IDW Publishing Purchases Top Shelf Productions

'From Hell,' 'March' publisher will become an imprint of the San Diego-based company

2015 has started for the comic book industry with a bang — or at least a surprise — with the news that San Diego-based company IDW Publishing, known for its licensed product including Transformers, G.I. Joe and My Little Pony comic books, has purchased arthouse publisher Top Shelf Productions.

Terms of the purchase remain under wraps, but Top Shelf will become a “distinct imprint within IDW,” according to the announcement released by the company Tuesday morning, with Top Shelf co-founder Chris Staros acting as editor-in-chief. Staros’ co-founder Brett Warnock will retire from the company, with the remainder of Top Shelf staff folded into IDW operations.

Top Shelf Productions was founded by Staros and Warnock in 1997, and has become known for releasing work by creators including Jeff Lemire, Eddie Campbell and James Kochalka. Additionally, Top Shelf has become the American home for Alan Moore’s recent work, including From Hell and the latter League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books, and the publisher of March: Book One, a graphic novel memoir by Congressman John Lewis.

IDW Publishing launched in 2000 as the publishing arm of Idea and Design Works, a company intended to develop intellectual property across different media including television, video games and comic books. The brainchild of Ted Adams, Alex Garner, Kris Oprisko and Robbie Robbins, the company’s comic books have included tie-ins to Hasbro’s major toy lines and Cartoon Network properties, as well as Star Trek, Mars Attacks and Ghostbusters, and original concepts including 30 Days of Night and Locke & Key. In recent years, IDW has launched additional imprints focused on reprinting classic comic strips, including Little Orphan Annie, Dick Tracy and Popeye.

“IDW is committed to preserving and growing the Top Shelf brand, which we’ve long admired” IDW president and COO Greg Goldstein said in a statement accompanying the official announcement. “Chris and his team have built a great working relationship with creators, fans, and retailers alike, and IDW will work diligently to expand Top Shelf’s publishing capabilities and market reach while further developing those relationships.”

“Believe it or not, the idea to join forces hit us both at exactly the same time,” Staros added. “Last year, as I was about to pitch Ted and Greg this ‘crazy’ idea, they approached me to suggest the same thing! How’s that for a good omen? Together, we’re going to be able to publish some incredible work. I’m really looking forward to this.”