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IDW Acquires Top Shelf

Top Shelf ProductionsWell, this is interesting news to wake up to. Today I awoke to the news that IDW Publishing has acquired Top Shelf Productions. With this acquisition IDW jumps immediately to become one of the top graphic novel publishers on the market, adding to their solid monthly comic releases.

The comic publisher had been looking for a company that would compliment their publishing line-up, and Top Shelf brings a niche of top of the line graphic novels. IDW had been interested in pursuing an acquisition (or a few according to their announcement) for some time and earlier in 2014 retained industry veteran Bill Schanes (former VP of purchasing for Diamond) as a consultant to thoroughly investigate acquisition opportunities. Top Shelf, as it turned out, was by far the best of these and Bill facilitated the “matchmaking” early on. Once the companies got to know each other better, the rest was, as they say, history.

Top Shelf will remain a distinct imprint within IDW and co-founder Chris Staros will join the company as Editor-in-Chief, Top Shelf Productions. Top Shelf’s fans can expect the same independent editorial approach that has garnered industry-wide awards and made it an envy among its peers.

While Chris’ long-time friend and business partner, Brett Warnock, has decided to retire from the world of comics and explore business opportunities through his newly launched food and nature blog, the rest of the Top Shelf staff will remain in place to continue Top Shelf’s indy-focused operations: Leigh Walton as Top Shelf’s Publicist & Marketing Director; Chris Ross as Lead Designer & Digital Director; and Zac Boone as Warehouse Manager.

IDW PublishingIDW’s main role will be the support and management of Top Shelf’s infrastructure — production, sales, marketing and promotional initiatives. IDW will also provide additional funding to secure new breakout projects so that Top Shelf can direct their full attention to producing fan-favorite award-winning books. IDW will also use its 15 years of publishing experience to further enhance Top Shelf’s incredible line-up and ensure that the backlist is always available to an expanded retailer and consumer base.

Founded in 1997, Top Shelf Productions offers a broad library of comic books and graphic novels from dozens of the industry’s top independent creators. Following the acquisition, Top Shelf’s headquarters will remain in Marietta, GA.

IDW has announced that the Top Shelf publishing agreements will be honored in full, with all creator rights and deal points continuing as they are currently written. IDW will also be able to ensure that Top Shelf’s extensive catalog stays in print, and all creators receive royalties on the solid schedule IDW is known for.

The exact terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

This is the latest announcement of acquisitions by comic publishers. BOOM! Studios acquired Archaia in 2013 and Aspen acquired Big Dog Ink in 2014. We expect more of this to come in 2015.