The Originals line feels like a big swing for IDW, coming at a time when the publisher needs one; announcing no less than nine new creator-owned series**** as part of a new imprint would be a big move from any publisher, but coming from a publisher that last made headlines at the start of the year for losing the Transformers and G.I. JOE comic book licenses, it feels particularly bold, as if the company is making a statement about its future priorities and a renewed dedication to original content in addition to maintaining existing intellectual property.
It’s an interesting line-up of new titles, as well, without an obvious throughline in terms of genre or tone: while Dark Spaces: Wildfire and Crashing appear, from their loglines, relatively grounded in reality, projects like Dead Seas, The Sin Bin, or the marvelously-named Golgotha Motor Mountain feature more fantastical elements such as ghosts, monsters, and cosmic alien horrors hunting “two meth-cooking brothers,” respectively. There are crime books, medical dramas, science-fiction, and what looks like a time travel book about an attempt to unmake the United States of America. This is, in other words, a pretty varied list, and from a line-up of creators that goes from established names to relative newcomers.
It’s also, according to the publisher, only the beginning: the official announcement mentioned a further slate including a series by 12 Years A Slave’s John Ridley – because, I guess, writing Batman and Black Panther wasn’t keeping him busy enough these days – in addition to graphic novels aimed at young adult and middle grade audiences.
The last line in Thursday’s announcement helps explain one reason why IDW is investing so heavily in new material: “In addition to publishing plans, IDW will be developing these properties for film, television, and other entertainment mediums.” The success of previous IDW adaptations – Netflix’s Locke & Key, Syfy’s Wynnona Earp, the latter of which was arguably far more successful as a TV show than as a comic – shouldn’t be overlooked in considering the health of IDW as an overall entity; if its new publishing slate acts as much as R&D for future transmedia properties as it does a line of comic books, then who’s to begrudge IDW for being upfront about it ahead of time?