Thursday, April 25, 2013

CHARISMATIC CHRIS RYALL

LOCKE & KEY is a Lovecraftian horror story written
by Stephen King's son and popular novelist Joe Hill.
Chris Ryall, Chief Creative Officer/Editor-in-Chief at IDW Publishing, was nice enough to stop by the Recondite Pictures lot and give us some insight into the mind of the editor!

Here's what he had to say:

ME:  Many of our readers are comic book writers. What do you look for when hiring a new writer? A strong fan base? New ideas? Stories that appeal to people interested in current trends? Good dialogue? Structure?

CHRIS:  For the most part, especially for licensed properties, we tend to hire established writers who have shown an ability to handle other peoples' properties. We often need to provide a creator's bonafides to licensors when establishing a creative plan, so that's why we typically go that route. It's hard to hand over a licensed title to someone who hasn't proven themselves in other areas. We've done it at times but it's not all that common. So for the most part, we look for an established writer who has the right voice for whatever that property is.

ME:  What sort of stories does IDW look for from lesser-known writers?

CHRIS:  We have a solid slate of creator-owned projects on our schedule now, and those are a mix of established creators and new creative teams who have a strong point of view and unique way of presenting their story.

ME:  How does a lesser-known writer get a job writing a fill-in, back-up story or licensed title?

IDW has enjoyed great success with the GI JOE
comics they've published over the last few years.
CHRIS:  We don't really do fill-ins or back-ups. So it can be hard--if someone is looking to break in, doing so on a big licensed title is likely not the best way to go, since like I say, those projects tend to necessitate having established talent run them. Better to develop some kind of a track record, whether it just be self-published comics, smaller-press publishers or other such routes. The Internet does offer many good alternatives to people now, which is great. It might be hard for an editor to get free to read a script or even a proposal, but it's easier to read comic pages, and the means to create those are easier now than ever before.

Comics is very much a bottom-up form of entertainment--like most forms of entertainment, come to think of it. So getting any kind of track record and building some good word of mouth is a much better way to get noticed than sending a blind submission in and hoping for the best.

ME:  What advice can you give to writers who want to become more effective at their craft?

CHRIS:  Just write all the time. And actively work to get a comic done on your own, even if it's just with a friend or new artist and is something you put up on your own site or spread across social media. If you look at the success stories at Marvel, DC, IDW and beyond, many of those creators did their own thing, often for years, before being noticed and tapped to write a bigger title. Brian Bendis is probably the best example of this--he self-published for years before working for Image and then finally Marvel.

BORN AGAIN is a classic Frank Miller story.
I always want writers who get told "no" to prove wrong whoever told them that.

I know it's a hard, frustrating at times business, and it's not the kind of thing where someone who's only moderately interested in writing comics should try to break in at a high level. But if you love comics, you'll find a way to make them and then find a way to get them read and work your way up from there.

ME:  Do these writers need artists attached or does IDW put together the creative teams?

CHRIS:  For creator-owned books, often creative teams will approach us. It's not vital, though. And even less so for licensed books. I'm all for trying to pair a writer with an artist they like or who suits the story but it's not essential that they do it themselves.

ME:  What are some of your favorite comics as a pure fan?

CHRIS:  I'm a fan of writers much more than books that look pretty with not much beyond the pictures. I grew up on guys like Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and those books they did in the '80s and '90s still resonate. My favorite all-time comic story is one I'm very happy we were able to do as an Artist's Edition -- Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's Daredevil "Born Again" story.

ME:  What IDW comics are coming up that people who have never tried your comics should check out?

The new TMNT Nickelodeon cartoon will soon get an IDW
companion series. Pick up the Free introductory issue on May 4!
CHRIS:  I think Locke & Key is a great comic for people who've never read comics. And beyond that, other new creator-owned books we're doing like Wild Blue Yonder, Half Past Danger, and hopefully my own The Colonized are easily accessible and fun and hit on subjects that people who've never read comics can respond to.

ME:  What comics has IDW published in the past that new readers should seek out to get the best idea of what IDW offers?

CHRIS:  Again on the creator-owned front, Locke & Key is among the best things we've ever done, and is one of the best comics being published today (or any day), I think. Licensed-wise, our Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Judge Dredd revivals are accessible and action-packed for fans of superhero-like (but no capes) comics. And Darwyn Cooke's Parker graphic novels are likewise just brilliant. But there are so many--and I can't really pick favorites among my "kids," so hopefully any one title that someone tries will encourage them to check out other things we've done.


Scott Amundson writes comics for many publishers, including Bluewater Productions, Heroes Fallen and Recondite Pictures.

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