Take a look inside the mind behind IDW Publishing’s new creator-owned title, Diablo House, written by IDW CEO Ted Adams.
Interview questions written by Chase Marotz.
This is the first wholly original, non-adapted comic you’ve ever written. With all of your other responsibilities as CEO of IDW, what made you want to dive into your own original title at this point?
I was invited to the Barcelona Comics Festival a couple of years ago and met Santi (Diablo House artist) during a portfolio review session. I’m a long-time admirer of the Joe Orlando-edited horror comics DC published in the 70s, specifically House of Mystery, House of Secrets, and Ghosts. It was in those comics that I first discovered the work of Bernie Wrightson and Michael Kaluta – both artists that I’ve had the great fortune to publish at IDW. In Santi’s art, I saw an artist who would have been right at home in those 70s comics – evocative of but not mimicking the work of Wrightston and Kaluta.
I knew immediately that I wanted to find work for Santi and on the flight home started to think about what eventually became Diablo House.
Can you tell us a little bit about Diablo House? What’s the basic concept? What do you think makes it stand out from other books in the market right now?
Diablo House is a mysterious house located in La Jolla, California, just up the coast from IDW’s offices. Designed by Dr. G, Diablo House is influenced by the Barcelona architect Antoni Gaudi, and like Gaudi’s world-famous Sagrada Familia, Diablo House is an ever evolving piece of architecture.
Since construction started on Diablo House in the early 1900s, rumors have swirled around it. Locals claim it’s a place where you can go to make your dreams come true, but most people see it as an odd tourist attraction that sticks out like a sore thumb in what is otherwise a sleepy coastal town that attracts the rich and famous.
In the first issue we meet Riley, the current host of Diablo House. He’s in charge of keeping the tourists happy and helping those who make the decision to try to change their lives through the unnatural way Diablo House offers.
While we learn a little more about Riley and Diablo House in every issue, the comics really revolve around stand-alone stories that tell the tales of why people are driven to do whatever it takes to make their dreams come true.
I wasn’t really planning to tackle the seven deadly sins but it’s started to turn out that way – the first issue deals with ‘greed’ and issues two and three revolve around ‘lust’ and ‘envy’. Since I’ve inadvertently gone down this road, I’ll probably address ‘pride’ in the fourth issue since that’s generally seen as the most deadly sin of the seven.
What are some of the inspirations behind Diablo House? What made you want to do a book in this genre?
In addition to the DC comics I mentioned above, I love the ‘twisted tale’ approach to storytelling. Whether that’s on TV in the form of Twilight Zone or Black Mirror, the short stories of classic genre authors like Bradbury and Matheson, or the classic EC comics of the 50s. Our very own Yoe Books imprint — run and owned by two of my favorite people, Craig Yoe and Clizia Gussoni — regularly brings readers classic horror tales in their Haunted Horror comic books and Chilling Archives of Horror Comics hardcover books. Even if I didn’t publish those titles, I’d be buying them for my collection.
While Diablo House’s primary goal is to entertain and showcase Santi’s art, there is an underlying message – the best life is one where you’re happy with what you have.
Tell us a little bit about the creative back and forth between you and Santiperez. When it comes to establishing the visual tone of the series, do you write very full, detail-heavy scripts, or do you provide a more sparse structure and let Santi fill in the rest?
I write detailed scripts that break down the action in every panel and provide a suggested layout for the page. With that said, Santi knows my layouts are just suggestions and that he’s free to change them however he’d like. He’s been a pleasure to work with and part of the fun for me is coming up with crazy things for him to draw.
He gets better with every page and I can’t wait for people to see what we’re doing in issue #2 – it’s got some unique panel layouts and big action scenes.
Nothing would make me happier than to be working with Santi for many years to come.
In what might be an industry first, Diablo House is debuting through Humble Bundle instead of on comic store shelves. What made you want to pursue this distribution route as opposed to more traditional methods?
IDW is at its best when we’re pioneering formats and new distribution models. Two of our formats – the Artist’s Editions and Micro Comic Fun Packs – have been extremely successful for us and have been copied by many of our competitors. We were also the first major comics publisher to offer our comics on phones and have continued to be aggressive with the digital distribution of our content, including having our comics available on both Apple TV and Xbox Live.
Humble Bundle has been a great distribution partner for us – allowing us to get our comics in front of a lot of new readers – and I wanted to try launching a new creator-owned book as part of a physical bundle through their site. Because it was a gamble, it felt right to take that risk myself and not ask one of our creators to do it. I’m happy to say we had a great response and it’s turned out to be a good promotion for the book.