IDW Has Leadership Challenges

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Last month, Chris Ryall announced that he was leaving IDW. He had been some combination of President, Publisher, and Chief Creative Officer of the comic publisher for most of the last 15 years. There was a hiatus during some of that, as IDW has had a lot of turnover in their executive staff for the last two years, since founder Ted Adams was replaced.

Shortly thereafter, new executives were announced. Ezra Rosensaft become CEO of the holding company (formerly the Chief Financial Officer), and Jerry Bennington (previously EVP of Product Management) is the new President. According to the press release,

Bennington established new business units including IDW Limited and IDW Games, and he increased IDW Publishing’s stable of licensed IPs including the notable additions of Batman the Animated Series, Dragon Ball Z, Metal Gear Solid, and Usagi Yojimbo. Prior to joining IDW Publishing, Bennington was the President of 3 Point Entertainment where he helped develop specialty licensed merchandise, and served as the VP of Marketing for The Upper Deck Company’s Upper Deck Games.

He’s a merch and marketing guy, obviously, but the money isn’t in comics publishing any more. Creating new product lines seems to be considered more important. IDW has always had a lot of licensed publications, anyway, with few original comic properties.

The new IDW Publisher was Jud Meyers, who lasted about five days, before he was put on “administrative leave” and then let go. He was previously the Sales Director, and before that, he was at Humanoids and worked in comic retail. This ComicsBeat article has more detail on his checkered history with previous business partners.

One does wonder what kind of checking was done before deciding on the announcement, but this is another sign that perhaps the decision-makers weren’t as connected with the comic community. And someone who’s managed to rack up history elsewhere may have been seen as a safe choice.

Ryall, meanwhile, is “launching a new storytelling venture focused on the disparate worlds and characters that he brought to life at IDW Publishing … in partnership with Ashley Wood” as well as continuing to be involved with Locke & Key in both print and television formats. The new venture is called the World of Syzygy, which will make no one who has to use that name happy.

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