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by Vince Brusio

Darby Pop Publishing is a new imprint for IDW, and its first title is solicited in the October edition of the PREVIEWS catalog. Indestructible #1 kicks off a four-issue mini-series from writer Jeff Kline (Transformers: Prime, G.I. Joe: Renegades), and to help give the reading public a leg up on Darby Pop, Jeff Kline agreed to speak with us about the new book and the new company, along with our good friend and comic veteran David Wohl, who was instrumental in getting Darby Pop off the ground and into the comic stratosphere.

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PREVIEWSworld: Tell us a little about the forming of Darby Pop Publishing. For this new IDW imprint, what is its mission statement? What new direction are you offering the publisher?

Jeff Kline: Darby Pop Publishing came about because I had grown tired of hearing myself say "I wanna start a comic book company someday."   So, with the help of Mark Wheeler (VP of Business Development), I began actively poking around... asking a bunch of very patient people a bunch of very stupid questions.  And then I met David Wohl.  And we just kinda "clicked."  We shared a similar passion for storytelling.  For building something from the ground up. And for hot pastrami sandwiches.  (It's true...)

Darby Pop's only real mission statement is: tell good stories as well as we possibly can. Coming from television, I'm pretty comfortable working in a "group" environment.  So, the idea is to create an ensemble that wants to work with us, and a readership that can't wait to see what we're going to publish next.

I don't want to speak for IDW, but I believe that part of the reason they were so willing to partner with us was because of Darby Pop's commitment to wholly original content vs. licensed properties.  They're also big fans of David's. And I think they understood pretty early on that we were going to do this in a serious way:  fresh floppies at least 8-10 times a year, a new title every other month, preview books, variants, etc. etc.  

David Wohl: I guess this probably sounds kind of corny, but I believe our mission is simple: to create a line of fun, interesting, and thought-provoking stories that don't require years of continuity to read and enjoy. It could be a (sort of) superhero story like Indestructible, or a gritty, urban sci-fi thriller like City — we're open to many different genres, and we're committed to giving our readers an experience that they will enjoy, and will (hopefully) want to come back to.

PREVIEWSworld: How do you see the state of the comic industry today, and how do you believe Darby Pop will fit into the equation? What will fans recognize, and yet also see as a fresh coat of paint?

David Wohl: I think this is a perfect time for a company like Darby Pop. Comics is a growing industry again, with new readers entering comic shops while longtime readers look for something beyond the standard superhero smash-ups. The form is exploring a multitude of genres, and fans seem willing and excited to try something new.  We hope that once readers check out the Darby Pop line, they'll see that we’re a little different than some of the other options out there, and they'll keep coming back.

PREVIEWSworld: What is discussed among members of the creative teams at Darby Pop? What’s the glue that holds Darby Pop together? They say past is prelude. Is that philosophy ever shared at the office, and spur some people to look back at what worked for other publishers and this helps gauge what could work for Darby Pop? Or do you see yourselves building the perfect beast?

Jeff Kline:  We'd be fools not to take advantage of the prior experience of Darby Pop's core team.  Renae Geerlings (our Managing Editor) has been working in comics for 15+ years.  Jason Enright (Director of Marketing) has done time on both the retail and publishing side.  And David Wohl is very, very old.  Having said that, I think we all came to this venture willing and eager to try new things. Most people in comics will tell you that this isn't a business for the faint-hearted.  And, yet, here we are.

Everyone at Darby Pop wants to work with wildly-talented people, and bring passion projects to fruition.  And every member of the core team has a voice beyond the assumed "confines" of his/her job title.  For me, nothing is more satisfying than being "in production."  And, at the moment, we're "in production" on a dozen different floppies.  By Dec. '14, we'll have nearly 40 books in the marketplace.  That's a hell of a lot of material.  It's kinda insane.  Yet, there's nothing else we'd all rather be doing; I suspect that's the "glue" that binds.

David Wohl: I think it would be short sighted, and, to be honest, kind of hubristic, to think that we couldn't learn anything from what's been done before. I mean, as Jeff said, I AM old (though not QUITE as old as him, by the way), and during my career, I've been blessed with the opportunity to work with some heavy hitters in the industry, from Mark Gruenwald at Marvel to Marc Silvestri at Top Cow, and several others. Each one of them had a very distinct vision, and while I worked with them, I tried to learn as much as I could about how they viewed the comic medium, and how those views came across in their work. That knowledge, I feel, helped mold me into who I am today, and, combined with the knowledge of the rest of the Darby Pop team, I like to think that our collective experiences have created a unique blend of skills, combining what's worked for us in the past with a new vision for what makes a successful comic company.

PREVIEWSworld: On page 179 of the October PREVIEWS catalog, Indestructible #1 is listed as the first solicitation from Darby Pop. What can you tell us about the book, and what type of readers will find it intriguing?

Jeff Kline: Indestructible is a superhero title.  It's a satire, though not a send-up.  It's an homage to pop culture.  I think it's clever.  I think it's fun.  I think the characters are relatable.  But, I wrote the damn thing.  So, I'm pretty biased.  I hope it will appeal to readers of all "types," though — honestly — I think it's always iffy to classify anyone out there as a "type."

The one word I believe applies to all the titles we are currently working on is "entertaining." That's really our sole criteria.  Indestructible is the most irreverent of our first wave.  City is the most intellectual.  The 7th Sword is the most "classic" from an action/adventure perspective.  They're all mature without being "adult."  And they're all driven by the voice and vision of their creators.  (Eric Garcia on City; John Raffo on The 7th Sword).

PREVIEWSworld: Could you tell us some web urls we could share so that readers can tune in to what’s going on month-to-month at Darby Pop?

Jeff Kline: You can find more information than you ever knew you needed about our books and creative team at http://www.darbypop.com.  You can also peek behind-the-curtain at our creative process by following us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DarbyPopPublishing, on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/DarbyPopComics, and on Tumblr at http://darbypop.tumblr.com.

Check out these interior pages from the upcoming Indestructible!