PR Lesson: IDW Magic Comics Turn Liability Into Virtue

Got this press release from IDW announcing that they would be making comics based on the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering. My first thought was, wasn’t that a thing 10-15 years ago? (I know people still play it — I’m thinking back to when it was hottest.) Then I saw that, smartly, IDW addressed that, and they turned it into a positive.

Magic the Gathering #1 cover

IDW Publishing and Hasbro, Inc. today announced yet another extension of the companies’ long-term relationship with an all-new comic book series based on the ground-breaking MAGIC: THE GATHERING trading card game (TCG). Under license from Hasbro, Inc., and in collaboration with Wizards of the Coast, IDW will launch a new series entitled MAGIC: THE GATHERING this fall, the first comic series in more than a decade based on the many worlds of the hugely popular game.

“Magic: The Gathering is an incredibly strong property which spawned a new entertainment category, and there is so much to be done creatively with comics,” says IDW’s Magic editor, Denton J. Tipton. “I’m really looking forward to telling new stories in the many worlds of Magic, which have been near and dear to my heart since the mid-90s.”

By positioning this as “first in a decade”, they make the gap special and this release significant. By adding the editor’s quote emphasizing his long time with the product, they reassure fans that the company knows what they like and is “one of them”.

But good feelings don’t bring sales: “you can only get cards here” might. Especially if they have significant power.

Adding to the rich stories are exclusive, playable, alternate-art cards for the MAGIC: THE GATHERING TCG, which will only be available through select issues of the IDW comics.

While we’re talking about good things, note that IDW doesn’t forget to mention the people actually making the comic, the writer and artist, as well as how you’ll be able to get the book. The only thing missing is a date more specific than “this fall”.

This comic series is written by renowned author and game designer Matt Forbeck (The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game, Amortals, The Marvel Encyclopedia), who is joined by talented newcomer, artist Martín Cóccolo. Each comic book will also be collected at intervals into graphic novels. MAGIC: THE GATHERING will be distributed to a wide audience through comic-book outlets, trade bookstores, mass retailers, and digitally through a variety of platforms.

If you’re wondering about that reference to the IDW/Hasbro relationship, Hasbro also has licensed to the company GI Joe and Transformers for comics. Also found in the boilerplate: Magic: The Gathering now has over 11,000 different cards available. That’s a lot.

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2 Responses to “PR Lesson: IDW Magic Comics Turn Liability Into Virtue”

  1. Paul Says:

    IDW/Hasbro is also currently publishing a Dungeons & Dragons comic that’s fun to read.

  2. Jim Kosmicki Says:

    Matt Forbeck’s two novels from Angry Robot publishing are solidly written, with interesting ideas. However, I have no interest at all in Magic: The Gathering. And good prose stylists don’t necessarily make the transition to comics writing, but based on those two novels, he knows how to plot and present solid characterization.

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