the best employees I've ever
encountered. It was a great group of people. I met some of
my best friends at WildStorm and all of the owners of IDW
come from there. It was a special place.
At McFarlane I
helped Terry Fitzgerald open their LA based entertainment
office. It gave me the chance to learn how Hollywood deals
are done. Our media deals are better because of the time I
spent at McFarlane. Todd's a smart guy, who has had so much
success that he's generally unwilling to negotiate. Because
he doesn't need any particular deal, he's always willing to
walk away from the table. I learned something from that.
What deals have you walked away from that others may have
grasped with desperation glinting in their eyes?
TED: We pass on a lot of licenses and I've seen several
of those come out from other companies. I've also walked away
from many creator driven books. There are a lot of attorneys
in the US who have completely unrealistic expectations when
it comes to their comic book clients.
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