IDW Editor-In-Chief Chris Ryall Speaks With SEIBERTRON.com
After big news is announced it's usually pretty hard to get in touch with the people who can give some sort of insight as to what is going to be happening. And if you can get ahold of them they're usually to busy to be able to answer alot of questions.
KingMob: Chris, can you tell us a little about IDW to kick things off, like how long the company has been around and where did you start with regards to your first publishings?
Chris Ryall: Weâ€™ve been around for five years nowâ€”we started as a creative services company but began publishing comics in 2001, with 30 Days of Night.
KingMob: I gathered that you were doing the adaptation of Shaun of the Dead, which is one of my favourite films of recent years. Have you done any other projects we should check out?
Chris Ryall: Shaun of the Dead (four parts, starting at the end of this month) is my first published comic as writer. For the past three years, Iâ€™ve been working for filmmaker Kevin Smith, and then joined up at IDW a year ago. And for my next trickâ€¦ Iâ€™ll be doing an extended 5-part adaptation of George A. Romeroâ€™s Land of the Dead. I also have a chapter in the recently published book Superheroes and Philosophy. Iâ€™ll also start really pushing this new horror magazine weâ€™re doing in October, where Iâ€™m adapting short stories from people like Richard Matheson, Robert Bloch, F. Paul Wilson and David J. Schow. And thereâ€™s a big Clive Barker project looming next year, tooâ€¦ and maybe at some point, Iâ€™ll feel confident enough to take a crack at Transformers myself.
KingMob: Many Transformer fans appeared to be slightly in the dark about IDW when the license announcement was made. Many people seemed to know IDW primarily as a horror-comic publisher; another query was if you have a 'house-style'.
Chris Ryall: Not at all. Weâ€™ve tried to go more for a â€œEuropeanâ€ feel in our horror art, to set more of a mood than typical superhero-type art, but we donâ€™t have a house style at all. Iâ€™d point to not only work by Ben Templesmith, but also guys like Andy Kuhn (Easy Way), Igor Kordey (Smoke), David Messina (Angel), Gabriel Rodriguez (Land of the Dead and CSI) and Zach Howard (Shaun of the Dead) to really show the diverse styles we look for.
KingMob: What kind of Transformer comic can we look forward to coming from IDW?
Chris Ryall: Damned good ones! I think everyone will be very please with not only the story Simonâ€™s writing, but also with the art from EJ Su. And thereâ€™s lots more to come next year, too.
KingMob: It's been mentioned that the initial Transformer title will be somewhat inspired by Marvel's 'Ultimate' titles. Is this just in the context of a modern setting and updated concept, or will there be a sense of 'widescreen' storytelling, or decompression?
Chris Ryall: I mentioned USM only in the context of updating the book and essentially â€œrestartingâ€ the continuity, but in regards to story, weâ€™re gonna pack an awful lot into each issue. Iâ€™m very wary of not padding out stories for the TPBs. Not that USM is doing this as far as I know, but Iâ€™m just not one for the whole idea of â€œdecompression.â€ That word should maybe be switched with â€œmeanderingâ€ in a lot of books that say theyâ€™re doing decompressed storylines. I like when things actually happen in an issue.
KingMob: On Comic Book Resources it was reported that IDW were interested in making some "unique mini-series" for the Transformers. If these minis went ahead, would they be stand-alone from the continuity in the main book?
Chris Ryall: They would, yeah. The issue of Wizard thatâ€™s due out right before Comicon will have more details about this plan.
KingMob: You've said we can expect some Beast Wars comics to celebrate that series' 10th anniversary next year - cheers for that by the way - would this, and other Transformer titles have the same creative team as that announced for the initial title, or do you have other artist and writer combinations in mind?
Chris Ryall: I have people in mind, and Simon, who was set to write a Beast Wars mini for Dreamwave before theâ€¦ well, before, is definitely going to be involved. Iâ€™ll hold off on announcing any artist just yet.
KingMob: One thing about IDW books that stands out is that you seem to capture the look of a product really well, and have artists that use different media - thinking of Silent Hill, CSI, Metal Gear Solid, 24 for example. It'd be neat to see these kinda styles applied to the Transformers somehow...an anthology book featuring different interpretations would be really cool.
Chris Ryall: Or if not an anthology book, maybe some cool miniseries or one-shotsâ€¦
KingMob: Speaking of different takes, I noticed that Angel: The Curse will be shipping with variant covers by some great artists, Tim Bradstreet and Jill Thompson to name but two. Are there plans to do anything like this with the Transformers?
