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THE FIRST DECADE

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ART & DESIGN C

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Kris Oprisko remembers the early days of IDW’s creative service business.

“Ted & I originally started working together at

WildStorm in 1995, when I was hired by the Editorial department of which he was already a part.

But we soon became our own two-man department,

taking care of the huge amount of trading-card work there was at the time and also doing general creative service work. As the demand for trading cards lessened, it increased simultaneously for creative services. Ted left in 1998 to work for Todd McFarlane, while I took over WildStorm’s department.

“Thus it was that when we came back together with Robbie and Alex in 1999 to form Idea and Design Works, the idea was that our new company would be wholly dedicated to creative services. At the time, we 37


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ART & DESIGN C

H

A

P

T

E

R

3

Kris Oprisko remembers the early days of IDW’s creative service business.

“Ted & I originally started working together at

WildStorm in 1995, when I was hired by the Editorial department of which he was already a part.

But we soon became our own two-man department,

taking care of the huge amount of trading-card work there was at the time and also doing general creative service work. As the demand for trading cards lessened, it increased simultaneously for creative services. Ted left in 1998 to work for Todd McFarlane, while I took over WildStorm’s department.

“Thus it was that when we came back together with Robbie and Alex in 1999 to form Idea and Design Works, the idea was that our new company would be wholly dedicated to creative services. At the time, we 37


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___________________________________________________________________ Some of the IDW-created titles that were published by Ultimate Sports Force. 38

had no intention of becoming a comic-book publisher. “However, we were more than open to doing comics—delivered ready-to-print—as work-for-hire jobs. And one of our very first projects after opening our doors was just such a comic job, for the folks at Ultimate Sports. The company had been founded by an ex-sports agent who was changing his focus to producing comics featuring ‘super-hero’ versions of real-life athletes. We felt supremely equipped to make these comics, since we were all sports fans who’d just left a successful comic company. We ended up doing several projects with them based on both MLB and NFL players. I particularly enjoyed writing Gridiron Giants, an NFL book with shapechanging athletes like Dan Marino, Barry Sanders and Terrell Davis. “But to say we were doing only comic projects in those

early days would be to vastly understate the wide reach we were making into all areas of culture and advertising as we tried to find our niche. From Japan came the opportunity to work on a special-edition Pepsi can bearing the silver, mouth-free Japanese mascot Pepsi-man. The art for Pepsi-man was done by Rich Johnson, a great guy Ted & I both knew from our WildStorm days. It would unfortunately be our last project together, as Rich passed away far too young, and is still missed. “IDW made its splash in bus stations and magazines across America with our line of Degree antiperspirant ads, a mix of photos and drawing with art provided by Ryan Benjamin. We were excited by the exposure and eager to show that our kind of art had a place in the larger marketplace.

_______________________________________________________ IDW’s biggest national ad campaign was for Degree Deodorant. 39


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___________________________________________________________________ Some of the IDW-created titles that were published by Ultimate Sports Force. 38

had no intention of becoming a comic-book publisher. “However, we were more than open to doing comics—delivered ready-to-print—as work-for-hire jobs. And one of our very first projects after opening our doors was just such a comic job, for the folks at Ultimate Sports. The company had been founded by an ex-sports agent who was changing his focus to producing comics featuring ‘super-hero’ versions of real-life athletes. We felt supremely equipped to make these comics, since we were all sports fans who’d just left a successful comic company. We ended up doing several projects with them based on both MLB and NFL players. I particularly enjoyed writing Gridiron Giants, an NFL book with shapechanging athletes like Dan Marino, Barry Sanders and Terrell Davis. “But to say we were doing only comic projects in those

early days would be to vastly understate the wide reach we were making into all areas of culture and advertising as we tried to find our niche. From Japan came the opportunity to work on a special-edition Pepsi can bearing the silver, mouth-free Japanese mascot Pepsi-man. The art for Pepsi-man was done by Rich Johnson, a great guy Ted & I both knew from our WildStorm days. It would unfortunately be our last project together, as Rich passed away far too young, and is still missed. “IDW made its splash in bus stations and magazines across America with our line of Degree antiperspirant ads, a mix of photos and drawing with art provided by Ryan Benjamin. We were excited by the exposure and eager to show that our kind of art had a place in the larger marketplace.

