9:00am PT by Graeme McMillan
'Full Bleed': Inside IDW's Ambitious New Culture Magazine (Exclusive)
Woodworks, the new Portland, Ore.-based imprint of IDW Publishing has unveiled its first release, and it's something very different indeed from the company known for comics based on Hasbro's Transformers, My Little Pony and the Star Trek franchise.
Full Bleed is a print-only 200 page hardcover magazine, to be released on a quarterly basis, mixing comics and prose and tackling the subject of creative culture in all its forms: comics, music, fine art, design and more. (The first issue alone features interviews with Stephen King and Alan Moore alongside new short fiction in both prose and comic format, as well as travelogues, op-eds and reported pieces about subjects from the placement of comics in museums to 1970s health food stores and vinyl records.) Curated and edited by Woodworks' Dirk Wood and IDW CEO Ted Adams, the first volume is scheduled for a December release.
The expansive focus and format aren't the only new things about Full Bleed, however; the magazine is also running a Kickstarter campaign that is intended as something other than a way to ensure the title sees print. Instead, IDW and Woodworks are using it as a method of outreach and publicity to promote awareness of the project, as well as a preordering method that operates outside of the traditional comic specialty store system — while also supporting those stores at the same time.
THR talked to editor and Woodworks founder Wood about the origin of Full Bleed, and also using crowdfunding campaigns as something altogether different.
Full Bleed is certainly an ambitious project to launch IDW's Portland-based imprint Woodworks with, but where did it come from? The debut issue boasts that it is a "reading experience like no other," but I can see the DNA of things like McSweeneys, the old UK magazine Deadline and even RAW in places. Were there particular inspirations when coming up with the series?
Indeed, it is ambitious, and yes, there many inspirations, including all three you mention here! In addition to those, I’d add in the old Comics Journals that Fantagraphics did, with their long interviews, and maybe a dash of VICE, and Rolling Stone, oddly. Not in format per se, but content. To the naked eye, Rolling Stone is all about music. But then you flip a page to find an article about climate change. In some respects, I’d like to do for comics what Rolling Stone has done for music, examining the rest of the culture around and through the medium of comics.
The first issue features an unseen Alan Moore interview, a brand-new Stephen King interview, a new short story from Joe R. Landsdale, as well as comics pieces from creators like Shannon Wheeler and Erin Nations; it's a mix of a lot of great material, all of which feels "mainstream" as well as "comic culture." How did you choose what ended up in the first release?
Pretty organically, actually. I started putting the word out to friends and colleagues a few months back on what I was up to, and the flood gates started to open. Some were ideas I wanted to pursue, some came from Ted Adams, our CEO, who is super involved and interested in this project, some were ideas that were thrown my way from others. There is still a TON of great stuff showing up, plenty of things I’m not ready to announce yet. And once people see this thing, I suspect a lot more people are going to want to be involved. As for the mainstream/comic culture idea, well, it’s a pretty good reflection of my tastes. I tend to lean pretty counter-culture and strange though. Not all of the things that interest me are going to interest everyone. So, I try to keep a very open mind and seek out other opinions on content, and try to include things that will entertain a wider group of people, beyond the tiny demographic I might represent. But I’m heavily into it, so there will be plenty of weird stuff.
The publisher's announcement of the title refers to the "unique perspective of the IDW:PDX satellite office." How would you describe that perspective?
Well, I was raised here in Portland. And since I’m running this thing, I suppose that perspective is me! But seriously, a sort of DIY culture has thrived in Portland as long as I can remember. I was born in 1970 and moved to Portland in 1977, to date myself. My parents were entrepreneurs here in the '80s, and Portland has always seemed to support the counter culture. I spent the entire '90s here in my 20s, stapling flyers to telephone poles. I lived in the same apartment building as the owner of the Church of Elvis. And now, my office is located in the old Pine Street Theater building, that was a musical cultural ground zero here for years. Even if I wanted to shake the Portland out of myself, it would be impossible. At the same time, I don’t want this publication to be entirely from my perspective. I want a diverse and varied group of creators, artists, contributors. They’re going to come from all over the world, it’s just my luck that Portland is absolutely stocked with the kind of creative people I want involved.
Along similar lines, it feels to me that Full Bleed is very "Portland" in terms of its contents, from what's been announced — it comes across as a celebration of creativity in all its forms, with a focus on individual voices and perspectives. Is that intentional?
Absolutely intentional! I couldn’t shake Portland if I tried. But you’re right, Portland has a pretty obvious love of handcrafted and artisan pursuits. The food is well documented, the coffee, the beer. Why not do the same for books? IDW is well known for print quality, and we’re taking this one to that next level.
Talking of next levels, IDW is using Kickstarter in an unusual way for this project; essentially, it's as much a way of raising awareness for the project as it is raising funds, and it also creates a different method for people to order the first issue. How did that idea come about?
Mostly through conversations with Ted — IDW has always tried to break new ground on ways to get our product out there. We were one of the first companies to heavily pursue digital comics, and now, we’re doing this (practically the opposite). Full Bleed is, at its heart, a magazine. And magazines traditionally can’t survive without two things — advertising and subscribers. Well, there are no ads in Full Bleed, and Kickstarter seemed to us to be the equivalent of the modern-day subscription service. And its marketing power can’t be denied. We wanted to find every potential reader we can, and this seemed like the way to do it.
As for the unique part of it, we’ve found a way to get comic shops involved. Anyone who knows us, knows how important the traditional comic shop is to our business. We wanted them to be able to take advantage of this, and to drive people into their shops who might want to wait and see the physical book before they commit, and I think we’ve found a way to do that. Eventually, we’ll want the Full Bleed content, and all of the Woodworks projects on the way, to be available everywhere books are sold, but this just seemed like a pretty interesting way to launch, and get a lot of attention on something we’re very proud of.
The Kickstarter campaign for Full Bleed can be found here.