The rumor of the day is that IDW is done.
The easiest way to explain IDW’s position in the market to a Gen Xer is to say that it is the American Motor Company of the comic book industry. It turns out decent material but has a long history of struggling.
Like most other comics companies, the company’s value isn’t so much in the comics they publish but rather in the licensing of merch that their brands make famous. They don’t have a corporate owner with limitless wealth (or just seemingly limitless wealth in the case of Marvel) but they always managed to produce something that caught fire every now and then. It would let them put out merchandise and they would use the sale to acquire licenses to better-known franchises.
Their biggest success was their own 30 Days of Night. Given the relative costs involved it blew the doors off and put them on the map.
Their titles have been G.I. Joe, AE Games: Dragon Age, The Legend of Drizzit by R. A. Salvatore, Judge Dreadd and The Crow. As well as such fair as My Little Pony Friendship is Magic and some of Disney’s kid’s titles that they apparently didn’t trust Marvel with.
This gives you an idea of the level the company has typically operated at. Not the top-shelf titles but they were nowhere near the bottom of the leaderboard either.
However, Marvel’s horrifically corrosive effect on the entire comic book industry dragged IDW down as well. In the last couple of years they’ve been known to be in financial difficulties. Their own venture into SJWism with their “reimagining of G.I. Joe” with a team of Joes that had hyper-obese women soldiers and smelly hippies who fight “racist-racism” gave IDW a very unneeded black eye.
They put the last of their money on the table and rolled high with three series on Netflix based on their comics.
Netflix’s marketing plan is not remotely the same as traditional broadcasting, where you try to build up your audience and maintain it for as many seasons as possible, preferably for long after it’s sell-by date. Netflix on the other hand runs entirely on a “what have you done for me lately?” Model. If your show isn’t generating new subscriptions (or bringing back old ones) you don’t have a show.
The three titles they bet the house were V-Wars, October Faction and Locke and Key.
As of yesterday two of them are canceled. Locke and Key appears to have been picked up for a second season but honestly I can’t tell you why. I’ve tried all three series this year, and while all of them had intriguing premises, they all had loathsome characters. None of them had the charm of college kids on The Order.
So this blow combined with the Corvid-19 crisis is likely going to be the end for IDW. The artists who work there are now are rumored to be awaiting the “pencils down” order.
I’m not celebrating this. IDW was nowhere near as bad as Marvel and DC and they had a passion for their work. And if this is the end for them, they will be missed.
But where there are broken eggs, there may be omelets. The passion of comic book guys is still there but the business model was hopelessly obsolete. Yes, a lot of people are taking a financial beating over this but new business models are going to emerge on the other side.
I honestly don’t think that this is the death of comics at all.