_______________________________________________________ IDW’s biggest national ad campaign was for Degree Deodorant. 39


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_____________________ Preliminary designs and final product for Pepsi.


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_____________________ Preliminary designs and final product for Pepsi.


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________________________________________________ A selection of some of the DVD menus created by IDW.

“At around the same time, we began to receive jobs from the newly emerging DVD market. This was still the early days of DVDs, when most discs ONLY contained the film–not the director’s commentaries, alternate takes, and easter eggs that pack the DVD collections of today. We were hired to design the menus for the DVDs–I say ‘we,’ but 42

these DVD projects were all Robbie. During this period we worked with studios such as Artisan, Trimark, and Lions Gate, producing menus for titles like Natural Born Killers, The Songcatcher, and Chuck & Buck. Eventually the projects just became too involved and complex for us–the menus were now fully 3D animated and laden-down with bells and

whistles. If we wanted to remain active in that area, we would have had to transform into a DVD menuonly design house, and none of us wanted to restrict the company in that manner. “Good thing we didn’t, because the future still held projects of almost every conceivable nature. Another area of heavy Robbie activity was the style

guide projects we took on. Style guides were the “bibles” used by owners of Intellectual Properties to showcase their IP, to tell the story behind their characters and show how those characters should be presented. They were meant to be useful, but had to also have a sense of cutting-edge graphic design. They also generally ran to several hundred pages, so 43


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________________________________________________ A selection of some of the DVD menus created by IDW.

“At around the same time, we began to receive jobs from the newly emerging DVD market. This was still the early days of DVDs, when most discs ONLY contained the film–not the director’s commentaries, alternate takes, and easter eggs that pack the DVD collections of today. We were hired to design the menus for the DVDs–I say ‘we,’ but 42

these DVD projects were all Robbie. During this period we worked with studios such as Artisan, Trimark, and Lions Gate, producing menus for titles like Natural Born Killers, The Songcatcher, and Chuck & Buck. Eventually the projects just became too involved and complex for us–the menus were now fully 3D animated and laden-down with bells and

whistles. If we wanted to remain active in that area, we would have had to transform into a DVD menuonly design house, and none of us wanted to restrict the company in that manner. “Good thing we didn’t, because the future still held projects of almost every conceivable nature. Another area of heavy Robbie activity was the style

guide projects we took on. Style guides were the “bibles” used by owners of Intellectual Properties to showcase their IP, to tell the story behind their characters and show how those characters should be presented. They were meant to be useful, but had to also have a sense of cutting-edge graphic design. They also generally ran to several hundred pages, so 43


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The Complete List of IDW Complete Idiot’s Guides For the past several years, we’ve worked with Alpha Books/Pearson Education producing a number of titles for their Complete Idiot’s Guide series. In most cases these were of the “Illustrated” variety, meaning along with an explanation of the subject itself there were many step-by-step how-to instructions for drawing.

CIG to Drawing Basics, Illustrated This book served as a general introduction on how to draw, with words and text provided by Frank Fradella. Similar to the case with Manga, Illustrated, Alpha had an old title of the same name that they just weren't pleased with. They wanted more of a focus on the step-by-step process of art creation, which we provided in this volume. ________________________________________________ In addition to creating the style guide for The Man Show, IDW provided the design for this six-pack of beer.

CIG to Drawing Manga, Illustrated This title was really two-in-one. At first, we were hired to provide art for a manga how-to book that was already completed, with art by David Hutchison. But Alpha wasn’t completely happy with the text they had, so it led to a total revamp of the book. The new and improved text was provided by John Layman.

CIG to Drawing Manga, Illustrated (2nd Edition) The originally CIGDM proved so popular that an updated, revised version was needed. The text was cleaned up and augmented, while David added a few extra art pieces as well.

