Friday, May 27, 2011

IDW WEEK: Interview with Editor in Chief Chris Ryall

As we wind down IDW Week, we are delighted to close out the festivities with Chief Creative Officer and Head Honcho Chris Ryall. He's given us some very colorful responses as he closes the door on his reign in the Angel-verse. Thanks to everyone who participated in this IDW-lovin' event. We've had a blast!

Buffyfest: What is your favorite behind the scene memory since you've been working in the Whedonverse?

Chris Ryall: Really, as much as I've enjoyed the comics themselves, I'd say my best memory is essentially the collective memory of working with such great people. Which is a broad answer, really, and involves many creators, but that was always the best part of the process. Angel was the first title I worked on when I started here in 2004, and along the way, being able to involve Peter David in writing IDW books, following the series done by outgoing IDW EIC Jeff Mariotte, was a thrill for me. I've been a fan of Peter's for two decades, and him doing that first Spike book for us has led to many other projects. Similarly, it was great to get my friend and great writer and co-conspirator Scott Tipton his first comic-writing gigs, too. Scott has really developed into a special writer, and handled the Angel books with a very deft touch.

And working with Brian Lynch on his first Spike series was not only gratifying to me to get yet another great friend and supremely talented writer involved with the Whedonverse, but it also introduced me to Franco Urru. Franco, and David Messina, have been the artistic heart of the Angel books for the duration, with great contributions from people like Stephen Mooney, Elena Casagrande, Nick Runge, and so many other talented people. I know this is turning into a list of names, which is essentially what my final little two-pager in this week's Angel Yearbook was, but working with such creatively inspiring people has been the thing that I will always remember from our time with Angel. Much moreso than any one day's memory, although there have been many singularly notable events when I look at things with a micro view, too.

Working on Angel felt in large part to me what creating comics should feel like. Sharing ideas, bouncing things off one another, working with friends and very inspired, inspiring people... throughout our time with the license, it brought with it the very best that comics collaborations have to offer.

Add to that the chance to do good things like tell a Lorne tribute story with a creator as gifted as John Byrne and a partner as close to the late and very missed Andy Hallett as Mark Lutz; the chance to bring in Juliet Landau to work on Drusilla stories; Joss Whedon (!) getting involved to tell stories here; and even the developing relationship I have with Scott Allie at Dark Horse now (platonic only, although maybe there is actually some "Chrott" slash-fic out there somewhere?) -- when we started on Angel, and when I joined IDW, there seemed to be a lot of enmity between the two companies, and that's all a thing of the past now. The bad incidents fade into the ether, but man, the abundance of great memories of our time with Angel will Not Fade Away.

Buffyfest: Which character are you going to miss the most and why?

CR: Probably Scott Allie's Hair, which -- I don't know how many people realize this, but it actually achieved full sentience in 2007, and is quite adept at quietly calling the shots in Oregon.

Also, Spike. See below for my longer reasons why, but essentially, he was just such a good comic character, and opened up endless story options.

Buffyfest: Where do you see Angel in 20 years?

CR: Back with IDW, of course. I mean, in the interim, it will leave Dark Horse after a few years and go to Dynamite, where Alex Ross will paint a gorgeous Betta George miniseries; and then Archie will do a version of the characters in Riverdale for a few years. The license will then be split, as the new Whedon-less movie creates a different version of Spike, so both Archaia and a new publisher, Derivative Comics, will both be doing competing versions of the character in comic form. That will end badly, in the Great Licensed Comics Chaos Event of 2019, where every single licensed character in history will crossover in one gigantic, 200-issue event series. The two Spikes touch hands and it's like matter and anti-matter meeting, and there's an implosion that will destroy every licensed comic character except for, curiously, the Katzenjammer Kids, who will make a 100-plus-years-in-the-making comeback in The Katzenjammer Kids: After the Fall, which also includes their new blonde half-brother, Spike. The only way I will know any of this, however, is when my daughter Lucy, who will be running IDW editorial then, telepathically notifies me at the Home for Wayward Comic Folk. I stop bathing in my own drool and ranting about "the good ol' days of four variant covers" long enough to respond, and then I go back to sleep. And my sleep will be filled with dreams of Spike. And they will be good dreams.

Buffyfest: Finally, the most important question of your tenure, Spike or Angel?

CR: As much as the license was Angel, and we launched with an Angel series, and we told the big Angel: After the Fall story... it's got to be Spike. Spike, in the hands of people like Lynch, Tipton, and David, just proved to be so much more versatile, and so much more fun. And the expansion of Spike's supporting cast with Lynch's new characters just gave him added depth, and added sources of humor, too. I'm going to miss it all, but I'll really miss the chance to do more Spike comics along those lines.

And a final note of thanks to you all at Buffyfest, and Angel fandom at large. That's been another very enjoyable part of this whole run, the interactions and passionate exchanges with fans who both liked and didn't like but always (usually) supported what we did. I think we all had fun together. Hope your experiences going forward with Angel and Buffy comics are just as enjoyable from your side, too. And if they're not, well, I blame the sentient Hair.

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