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.”
Do you have any strange work rituals?
I notice that in order to keep up with the daily onslaught, I tend to reply to all e-mails as I’m reading them. So, at times, I’ll end up contradicting myself in a reply because I hadn’t read the whole message before starting to reply.
Henry: Or as Willy Wonka would say, “So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.” It just struck me Chris. You ARE the Willy Wonka of graphic novels.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
The ability to stop time so I could actually catch up on things.
If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?
Rod Serling, Harlan Ellison, and Neil Gaiman. Their body of work and varied interests are answer enough, and all were/are strong personalities. I’m lucky enough to be friends with Harlan, and he is always interesting to talk to over a meal.
What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?
The Hulk. Because Hulk smash. Always good to have someone ready to smash your enemies for you.
Henry: Yes, The Hulk is the correct answer because Hulk smash. Just ask Loki.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Write… which means I’m really never not working. But since I enjoy it, it never feels like work. That and spend time with my daughter, who is also a big reader already, even at age 7.
Henry: My sons and I will have a new book out for your daughter (and others) soon. 🙂
What would you like it to say on your tombstone?
“Sorry, I’m not accepting any more pitches.”
Henry: You’ll still figure out a way. Dropbox?
Where can readers find out more about IDW?
IDW’s website. I’m also on Twitter at @chris_ryall and I post a lot of artwork at a Tumblr page called Ryall’s Files, too. This year, IDW is at SDCC booth 2643.
Here are some sample IDW publications:
Fallen Angel by Peter David and JK Woodward
One of the most critically acclaimed series of 2004 makes the jump to IDW, as new artist J.K. Woodward introduces readers to the enigmatic city of Bete Noire.
Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
Wake the Dead by writer Steve Niles
Popbot by Ashley Wood
Popbot is an award-winning prestige format comic book written & illustrated by Ashley Wood. It features an eclectic cast of characters starring a talking rock star cat, his robot bodyguard, sexy women, robot-ninja assassins & more.
This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.