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A surprise move in the comics industry came Wednesday afternoon when it was revealed that Chris Ryall has stepped down from his position as chief creative officer and editor-in-chief at IDW Publishing.
Ryall had been at the company since June 2004, when he took over as editor-in-chief from Jeff Mariotte; previously, he had been editor-in-chief at Kevin Smith’s MoviePoopShoot.com, and worked with Stan Lee on his nascent Stan Lee Media company. At IDW, Ryall worked as a creator as well as an executive, writing on projects including Transformers, Shawn of the Dead, Kiss and Rom. He also orchestrated multiple cross-franchise crossovers, including Infestation, a storyline that included the Transformers, Ghostbusters, G.I. Joe and Star Trek franchises.
Under Ryall’s leadership — first as editor-in-chief, before becoming the company’s first chief creative officer in 2010 — IDW became the fifth-largest publisher in the North American comic book market, with a number of imprints including Top Shelf Productions, an independent publisher IDW acquired in 2015.
Outside of IDW, Ryall co-wrote, with Scott Tipton, 2009’s Comic Books 101: The History, Methods and Madness, a prose primer to the history behind and business of comics in the North American market, which also featured contributions from Stan Lee, Harlan Ellison and New Teen Titans co-creator Marv Wolfman, among others.
News of Ryall’s departure was broken by The Beat before being confirmed by Ryall himself via Twitter. “The business of leaving a 14-year job eats up a lot of hours so it seems sometimes word can leak out before there’s time to announce it publicly,” he wrote, “but it’s true, I’m stepping aside from IDW. We’ll announce things properly soon…”
Ryall’s departure follows another shift at the top of the company, as co-founder Ted Adams moved from the publisher position to CEO in November (Greg Goldstein, the company’s president and COO, took on the publisher title in his absence). At this point, it is unclear who will step into Ryall’s shoes.
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