Stand-Up Comics

By Seth Combs

(Published in the July 2010 issue)

When Ted Adams and three other comic book enthusiasts took over a steamy, windowless office space in Pacific Beach to start Idea and Design Works (IDW) back in 1999, they never dreamed that they’d one day be the fourth largest comic book publisher in the U.S. In fact, Adams still isn’t sure how they got any work done.

“It was on Garnet, right above the Tower Records where all the bars are. My partners were surfers, so they’d be surfing during lunch,” says Adams, now the CEO of IDW. “We were definitely working late into the night on a lot of stuff.”

A little over 10 years later, the Tower Records is gone, but IDW Publishing is thriving-the original quartet has since grown to 26 full-time staffers and more than 200 freelancers from all over the world. Today, the company has dozens of original titles and awards under its belt and is the largest distributor of licensed comics derived from films and television shows including GI Joe, Star Trek, CSI and True Blood, the latter of which they’ll be plugging heavily at this year’s

However, the film and television industry is also knocking on IDW’s door. The company’s first comic book series, 2002’s vampire spectacle 30 Days of Night, started a seven-figure bidding war in Hollywood, with Sam Raimi’s (the legendary director behind the Spider-Man movies) Ghost House Pictures eventually winning out. The film version, released in 2007, went on to open at number one at the box office and spawned a sequel and a TV mini-series. IDW has four other titles in development at studios including Dimension Films and Cartoon Network, and action-film king Jerry Bruckheimer is producing a film for Disney based on the IDW graphic novel, World War Robot.

“We have another book called Welcome to Hoxford that’s being produced by Chris Columbus’ production company,” says Adams. “He’s the guy who did the first Harry Potter movie.”

Yet, even with all their success, Adams says IDW will never forget their roots. They’re still in Pacific Beach, albeit in a much larger, more comfortable office, and they don’t plan on leaving anytime soon.

“I have to travel a lot for the company, and there’s never any place that I’ve been where I didn’t come back and say, ‘I’d rather live in San Diego,’” says Adams. “This is the place to be.”