Idea Publishing (IDW) is a child of ‘The Idea and Design Works LLC’, and was formed in 2001, joining comic book industry with â30 Days of Night”. Since its formation, IDW has published several titles that until now has taken a good share of the comic book market, and has also gained the license to publish comic book versions of many TV and movie series.
One of its most famous and in-demand titles is the ‘Transformers’ comic book. Idea Publishing has owned the license to this comic book since the previous licensee, Dreamwave Productions, ceased operations due of financial problems at the end of 2004.
IDW succeeded in maintaining a flagship storyline by using the Transformers library of stories. The writers call it a “rebooted Generation 1 continuity”, being penned by the veteran Transformers crewman, Simon Furman. The idea was tested and found potentially successful prior to being produced as a monthly comic book in 2009.
Idea Publishing also received permission to release some of Dreamwave Productions works, such as the War and Peace, The War Within, and War Within: The Dark Ages. The firm expanded its range of products in May, 2008, when it secure the license for Hasbro’s G.I. Joe comic book, which shortly became one of the firms most lucrative an popular publications.
Freedom of Expression
IDW introduced a system of working whereby its writers had the freedom to use their own styles of writing, unlike the general convention of the day when writers were restricted by the standards set by the publishing company. Other publishers, such as Marvel Comics and DC, tended to issue instructions to their writers regarding content of stories, an often even of what characters to create. Not so Idea Publishing, who offered its writers freedom of expression to use their own ideas in this respect.
Neither writers nor editors were instructed to create storylines based upon events that occurred in previous issues. Readers might occasionally find storylines that are contradictory to previous issues, while there were also many that made no connection to any of the preceding issues.
The Transformers and More
Aside from the Transformers and G.I. Joe, IDW is either holding or has held licenses to write and publish stories based upon Star Trek, True Blood, Dr. Who (from the BBC), CSI, and Angel among many others. The house also has its own group of books apart from the original 30 Days of Night â Popbot (with 2 Spectrum Gold Awards), Wormwood, Gentleman Corpse, and others.
The Transformers publications under IDW dates back as early as 2005 with seven issues of ‘The Transformers: Infiltration.’ The tales focus on the Transformers and their presence on modern-day Earth. Here they are depicted as the robots in disguise, and this takes the central theme of continuity into the present day.
‘The Transformers: Spotlight’ was introduced in 2006 which uses a different approach. Each issue focuses on only one Transformers character, and each is an individual story without continuity in the next issue: hence the title ‘Spotlight.’ Not just that, but the format is flexible, the writers being given a free rein on what they could write.
In 2006, The Transformers: Stormbringer was issued in four parts. This focuses on Cybertron with a connection to the former Infiltration series in the re-boot. This was followed by another sequel to Infiltration, The Transformers: Escalation which ran from 2006-2007. This comprised six issues which revolved around the stories of conflict with the Decepticons and some others about Sunstreaker and Hunter O‘Nion.
The 2007 Collaboration: Transformers and New Avengers
In 2007, collaboration between IDW and Marvel Comics paved the way to the publication of New Avengers/Transformers. This was the first ever crossover between the New Avengers and The Transformers.
The year 2007 was a very productive one for Idea Publishing and The Transformers, since not only was the above collaboration formed, but many fans’ questions were answered. An explanation was provided for Megatronâs rise to power in the same year, also how the Decepticon faction was founded. These critical pieces of information for Transformers fans were detailed in the four-issue story – The Transformers: Megatron Origin.
A sequel to Escalation (mentioned above) followed in another six-story issue entitled The Transformers: Devastation. It was a prelude to the soon-to-come Dead Universe arc. Here, the story was crafted around Sunstreaker and what happened to him, and also the battle between the Decepticons and the Reapers. The Revelation published in 2008 was a sequel to Devastation. The four Spotlights focused on Cylonus, Hardhead, Doubledealer, and Sideswipe.
In 2008, Idea Publishing introduced All Hail Megatron, a series that ran for 12 maxi-series issues. After the defeat of the Autobots, All Hail Megatron tells in detail how the Decepticons conquered the Earth. In addition, there were four coda series called All Hail Megatron Coda. These were written to clarify issues of consistency between the originals of Simon Furman and the new issues by Shane McCarthey.
Idea Publishing Freedom of Expression
The unconventional editorial policies of IDW (mentioned earlier) have given freedom for their writers to be more “creative”, without constrictive rules on subject matter or approach. Artist Guido Guidi related in one of IDW forums how he literally drew his Transformer characters from scratch. At one time, he was instructed to ignore the designs used by former writers and create his own if he so wished. Naturally, he did ‘so wish!’
Following the edict by IDW that writers and artists had a free rein to use their own imagination, several other instances arose where the appearance of specific comic characters appeared different according to the artist. Some artists presented characters in modernized robot designs while others as enhancements of previous ones. This may have confused readers for a while, but made for good ingenious designs and readers soon got used to it.
Other later Transformers publications include Transformers: The Death of Optimus Prime in 2011, The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye in 2012, The Transformers: Autocracy also in 2012, and The Transformers: Robots in Disguise still in 2012.
When Idea and Design Works secured the Star Trek license in 2006, the field was open for the firm’s writers to come up with new stories and characters. The first was issued in 2007, although initially the tales were based on well-known Star Trek characters and stories such as the original TV series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and the Star Trek movie released in 2009.
IDW: Innovative and Ambitious
However, ultimately, IDW was able to make changes in the way the comic book is served to its readers such as publishing stories not connected to the TV series. There were other innovations that IDW made, including changes to the layout of the comic book’s pages. Generally, of the IDW-published comic books normal 32 pages, 22 pages are usually reserved for the actual story. The remaining ten pages consist of advertisements, interviews, previews and others. This was change to suit the stories – and the adverts that helped finance the project! There is a fine line. . .
Ted Adams and Robbie Robins currently share the presidency of IDW as a comic book company. Chris Ryall serves as the companyâs editor-in-chief and publisher. According to Diamond, Idea Publishing shares 1.49% of the comic book market. Since its inception, IDW publishing has provided a unique comic book outlet for many popular TV and movie series where writers and artists are unrestricted in the scope of their work. It is an ambitious comic book company winning way above its weight.