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IDW's new publisher talks about comics and pandemic

IDW covers.jpg
Courtesy of IDW
This week's comic book releases from IDW Publishing are shown in this undated photo: "Star Trek: The Mirror War #4," "Bermuda" Trade Paperback, and "Sea of Sorrows" Trade Paperback.

San Diego-based IDW Publishing is one of the top four publishers of comic books and graphic novels in the U.S.

Like so many businesses, IDW has had to make adjustments during the pandemic. Fortunately, it was able to continue printing and distributing comics with only minor disruptions during the past two years.

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Nachie Marsham took over as the company's new publisher in the fall of 2020 in the midst of the pandemic. Marsham has been overseeing the publishing side of the company, IDW also has an entertainment division that is producing shows like "Wynonna Earp" and "Locke and Key."

"I think the biggest challenge for IDW has been that comics and graphic novels in general are very collaborative storytelling environments, whether it's specifically multiple people working on a single issue of a comic or even a small creative team working on a graphic novel of their own," Marsham said. "So I think the biggest challenge that everyone's been dealing with since I came on board is just trying to figure out how to keep as much of that kind of open and collaborative environment to be able to be as creatively fostering as possible."

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But working remotely is something that has become easier for the comics industry with artists able to share their work digitally and instantly from anywhere in the world.

"It has made it advantageous for us in some places where we could make sure that we weren't kind of turning anyone away because, oh, here's an amazing candidate for a role, but they live in the Pacific Northwest or they live in the greater New York area," Marsham said. "I would certainly love to meet my coworkers in person and all of that, but we are certainly trying to make sure we can take advantage of that."

IDW has also continued to pursue making its work available in the digital realm for consumers and for libraries. But people still love the physical media.

"Obviously, having digital distribution for all of our stories is very helpful, but I think that a lot of companies that deal with physical media have found through the course of the pandemic that a lot of people are developing even more of an affinity for being able to have books that they can hold, have objects that they can hold, and to be able to kind of like singularly focus on the thing that they are reading," Marsham added.

As IDW heads into 2022, its staff work remotely and the company is being cautious about doing in-person events. At the moment, IDW has no plans to attend WonderCon in April in person but may try to do some sort of virtual component. For Marsham it's just about being flexible.

"We're making the best plans humanly possible, but then understanding that when we come into work, when we turn on our computers in the morning or whatever, that we might have to do a 180 and pivot," Marsham said. "So, were we planning on going to the show? Does that show still exist? What are we doing instead? Were we planning on trying to do in-person events with an author about X, Y, or Z? Are they allowed to and or do they want to? What do we do instead? We really want to make sure that we're in a place where we can not just be scrubbing things, but being able to give alternates and options for both our talent and our fans. For me, I'm really excited about the evolution of the ways that readers and fans interact with the comics industry in general. The evolution of the kind of convention space and the fan-interaction space within conventions over the course of the pandemic is something that's been really exciting for me to see."

So like the cliffhangers at the end of a weekly comic, you will just have to check back to see what happens next.