IDW's new publisher talks about comics and pandemic
Speaker 1: (00:00)
San Diego based. I D w publishing is one of the top four publishers of comic books and graphic novels in the us, like so many businesses. It has had to make adjustments during the pandemic. Currently its staff is still working remotely, but keeping busy, K PBS arts reporter, Beth Amando checks in with its new publisher. She Marc who took over in the fall of 2020 in the midst of the pandemic.
Speaker 2: (00:26)
So what have been some of the challenges for I D w during this pandemic, and especially for you coming in, in the midst of it?
Speaker 3: (00:34)
I think the biggest challenge for IDW has been that comics and graphic novels in generally are very collaborative storytelling environment, whether it's specifically multiple people working on, uh, a single issue of a comic or, or even a, a, a small creative team working on a graphic novel of their own. And that certainly tails into kind of the office culture as well with things. And, and I think the biggest challenge that everyone's been dealing with and that I've 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, and to have life not just kind of turn into a bunch of snippets of like 30 minutes. Talk about this 30 minutes to talk about this 30 minutes to talk about this while still, literally having enough structure in the day to do all of that is something that we're literally talking about every single month and trying to make sure we can have a decent balance of, but that's certainly not going away, uh, anytime immediately soon. Now,
Speaker 2: (01:32)
One thing that may have helped in a certain way, cuz I know I've, um, I've interviewed some of your predecessors there mm-hmm is there's been this increase in kind of the glow contribution of contributors because of the ability to transfer files digitally and not have to be in the same room as whoever it is, is creating your artwork. So did some of that kind of groundwork of those kind of collaborations prove to be really helpful during the pandemic? Certainly
Speaker 3: (02:03)
The ease of being able to have the other side of that coin, where, where you can't all be in the same place, but that means you can actually be anywhere, has made it easier for us to continue working with creative talent when, when we're actually talking about getting the common and graphic novels done. But it also, 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 or anything like that. Obviously we don't know what the future looks like. And I would certainly love for everyone to actually, you know, for me to meet my coworkers in person and all of that. But we are, we are certainly trying to make sure we can take advantage of that. And so it certainly does make a, a slightly easier environment when we're hunting for new talent or just trying to kind of keep the machine running as it was
Speaker 2: (02:52)
Before the pandemic, there was a push for digital comics and there there's a lot of comics that are available, uh, online. So during this pandemic, has there been a greater, uh, push towards digital or just, uh, more interest in what the possibilities are? Um, what kind of conversations have you had about that?
Speaker 3: (03:11)
It hasn't been a push in the ways that I think a lot of people were initially expecting in terms of just kind of boiling all down to press tax. Like if you're not going into places and you want to read comics, how are you going to do that? 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 ly focus on the thing that they are reading that said, will you have definitely seen that, especially on the, the library side that has library closures have had to happen often and on throughout the course of the pandemic that we've seen a increase of been business from digital library services, which is also fantastic. There are a lot of great companies out there that are doing really good work to make sure that people who are who's kind of lifeline for reading in general, be acknowledged entertainment, whatever it might be are through the libraries can continue to have that lifeline in as many ways as humanly possible. So, yeah, I've been excited to see that how up and over the course of time.
Speaker 2: (04:21)
So we are now poised on the beginning of a new year, 2022. What are you looking forward to this year or concerns or what kind of is your crystal ball for 2022?
Speaker 3: (04:34)
Um, the fact that if you had asked me this question, like 14 days ago, I feel like I would've had a different answer, but I is how complicated 2022 is going to be. It really is the kind of, for us normalization of what it at certain times seemed kind of like a chaotic environment. And now is kind of like Tuesday when, when we're dealing with things where we are making the best plans humanly possible, but then understanding that when we come into work, come into work, when we turn on our computers in the morning or whatever, that we might have to do a 180 and pivot and say, where are we planning on going to the show? Does that show still exist? What are we doing instead? Or are we planning on trying to do in-person events with an author about X, Y, or Z?
Speaker 3: (05:17)
Are they allowed to, and, or do they want to, what do we do instead? You know, we really wanna make sure that we are in a place where we can not just be scrubbing things, but being able to give alternates and all and, 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 convent in space and, and the fan interaction space within conventions. Um, over the course of the pandemic is something that's been really exciting for me to see. And can I ask
Speaker 2: (05:52)
If you have a memory of what kind of hooked you into comics?
Speaker 3: (05:57)
I do. I grew up on the upper west side of Manhattan and there was a, a comic shop, not too far from where I, I lived as a kid. We moved around a lot, but there was a kind of like a, a place that ended up being kind of equi distant to various kind of chaotic bouncing around that, that we were doing. It was a, a small shop, but the sort of place where like when an 11 year old came in and was like, I saw this thing on TV and it's, it sounds like there are comics that have giant robots in them and da, da, da, da, that, you know, instead of like looking down their nose and only talking to cool people about cool things, they're like, oh, you should spend your couple of dollars that you have on these robot tech comics or like, oh, that they, that those people are talking about is like 20 years of Xmen continuity.
Speaker 3: (06:41)
You don't have the money for that. But like, here's this classic issue of whatever that references the things that were being talked about. And it was less a single issue. Although there are certainly things that kind of stand out in time for, for me, and more just idea of like being able to go to a place. I was a kid to like talk to strangers in bookstores about the things that they were into or anything like that. But being able to just kind of like almost go to a place where you could be around people who wanted to be like that and be like, oh, I guess I could ask a question. And then like four weeks later, like build up the kind of guts to ask a question and come out with a couple cool comics from it. That is what hooked me, because there's always something new coming out that, you know, the, the idea of being able to go someplace every single week and, and be able to, you know, get something new, then be able to get the follow up to whatever, you know, cliff hanger was kind of, um, stringing me along in the best way possible at the time that really made me love the kind of serialized storytelling version of things.
Speaker 3: (07:39)
And then it just kind of grew and blossomed over time. I wanna
Speaker 2: (07:42)
Thank you very much for talking to me about I D w making it through this
Speaker 3: (07:47)
Pandemic. No, my pleasure. Thank you for the time. And for reaching out, that
Speaker 1: (07:51)
Was Beth. Amando speaking with ID W's new publisher and she marsh,
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.
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."
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.