IDW Publishing is purchasing Top Shelf Productions, a leading publisher of independent graphic novels. The news was announced this morning via press release. Financial terms of the purchase was not disclosed.Top Shelf was founded in 1997 by Chris Staros and Brett Warnock and quickly established itself as one of the top publishers for high-quality independent graphic novels. Among the company's notable releases are Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Craig Thompson's Blankets, March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, and From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. Top Shelf's publishing model tended to focus on launching comic releases during conventions, which has been controversial with retailers at time.
Per the press release, IDW will be retaining the Top Shelf brand as an independent imprint, and all Top Shelf employees will be retained. Staros will also be joining IDW as the editor in chief of the Top Shelf Brand. His long time partner Warnock will be retiring from comics. IDW will also honor all of Top Shelf's publishing deals and plans, and will continue to pay creators on their current royalties agreement.
Upcoming Top Shelf releases that will now presumably be distributed by IDW include the second volume of March, a new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Nemo graphic novel and new graphic novels by Nate Powell, James Kochalka and Keith Knight. Top Shelf's website also lists approximately 20 additional upcoming titles with no release date that will now be published under IDW's ownership.
Top Shelf's purchase positions IDW to better compete with publishers such as Boom! Studios, who purchased their own boutique brand in 2013 with the acquisition of Archaia Entertainment. This could also mean wider distribution of Top Shelf books, as IDW has more resources than the smaller publisher.
We wish all those affected by the purchase the best and hope for a smooth transition by all parties involved.