CIG to Manga Fantasy Creatures, Illustrated The second manga-related CIG book we produced marked the writing debut on the series for gaming guru Matt Forbeck, while we went straight to Japan to provide the art, using native talent Tomoko Taniguchi. The subject this time was the fantastic creatures that populate the pages of manga in all their wild and wacky forms.

CIG to Drawing Manga Shoujo, Illustrated With Matt and Tomoko now in place as our regular Manga CIG team, we explored the softer side of the genre with a how-to book on Shoujo manga. Not as well known in the U.S. as some of its cousins, this subgenre focuses on the female readership of manga. Caution - extreme cuteness levels!

CIG to Drawing Superheroes and Villains, Illustrated Moving away from manga, this guide focused on the men in tights–heroes and villains of the traditional comic superhero variety. Rather than focusing on pre-existing characters, the guide provided original characters as a springboard to spark the readers’ own creativity. Matt Forbeck provided the text, with art by Yair Herrera.

CIG to U.S. History This was a bit of a different project for us, as the art was done in-house by Alpha while we provided a script. And that’s just what it was–a comic script–since the project would be a comic-style fully illustrated history of the United States. Ken Hite was the scriptwriter on this project.

Honorable Mention We also completed an entire CIG project with text by Matt Forbeck on the ins and outs of a popular RPG, but rights issues with the game unfortunately consigned that to the unpublished pile.

the whole office invariably was involved with collating and putting them together once Robbie’s design work was done. High-profile projects like these included an installment of the Final Fantasy videogame series, the syndicated TV program The Man Show, and one put together for Wilbur, a proposed children’s TV show, that even featured fauxcowskin binders! We also did some online style guides, including one for Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids. “We took a brief sidestep into the world of animated-style art with work on two Rugrats children’s books for Nickelodeon, Secret-Agent Dad and A Pickles Passover. The Klasky-Csupo people were understandably proud of their creations, and we were held to an exacting standard. There were many blueline revisions before final approval–you’d never imagine how much Angelica’s cheek or Chas’ mustache is agonized over. We also deliberately used very angled views of the art for the book, many of them upshots. This not only freed up “dead” space for the text, but also presented the art to kids from a kid’s own perspective. “One other type of creative service work that I really enjoyed was writing videogames. As games evolved, they came to have plots that moved the story along using computer-animated cut scenes. It was my job, once the ‘game’ part was

in process, to come up with and write the ‘story’ part that the cut scenes would show. On one project, ATV Offroad Fury, I had full freedom to augment the racing game with any story I chose–providing the main character could either be male or female and was never referred to by name! I also wrote a script for Warhawk that I poured my heart into for months. The idea was that the publisher would pick parts of my script and scripts that other writers had ____________________ produced to incorporate the The Wilbur style guide featured faux cow skin. best bits into the final game. Even though that game is now released on PS3 and the job’s been done for years, I haven’t had the heart to check it out and see what they might have cut. “Although in the end IDW would become known primarily for its comic line, in the beginning we were a creative service house. Those early projects, worked on by the four original owners in the tiny, cramped offices that were our headquarters in those days, were where the real identity of IDW was forged. We tried, we aspired, we messed up, we tried again, we improved, and in the end… we learned.” IDW

____________________________________________ IDW produced these Rugrats picture books. 44

45


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The Complete List of IDW Complete Idiot’s Guides For the past several years, we’ve worked with Alpha Books/Pearson Education producing a number of titles for their Complete Idiot’s Guide series. In most cases these were of the “Illustrated” variety, meaning along with an explanation of the subject itself there were many step-by-step how-to instructions for drawing.

CIG to Drawing Basics, Illustrated This book served as a general introduction on how to draw, with words and text provided by Frank Fradella. Similar to the case with Manga, Illustrated, Alpha had an old title of the same name that they just weren't pleased with. They wanted more of a focus on the step-by-step process of art creation, which we provided in this volume. ________________________________________________ In addition to creating the style guide for The Man Show, IDW provided the design for this six-pack of beer.

