Chris Ryall is a comic book writer and Chief Creative Officer/Editor-in-Chief of IDW Publishing. Despite being swamped with preparations for IDW’s participation in the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con, he has graciously agreed to talk with us about writing and publishing.
IDW Publishing currently publishes a wide range of comic books and graphic novels including titles based on Angel, Doctor Who, GI Joe, Star Trek, Terminator: Salvation, and Transformers. Creator-driven titles include ‘Fallen Angel’ by Peter David and JK Woodward, ‘Locke & Key’ by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, and a variety of titles by writer Steve Niles including ‘Wake the Dead’, ‘Epilogue’, and ‘Dead, She Said’.
Artists Ashley Wood and Ben Templesmith are both exclusive to the company, and their titles include ‘Lore’, ‘Popbot’, ‘Sparrow’, ‘Swallow’, ‘Zombies vs. Robots’ (Wood) and ‘Groom Lake’, ‘Singularity 7’, ‘Welcome to Hoxford’, and ‘Wormwood’ (Templesmith). Both Wood and Templesmith have been nominated for multiple Eisner Awards.
For what age audience does IDW publish?
Pretty much all at this point–comics like My Little Pony have brought us younger readers, down to 6-8 or so, and we do a wide array for the 15+ crowd, too. We don’t do many superhero books, but cover horror, fantasy, action/adventure, and have dabbled in sci fi, crime, westerns and others.
Henry: I’m looking forward to seeing Ashley Wood’s interpretation of My Little Pony vs. Zombies…
Tell us about your latest publication
I just sent the final issue of my series ‘The Colonized’ (zombies vs aliens) to press, and am co-writing a Kiss Kids comic aimed at all-ages readers, too.
Henry: Zombies AND Aliens – what’s not to like?
What do you hope readers will get from that?
An enjoyable read, which is all I ask of any of our comics.
What aspect of publishing do you find most challenging?
The non-stop aspect of it. Deadlines never let up, and the fact that there’s so much good material out there, but limited space makes it a challenge. I hate to say “no” to good projects, but you have to at times.
What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a publisher?
Don’t be afraid to say “no”. Stringing people along because I don’t want to make them feel bad is never a good thing, whereas sometimes “no” can serve as impetus to prove me wrong. At least, I hope that’s the case.
Henry: So, sometimes your mouth says “no”, but your heart say “yes”. :) So, my idea for My Little Pony vs. Zombies…
What is a memorable experience you’ve had?
Hard to cite one example, but they happen almost daily. My first week on the job, I was on a panel with Will Eisner. I’ve developed incredible friendships with some of the most creative and inspiring people I could ever hope to meet, and had many chances to work with childhood heroes. All of that makes this incredibly gratifying and enriching, even on the more challenging days.
Henry: I totally agree. I’ve gotten to meet authors and illustrators (and publishers!) I admire.
What advice would you give to aspiring graphic novel authors or illustrators?
You’ve got to love this business. It’s frustrating, humbling, and requires great patience and great love. Overnight success stories are very hard to come by, and often even the most successful “breakout” creators spent years in obscurity, proving they had what it took and honing their craft.
Do you have any favorite quotes?
I’ve always been partial to the line from that song from Willy Wonka, “There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination.”
Henry: Nice. Gene Wilder all the way. I also like, “So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
Click to view the rest of this interview at Henry Herz’s blog on fantasy and science fiction books for kids