Part 1, we talked about comics, including the Direct Market, variants, the book channel, mass, and digital.
Two years at this show you were just launching the games side of IDW (see "Ted Adams on Licenses in IDW Games"). There have been a number of products since then and you’ve found some success. What’s your read on the current state of the games market and IDW’s position in it?
Ted Adams: I don’t have nearly the experience in the game market that I do in the comic market, but from our perspective, the games market is really solid. We’re seeing a lot of interest for a lot of different products. We’ve had huge success with Machi Koro that we brought over from Japan; that’s worked in all channels, literally every single channel. We have a version of that game that’s going to be in Target through this holiday season (see "'Machi Koro' Hits the Big Time"). They’ve taken a terrific order for that, so it’s been successful for them. We also have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles miniatures game that’s coming out that’s way exceeded our expectations (see "IDW Games Unveils 'TMNT' Board Game Details"). So it’s really been a nice marketplace for us, and one of the things where we have a strategic advantage is, that because we’re primarily a comic book publisher, we actually had the top two board games as measured by Diamond last month. Because comic stores know us and have comfort with us, they’re picking up our games, probably in a way they probably wouldn’t if it were manufactured by somebody else.
Were they comic brands?
Not really, they were Back to the Future and X-Files. We do comics around them but I think people would think of them as TV brands or movie brands.
So it’s been good. Certainly a market that we’re excited about. We’re not looking to expand too quickly, and we’re not trying to be a company that’s going to do two or three games a month. I tell my games team that we’re much better off taking a slower approach, making sure everything is of really high quality and then really focusing our energy on marketing and selling a smaller number of games and not try to bite off more than we can chew.
What are you doing with media development? How long ago did you start your division?
We started IDW Entertainment about three years ago. Our first show, Wynonna Earp, aired 13 episodes on Syfy, and we’re expecting to make an announcement on a second season during Comic-Con (see "Geek TV Comic-Con Round-Up"). It’s all about… they’re fun characters. The dialogue is really good. It’s got a really strong LGBT relationship that’s not a pandering relationship so that’s really been embraced. The show has an unbelievable social media presence. If you search for Wynonna Earp on Twitter you will be overwhelmed with the number of the people that are talking about the show all the time. It’s literally 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The show has found a really avid fan base, and we’re looking to build on that as we hopefully head into season two. Super excited about that one.
Right now we’re shooting a show in Vancouver which is called Dirk Gently, which will be on BBC America starting October 22, and that’s eight episodes.
We are out right now with an animated version of our property Wormwood, which was created by Ben Templesmith. We’re out to the networks for that one and hope to find a home for it.
Joe Hill is writing a pilot script for Locke & Key (see "'Locke & Key' Being Developed for TV"). We’ll have some big news on that in the relatively near future as well.
You were really close on Locke & Key before, so this is a totally new project?
Totally new. This is the first time that Joe’s written the script. He turned in the first draft and it’s extraordinary. It’s some of the best writing I’ve ever read as far as a script goes, so we’re really fortunate to have him handling the scripting on his own baby. Really excited about that one.
One of the things happening in the movies is that everyone wants to make a universe. One of your big licensors, Hasbro, is working on developing a universe of their properties. How is that going to manifest itself in the comics space?
We’re on different paths. They’re doing their movie universe and we’re doing our Revolution crossover which starts in September. They’re not interrelated at all. We’re doing our version that will be comic books only, and then they’re going to do their huge movie version separately.
You took over as CEO of the holding company a year ago (see "Corporate Reorganization to Lead IDW to Exchange Listing"). How has that changed the business and how has it changed your role?
As far as my role, I have less time to be involved operationally with the IDW businesses because I’m attending investor conferences, doing shareholder meetings, all those kinds of public company jobs.
With that said, I am still very involved with the big picture decisions with all three major divisions, IDW Publishing, Games, and Entertainment but I’m not necessarily in the weeds as much creatively, on a title-by-title basis, as I used to be.
As far as what opportunities it presents for us. We just announced that we closed a $4 million capital raise which we did through people who already owned the stock (see "IDW Raising $4 Million"). Robbie [Robbins], my business partner, and I were a pretty big part of that capital raise as well.
Being the only public company that’s a publisher of comics that’s not part of a giant organization allows us to have access to capital that some of our peers don’t have. I can use that money to finance any number of things. Certainly we’re going to use some of it to finance the shows. We could use that money to attract talent that we’re not currently working with on the publishing business. We could get licenses for games or publishing and potentially even use it for acquisitions. I have access to capital that some of our peers don’t. The market cap for IDW is about $200 million.
How close are you to getting an exchange listing?
We have announced that we are looking to uplist. Now that the capital raise is done, that will be the next thing that we step on the gas on.
You’ve mentioned a couple of products, but what are you excited about for this fall and next spring?
The big one for us is Revolution, the crossover we’re doing with Hasbro. We have the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe, which is a big Direct Market hit for us already. We have a couple of new Star Trek series that we’re going to be launching that play out after this current movie opens, so we’re pretty excited about that.
On the book side, we have the new Berkeley Breathed collection of Bloom County (see "'Bloom County Episode XI: A New Hope'"). We have Who Killed Kurt Cobain? (see "French Graphic Novel Biography of Kurt Cobain"), which is an interesting take on his life. It’s kind of a fictionalized biography of him that has the potential to find a big audience. Certainly John Lewis’s March Volume 3 is going to be a huge seller for us and will probably be our biggest seller this year. We’re doing a collection of Tom Tomorrow’s cartoons (see "Two Titles From Tom Tomorrow"), which I think has the chance to break out. It’s a selection of a lot of his Donald Trump strips plus a lot of other things, but certainly Trump is big part of it. We have a new book from Joe Hill, Tales from the Dark Side, which is a collection of his strips similar to what they’re doing with the Harry Potter script books. We think that’s going to do pretty well.
On the games side Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Machi Koro will be the two big things for us.
In Entertainment, you’ll see Dirk Gently at the end of October. That’ll be a big event for us.
March is so cool. Chris [Staros] had a lot of great stuff in his portfolio, but that really is a capstone.
It’s just so important. He’s a living American hero, so for him to be able to tell his autobiography through graphic novels with Andrew and Nate is a special thing to be a part of. I’m going to see him in a couple days at Comic-Con. He’s a powerful guy, not because he’s a politician, but because of the influence he’s had in the world. I admire him as much as you could admire anybody. To be associated with him in any way is a humbling experience.
Click here to go back to Part 1.
Games, Entertainment, Running a Holding Company, Upcoming Releases
Posted by Milton Griepp on August 17, 2016 @ 3:23 am CT
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