IDW Editor-In-Chief Chris Ryall Speaks With

Chris Ryall

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.

After the announcment came that IDW Publishing had won the rights to the Transformers comic lisence we were amazed to see Chris Ryall, editor-in-chief, post on Transformers fan sites to say hello. What was even more amazing was that after contacted Chris not only did he respond but he did it with amazing speed and even more amazing friendliness. He was very accomodating to us and he didn't have any hesitation about being asked some questions about IDW and what's in store for the Transformers comic series.

Our own KingMob had a chance to talk with Chris not only about Transformers but about some other sides of IDW that people may not know about.

KingMob 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 Chris Ryall: We’ve been around for five years now—we started as a creative services company but began publishing comics in 2001, with 30 Days of Night.

Since then, we’ve built the company in three areas: with our successful horror titles, our licensed properties like CSI, Angel, Shaun of the Dead, Metal Gear Solid and others, and as the home of pretty much everything Ashley Wood wants to publish.

KingMob 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 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, I’ve been working for filmmaker Kevin Smith, and then joined up at IDW a year ago. And for my next trick… I’ll be doing an extended 5-part adaptation of George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead. I also have a chapter in the recently published book Superheroes and Philosophy. I’ll also start really pushing this new horror magazine we’re doing in October, where I’m adapting short stories from people like Richard Matheson, Robert Bloch, F. Paul Wilson and David J. Schow. And there’s a big Clive Barker project looming next year, too… and maybe at some point, I’ll feel confident enough to take a crack at Transformers myself.

KingMob 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 Chris Ryall: Not at all. We’ve tried to go more for a “European” feel in our horror art, to set more of a mood than typical superhero-type art, but we don’t have a house style at all. I’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 KingMob: What kind of Transformer comic can we look forward to coming from IDW?

Chris Ryall Chris Ryall: Damned good ones! I think everyone will be very please with not only the story Simon’s writing, but also with the art from EJ Su. And there’s lots more to come next year, too.

KingMob 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 Chris Ryall: I mentioned USM only in the context of updating the book and essentially “restarting” the continuity, but in regards to story, we’re gonna pack an awful lot into each issue. I’m very wary of not padding out stories for the TPBs. Not that USM is doing this as far as I know, but I’m just not one for the whole idea of “decompression.” That word should maybe be switched with “meandering” in a lot of books that say they’re doing decompressed storylines. I like when things actually happen in an issue.

KingMob 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 Chris Ryall: They would, yeah. The issue of Wizard that’s due out right before Comicon will have more details about this plan.

KingMob 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 Chris Ryall: I have people in mind, and Simon, who was set to write a Beast Wars mini for Dreamwave before the… well, before, is definitely going to be involved. I’ll hold off on announcing any artist just yet.

KingMob 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 anthology book featuring different interpretations would be really cool.

Chris Ryall Chris Ryall: Or if not an anthology book, maybe some cool miniseries or one-shots…

KingMob 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 Chris Ryall: Probably. I figure, as long as the covers are offered in equal percentages so there’s no price-gouging going on, it’s fun to offer different interpretations of the characters on the covers. Some artists don’t have the time to do an entire book, but it’s still fun to see what they’d do with a cover. There are a lot of good TF artists out there, and since we don’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 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 Chris Ryall: We’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 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 Chris Ryall: Unfortunately, no. This is all between Dreamwave and Hasbro. I never really see court cases resolved quickly, so while I’m hopeful this one will be, you never know.

KingMob 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 Chris Ryall: Igor said that? That’s cool. I love the guy. I’ll do everything I can to get a TF cover out of him. At the moment, we can’t really take any more outside submissions, simply because there isn’t the space—we only have one monthly TF book right now, and until some of the other plans firm up, there’s not other openings now. But as we get into the TF launch in ’06, there will definitely be other opportunities. I’m looking at a couple other options to get fans involved, too.

KingMob 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 Chris Ryall: Equal parts really fun and really scary… it’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.

I do feel like every single TF fan has definite views of just what these comics should or shouldn’t be, and I hope they’re willing to give ours a chance and see how close we’ve come to what they wanted to see. Ultimately, we’re taking on this license because we love the characters, so we want to do right by them as much as any fan wants to see them done right.

KingMob 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 Chris Ryall: I hope so! It’d be fun to know we broke the Internet. But I don’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 we’re doing will far outweigh the naysayers.

KingMob KingMob: How's interacting with Hasbro working out? Have they made any requests for a Cybertron book?

Chris Ryall 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. We’re all waiting to see how the show’s received by fans, and to see if Hasbro decides they do want a comic based on the show. I hope so—I really like the story behind the show and think it could make for a great comic series.

KingMob 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 Chris Ryall: All I can really say is, whatever you’re used to seeing the characters transform into won’t be far removed from what they’ll be in our comics. We might freshen some looks a bit, but we’re not doing anything arbitrarily, nor do we want to change up what the fans are used to seeing.

KingMob KingMob: And are there any issues with car companies not keen on their images being used?

Chris Ryall Chris Ryall: We’ll avoid that altogether, I think.

KingMob 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 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 would’ve discovered them along the way. Tough to keep anything that size hidden forever… so I’m sure that certain people in various countries’ governments know of them, and have their own plans. They might even be working with them… and also working to discredit the average person who reports a sighting. But I’m sure there are Web sites and conspiracy sites out there that talk about these sightings… which is a small tease for something we’re going to drop on everyone between now and when the 0 issue launches.

KingMob 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 Chris Ryall: Deal!

KingMob KingMob: By the way, you've got red on you.

Chris Ryall Chris Ryall: It’s not mine, though, it’s Phillip’s.

KingMob KingMob: Thanks, man!

Again we would like to thank Chris for spending some of his valuable time talking with us, and for generally being a stand up guy.

Check out IDW Publishing's website at, and remember that Transformers #0 will be released in October for 99 cents.

Be sure to check out Chris Ryall's own comic, Shaun Of The Dead, June 29th for $3.99.

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