The New Kid: Chris Ryall on Being the EIC of IDW Publishing

Wed, June 30th, 2004 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Jonah Weiland, Executive Producer/Publisher

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[IDW Publishing]As you learned yesterday, IDW Publishing's Jeff Mariotte will be stepping down from his Editor-In-Chief position at the end of this month and Chris Ryall will be taking over. CBR News caught up with Ryall Tuesday evening to learn a bit more about who he is and what he'll bring to the publisher.

"I was smart enough to answer the phone the night Steve Niles called," Ryall told CBR News Tuesday night when asked how he landed the job. "He mentioned that Jeff was leaving and he thought that I might be a suitable replacement and asked if I'd be interested. I picked up my jaw, stammered a 'yes' and then was off to meet with Ted and his staff a couple days later. It all worked out from there. So yes, I'll be naming my first child 'Niles.'

"I just hope it turns out to be a boy."

The ever jovial Ryall is probably best known to most comic fans as the Editor-In-Chief and author of a column at Kevin Smith's MoviePoopShoot.com. He helped guide the site through its launch and has worked on developing content for the site.

"I think the creativity of that site and working for Kevin Smith in general is what made me well-suited for the position," continued Ryall. "But I've also worked as a copywriter for a number of years, which has required coordination with numerous art directors and other folks. Prior to that, I spent some time at Dick Clark's company in Burbank, where I worked with Stan Lee on his Stan Lee Media company, as well as some other projects.

[24: One Shot]"I think my past experience in developing creative content in tandem with any number of other talented people has given me a good head for working with artists and writers. Of course, a lifetime spent reading and writing about comics doesn't hurt, either.

Ryall's a Los Angeles native who'll be making the move to IDW's San Diego headquarters following the holiday weekend. He's looking forward to the chance of getting to spend some time with Mariotte and learning the tricks of the trade.

"I met Jeff on my initial interview, but he and I haven't had a chance to talk at length yet. However, he'll still be in the office for two weeks after I start, so I'll have ample time to press him for information. And clues about his next 'Desperadoes' book, too."

The position is still very fresh for Ryall, but already he's got a sense of what he'd like to accomplish in his new job.

"I think my role is two-fold (if not more-fold). I plan to carry on the work Jeff's done, in bringing innovative creators and new concepts to IDW. As Editor-in-Chief, it's my job to interface with writers and artists, keeping books on track and developing stories and working on plots and making sure we don't bring back polybagging. I also plan to be active in talking to retailers and helping how I can in the marketing of these books--I have a pretty solid marketing background, but not in a way that should frighten anyone. I promise, story first, polybagging never.

"I also plan to foist some of my ideas on the unsuspecting public as well..."

As a small publisher, IDW has found a lot of success with their books and has garnered media attention that rivals that of larger publishers. High-profile licenses like "The Shield," "24" and "Metal Gear Solid" couple with the continued success of Steve Niles' various books has the company on solid footing. With that in mind, we asked Ryall if there was such a thing as an "IDW Book" and if so, what is the formula for success?

"I think the formula is to put Steve Niles' name somewhere on the cover, even if we have to hide it the way Al Hirschfeld hid his daughter's name on his works," joked Ryall.

"No, seriously, I think an IDW book is, first and foremost, the place you go to read something beyond typical superhero fare. And when I say 'beyond,' I mean in terms of everything from storytelling to the art style to the printing process. This isn't a knock at those kinds of books, by any means -- I'm a big fan of dozens of monthly comics. But I think IDW has made a concerted effort to incorporate European influences into their art styles.

[Silent Hill]"IDW produces comics for people who don't normally read comics. If you're a fan of the characters and situation on popular action-packed TV shows or video games, check us out. We're telling the same kinds of stories. I think IDW's licensed properties are among the best, truest adaptations in the business."

For Ryall, his new position as Editor-In-Chief means putting on the back burner some creative projects he'd been working on, including a possible "Fused" spin-off book with Niles, but only for the time being. For now, Ryall's just excited about the opportunity and looking forward to getting started.

"I'd love to hear from everyone at this year's Comic-Con in San Diego and WizardWorld Chicago, just to see what kinds of ideas people have for IDW," said Ryall.

"If it's not apparent, I can't wait for the actual job to start!"

 
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