CIG to Drawing Manga, Illustrated This title was really two-in-one. At first, we were hired to provide art for a manga how-to book that was already completed, with art by David Hutchison. But Alpha wasn’t completely happy with the text they had, so it led to a total revamp of the book. The new and improved text was provided by John Layman.

CIG to Drawing Manga, Illustrated (2nd Edition) The originally CIGDM proved so popular that an updated, revised version was needed. The text was cleaned up and augmented, while David added a few extra art pieces as well.

CIG to Manga Fantasy Creatures, Illustrated The second manga-related CIG book we produced marked the writing debut on the series for gaming guru Matt Forbeck, while we went straight to Japan to provide the art, using native talent Tomoko Taniguchi. The subject this time was the fantastic creatures that populate the pages of manga in all their wild and wacky forms.

CIG to Drawing Manga Shoujo, Illustrated With Matt and Tomoko now in place as our regular Manga CIG team, we explored the softer side of the genre with a how-to book on Shoujo manga. Not as well known in the U.S. as some of its cousins, this subgenre focuses on the female readership of manga. Caution - extreme cuteness levels!

CIG to Drawing Superheroes and Villains, Illustrated Moving away from manga, this guide focused on the men in tights–heroes and villains of the traditional comic superhero variety. Rather than focusing on pre-existing characters, the guide provided original characters as a springboard to spark the readers’ own creativity. Matt Forbeck provided the text, with art by Yair Herrera.

CIG to U.S. History This was a bit of a different project for us, as the art was done in-house by Alpha while we provided a script. And that’s just what it was–a comic script–since the project would be a comic-style fully illustrated history of the United States. Ken Hite was the scriptwriter on this project.

Honorable Mention We also completed an entire CIG project with text by Matt Forbeck on the ins and outs of a popular RPG, but rights issues with the game unfortunately consigned that to the unpublished pile.

the whole office invariably was involved with collating and putting them together once Robbie’s design work was done. High-profile projects like these included an installment of the Final Fantasy videogame series, the syndicated TV program The Man Show, and one put together for Wilbur, a proposed children’s TV show, that even featured fauxcowskin binders! We also did some online style guides, including one for Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids. “We took a brief sidestep into the world of animated-style art with work on two Rugrats children’s books for Nickelodeon, Secret-Agent Dad and A Pickles Passover. The Klasky-Csupo people were understandably proud of their creations, and we were held to an exacting standard. There were many blueline revisions before final approval–you’d never imagine how much Angelica’s cheek or Chas’ mustache is agonized over. We also deliberately used very angled views of the art for the book, many of them upshots. This not only freed up “dead” space for the text, but also presented the art to kids from a kid’s own perspective. “One other type of creative service work that I really enjoyed was writing videogames. As games evolved, they came to have plots that moved the story along using computer-animated cut scenes. It was my job, once the ‘game’ part was

in process, to come up with and write the ‘story’ part that the cut scenes would show. On one project, ATV Offroad Fury, I had full freedom to augment the racing game with any story I chose–providing the main character could either be male or female and was never referred to by name! I also wrote a script for Warhawk that I poured my heart into for months. The idea was that the publisher would pick parts of my script and scripts that other writers had ____________________ produced to incorporate the The Wilbur style guide featured faux cow skin. best bits into the final game. Even though that game is now released on PS3 and the job’s been done for years, I haven’t had the heart to check it out and see what they might have cut. “Although in the end IDW would become known primarily for its comic line, in the beginning we were a creative service house. Those early projects, worked on by the four original owners in the tiny, cramped offices that were our headquarters in those days, were where the real identity of IDW was forged. We tried, we aspired, we messed up, we tried again, we improved, and in the end… we learned.” IDW

____________________________________________ IDW produced these Rugrats picture books. 44

45

IDW: The First Decade Chapter 3  

Kris Oprisko remembers the early days of IDW’s creative service business. whistles. If we wanted to remain active in that area, we would ha...

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