In a major acquisition in the comics marketplace, IDW Publishing has acquired Top Shelf Productions, a highly regarded independent comics house. Founded by Chris Staros and Brett Warnock, Top Shelf publishes graphic novels by an impressive list of bestselling creators that includes Rep. John Lewis (March); Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell (From Hell); and Craig Thompson (Blankets).
According to a statement released by IDW, Top Shelf will “remain a distinct imprint within IDW.” Cofounder Chris Staros will continue with the company as editor-in-chief of Top Shelf Productions, while his longtime partner Brett Warnock will leave Top Shelf to focus on a new business venture outside of comics.
The company will remain based in its current offices in Marietta, Ga. The Top Shelf staff—including publicist and marketing director Leigh Walton, designer/digital director Chris Ross, and warehouse manager Zac Boone—will remain in place. Retail distribution for Top Shelf titles will not change--both IDW and Top Shelf are distributed by Diamond Book Distributors for trade books and by Diamond Comics Distributors to the direct market.
Since its founding in 1997, Top Shelf has been considered among the premier indie comics houses, with a list of prominent authors and books comparable to such acclaimed publishers as Drawn & Quarterly and Fantagraphics Books. Among Top Shelf authors are Jeffrey Brown, Matt Kindt, Jeff Lemire, Renee French, Jess Fink, Molly Ostertag, Brendan Mulligan, Nate Powell and Andrew Aydin among others.
A far larger independent comics publisher, IDW Publishing releases a wide variety of creator-owned and licensed properties. IDW publishes such licensed titles as My Little Pony, the Star Trek series, as well as titles by Eric Shanower and Yoe! Books, an imprint headed by comics archivist and designer Craig Yoe that is devoted to classic comics reprints.
In a prepared statement, IDW COO Greg Goldstein said Top Shelf will maintain its publishing identity. “IDW is committed to preserving and growing the Top Shelf brand, which we’ve long admired,” Goldstein said, adding that he plans to provide additional funding to Top Shelf “to help secure new breakout projects.”
“Top Shelf and IDW complement each other perfectly,” said Staros in a prepared statement. “Now I’m extremely excited to combine their talents and resources with Top Shelf’s award-winning literary approach to comics.” Staros says the notion of IDW acquiring Top Shelf “hit us both at exactly the same time.” He said he was about to approach IDW about the acquisition when “they approached me to suggest the same thing. How’s that for a good omen?”