We sat down with IDW Publishing President and COO Greg Goldstein at San Diego Comic-Con to talk about the market and what’s going on at IDW.  In Part 2 of this two-part interview, we talk about what IDW’s doing with its key licenses Hasbro and Star Wars, the status of its move to an exchange listing, and the company’s key releases in comics and games for the rest of 2017.  In Part 1, we talked about the down market in comic stores and what’s happening in bookstores, the mass channel, and game stores.

We always like to talk with IDW about the interaction between comics and other media.  Hasbro’s obviously got a lot going on in the media space, especially in movies, but we noticed recently IDW’s First Strike event is set in the Transformers' home world (see "'First Strike' Hasbro Crossover"), and then we saw, "Oh, that's where they're going with the next movie."  It seemed like in this case, the comics were sort of leading into that storyline.  Is that what's happening?
Yeah.  There's a parallel between what Hasbro is planning and what we're planning and executing.  It's obviously less expensive to execute some of these really big ideas in comics, which is one of the appeals of developing comics and graphic novels for films.

To Hasbro's credit, they have a lot of big ideas that they'd like to realize.  Our comics Hasbro universe is not directly tied into what they're planning for the film universe, primarily for the fact that to get their big picture is going to take a number of years.

We're fortunate that they've let us just run with some really great ideas.  First Strike is one of them, and there'll be a lot of interesting launches out of First Strike in terms of characters interacting with characters that we haven't seen before, team‑ups, and some fun things for people that are interested in these properties and hopefully for some new people that'll come on board.

Is IDW going to have a presence at HasCon (see "Stan Lee to Appear at First HASCON")?
We are, actually.  We're one of the sponsors.  We're sponsoring the Artist's Alley there, and we will be there.

What do you think of this trend of IP owners doing their own events?  We just had D23 last weekend, the second or third. Hasbro's now doing their own thing.  Obviously, there's a lot of money in events. IP owners are starting to see that, and want to get closer to their customers.  What do you think about that trend and the potential impact on the convention business overall?
I like the latter point that you made about getting closer to the consumers.  Obviously, these are corporations.  They're looking at the financial opportunity.

But engaging their consumers, I think, obviously, we've seen Disney and Lucasfilm do a really great job with that.

Oh, yeah, Star Wars Celebration is the other one.  That's been going on for a while.
In the course of Star Wars, I thought I was geeked out on Star Wars, but I have friends that are apparently even more geeked out on Star Wars than I am, and they love going.  It's become a pilgrimage to see their friends that are as into it as they are, that shared passion.

The broader question is, "What do I think about the trend?"  I think it's good, because I think the IP owners get to connect with their fans, who are learning about some of the ancillary products.  We know there are people who just aren't aware there are Transformer comics out there, despite the fact that we're available in print and digital, and we've been in fun packs and other categories.  There are still people that just don't know.

You mentioned Star Wars. One of the things we were wondering about the Star Wars kids comics you're doing under license (see "IDW to Produce 'Star Wars' Kids Comics") was why the floppy format?
Again, based on the success we've had with some of the all‑ages product for the direct market, it seemed to make sense to do both.  Obviously, My Little Pony is still a great seller in the direct market.  A handful of others have done really well.

If felt like, "Why couldn't Star Wars exist at the direct market level in the comics as well as in the collections and stand‑alone graphic novels?"  They are all-ages.  Maybe I'm the wrong person to ask, because I happen to like all-ages comics, whether they're Tiny Titans, or whether they're Star Wars. I just like that format.

Then you're the person that says that all-ages really is all-ages, and it's not code for "kids," right?
Right.  I'm that guy. [laughs]

In an interview last year, [IDW Media Holdings CEO] Ted [Adams was talking about a move up to an exchange listing, and you've moved up a couple of levels, but you're not quite there yet (see "ICv2 Interview: IDW's Ted Adams--Part 2").  What's going on with that?

Goldstein:  [laughs]  Yeah.  There are a lot of pros and cons.  Obviously we have to look at cost, moving on to the exchange level, and the priorities and interests of our investors and our chairman.  That could happen in six months or it could happen in a year.  That's probably Ted's answer last year, too.

Yes, it was.

What are you most excited about coming from IDW through the end of the year?
There are a lot of great things that have been announced. Obviously, First Strike, you referenced.  Star Wars Adventures, I think, just based on the feedback we're getting, is going to be great.

Goosebumps is very exciting (see "Comic Series Will Give Readers 'Goosebumps'").  It's the first time it's been in comic book format.  Goosebumps is either 20 or 25 years old at this point.

Scholastic did graphic novels, right?
They did, but they did them from the perspective of Scholastic as opposed to the perspective of the comic book market.

How about on the game side?
You've referenced Korra for later in the year, Dragon Ball Z

We’re doing a Nickelodeon all-properties (all their '90s properties).  It's going to be a big game.  We're very well ahead on the design stage, and it looks great (see "IDW Licenses Nickelodeon Characters for Game Line").

Anything else going on at IDW that you would want our readers to know about?
We didn't get a chance to talk about "Black Crown," which is the creator‑driven line that Shelly Bond is launching (see "Shelly Bond Joins IDW").  Shelly's got a really great vision, and has been a ball of fire developing creative teams, bringing ideas, developing ideas, really getting the ball rolling on this.

We launch in October in Kid Lobotomy (see "IDW Publishing Announces New Imprint Releases").  We have a number of great titles coming after that.  Again, this is a real opportunity.  I think Shelly's concept of the Black Crown is the pub in this fictional town where all the IPs have some sort of relationship to the actual town, but the pub's the center.

That seems like a challenging remit, actually.
It is, but she seems exactly the right person for it.  Her enthusiasm, I'd really like to translate what she has into everyone in the editorial business, not just at IDW, everywhere.  She's upbeat, energetic, super smart, and creative.  It's been great working with her these last three months.

How many titles in that line are going to be out this year?
The first one launches in October, so I think probably just two in the calendar year.  Then we'll do a handful. We're going to keep it to a reasonable amount of titles that people can follow without getting too lost in the multitude of things.

I think as we announce the different creative teams, I think people will be excited.

Between her and Karen [Berger] (see "Dark Horse Details First 'Berger Books' Releases"), both coming out of really strong backgrounds with one of the larger publishers, it'll be interesting to see what they do with their new homes.
We certainly saw the Berger Books announcement the other day.  Karen's taking a different approach to things than Shelly is.  I think that's great for the consumers, and I think that's great for the retailers.

And then there’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #73 makes IDW's run of Turtles the longest run of any TMNT comic in the history of the 30 some‑odd years of TMNT.  Issue 75 is a special issue with a great hook.  We're launching it in October on Turtles day, and there'll be a number of events. It's exciting.  We continue to get the most amazing reviews for any superhero comic that you would see, includin g a number that have compared us consistently favorably to the top tier titles from Marvel and DC.

Click here to go back to Part 1.