Chris Ryall: Probably. I figure, as long as the covers are offered in equal percentages so thereâ€™s no price-gouging going on, itâ€™s fun to offer different interpretations of the characters on the covers. Some artists donâ€™t have the time to do an entire book, but itâ€™s still fun to see what theyâ€™d do with a cover. There are a lot of good TF artists out there, and since we donâ€™t want to flood the market with too many TF books, this is a nice way to give a lot of people a chance to take a crack at the characters.
KingMob: Still on creators, we understand IDW has been in touch with Don Figeroa and Andrew Wildman? Have there been any other contacts with previous TF creators you can tell us about?
Chris Ryall: Weâ€™ve talked to Guido Guidi and James Raiz, among others, both of whom are doing some work for us now. With more to come.
KingMob: Stopping briefly at the Dreamwave material; do you know if there's any timeline available at the minute for the unprinted (and any other) items to be freed up from the legal issues and ready for you?
Chris Ryall: Unfortunately, no. This is all between Dreamwave and Hasbro. I never really see court cases resolved quickly, so while Iâ€™m hopeful this one will be, you never know.
KingMob: I think it was Igor Kordey that said IDW are about "fresh creative minds and creative freedom". There's some great talent in the TF fandom, are you happy to take submissions?
Chris Ryall: Igor said that? Thatâ€™s cool. I love the guy. Iâ€™ll do everything I can to get a TF cover out of him. At the moment, we canâ€™t really take any more outside submissions, simply because there isnâ€™t the spaceâ€”we only have one monthly TF book right now, and until some of the other plans firm up, thereâ€™s not other openings now. But as we get into the TF launch in â€™06, there will definitely be other opportunities. Iâ€™m looking at a couple other options to get fans involved, too.
KingMob: You've been doing a lot of publicity and popping up on messageboards recently, which is great ... how're you finding interacting with the fans?
Chris Ryall: Equal parts really fun and really scaryâ€¦ itâ€™s great hearing from everyone and seeing the level of passion that so many fans still have for the Transformers. I love being involved with a project that helps return a property to fans who still love it and have had to do without it for the past half-year or more.
KingMob: Sometimes I think you'd need to do an Ultimate Secret Crisis on Infinite Cybertrons to try and please everyone...will the internet break in half when you launch the TF book?
Chris Ryall: I hope so! Itâ€™d be fun to know we broke the Internet. But I donâ€™t think so. I think, like with any comic, there will be people who like it and there will be others who wish it was something else. But I do think the people who like what weâ€™re doing will far outweigh the naysayers.
KingMob: How's interacting with Hasbro working out? Have they made any requests for a Cybertron book?
Chris Ryall: Not yet. They did show some footage of the show when we were there, and it looked great. I liked the look and feel much more than Armada, I have to say. Weâ€™re all waiting to see how the showâ€™s received by fans, and to see if Hasbro decides they do want a comic based on the show. I hope soâ€”I really like the story behind the show and think it could make for a great comic series.
KingMob: We've heard a little about alt-mode changes for the Transformers cast, but they all seem to be about the Decepticons. Is there anything about the Autobots you can tell us?
Chris Ryall: All I can really say is, whatever youâ€™re used to seeing the characters transform into wonâ€™t be far removed from what theyâ€™ll be in our comics. We might freshen some looks a bit, but weâ€™re not doing anything arbitrarily, nor do we want to change up what the fans are used to seeing.
KingMob: And are there any issues with car companies not keen on their images being used?
Chris Ryall: Weâ€™ll avoid that altogether, I think.
KingMob: Any info on plans for the human characters you can tell us about? Should we be looking forward to some interference in Transformer affairs?
Chris Ryall: Well, the Transformers have been on Earth a lot longer than any human character in the books have been alive, so it seems to me that someone or other wouldâ€™ve discovered them along the way. Tough to keep anything that size hidden foreverâ€¦ so Iâ€™m sure that certain people in various countriesâ€™ governments know of them, and have their own plans. They might even be working with themâ€¦ and also working to discredit the average person who reports a sighting. But Iâ€™m sure there are Web sites and conspiracy sites out there that talk about these sightingsâ€¦ which is a small tease for something weâ€™re going to drop on everyone between now and when the 0 issue launches.
KingMob: Cheers for taking time to respond to us, it's cool of you; I'd get you a pint and a packet of pork scratchings in return anytime.
Chris Ryall: Deal!
KingMob: By the way, you've got red on you.
Chris Ryall: Itâ€™s not mine, though, itâ€™s Phillipâ€™s.
KingMob: Thanks, man!