Tripwire’s contributing writer Tim Cundle just spoke to IDW’s Dirk Wood about volume 3 of their unique culture magazine Full Bleed, with its third volume currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter now…
TRIPWIRE: The best place to start anything is at the beginning… So, would you like to both introduce, and tell us a little about yourself?
DIRK WOOD: But of course! I’m Dirk Wood, Creative Director at IDW:PDX/Woodworks. I’ve been in the comic industry for (gulp) just over 25 years. I had a long run as Director of Marketing at Dark Horse Comics, then moved to IDW in 2010… As VP of Marketing, I spent 7 years commuting between Portland and San Diego, then eventually settled back up in Portland and opened up a satellite office for IDW, where I find myself today, doing some really fun, interesting stuff. Beyond that, I’m married to a fabulous woman, have a couple of teenage step kids, two cats and a french bulldog that takes up large chunks of my free time.
TW: Have you always been a comic book guy? Did you grow up reading comics, and if so which books cemented your position as fan?
DW: Indeed! I learned to read on comics. I was comic MANIAC as a kid, and an early adopter among my friends, really. My sweet spot really was DC stuff, particularly war, horror, and western. And Batman. I was a Sgt. Rock, Jonah Hex, Swamp Thing, Batman kid, in the late 70s and early 80s. But I read and collected everything. Frank Miller’s Daredevil run, and the Byrne/Claremont X-men stuff really got me going from casual reader into mad collector. To put it in perspective, when I was 13 years old I guess, I bought 30 copies of Frank Miller’s Wolverine #1 and put them in mylar, because I knew it was going to be big. That funded a lot of teenage misadventures. Then, it’s the familiar story – I lost track of comics as a teenager. Then, in college, around 21, I was working at a restaurant, and a comic shop opened next door. I popped in to see what I’d missed, and…I’ve pretty much been in comics ever since.
TW: How did you make the transition from fan to professional and begin working in the industry? Working in the industry is it, in your opinion, better to switch off the fandom button and approach everything with a business mind-set or to combine both perspectives? Why?
DW: I entered the industry in a way that I think is responsible for any amount of success I’ve had since: working in a comic shop. Mike Richardson, who owns Dark Horse of course, owns Things From Another World as well, the retail chain. In those days it was called Pegasus Books, and I got a job there when I moved back to Portland at the age of 23. My first day was working for Mike’s brother Pat, at the Beaverton store, taking out the garbage and dusting old Warhammer toys. And it just went from there. Worked at the store, then managed one of the stores, then did buying for the whole chain, and eventually jumped to the mothership to do International sales, then trade shows, then marketing….. and here we are.
In terms of fandom vs professionalism, I think it is indeed a healthy mix of both that gives you the best chance for success. Let’s face it, this is a wacky business, and it always has been. I mean that as a compliment. Without getting into the weeds here, there’s just no other business out there that runs the same way. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that I think the modern version of the comic industry was literally started BY fans. I think having started in this business at the ground level has REALLY helped me along the way. I’ve grown up in it, at this point. I can’t imagine just jumping into comics professionally later in life — It would be like me trying to jump into being a biologist or something. It’s a complicated, crazy business. And although, the business has changed dramatically since I was in retail, having that in my DNA, I think is crucial. No matter how much “business” I’m in the middle of, I remember what it was like discover a comic on a spinner rack, and I remember what it was like to crack open the shipment every week when I ran a shop, and I remember what it was like to place orders for comics. Anyway, I could talk all day about that (clearly).
TW: So, tell us a little about Wood Works?
DW: Well, it’s the imprint I’m running up here in Portland, the first, and flagship title, being Full Bleed. But there’s much more on the way!
TW: And where did the idea for Full Bleed come from and who came up with it? And can you tell us all about Full Bleed?
DW: Certainly – It all came out of conversations with myself, and Ted Adams, founder of IDW. Beyond being a great boss, Ted’s a good friend. And we were actually just chatting in…mutual depression regarding the 2016 election results, to be honest. And Ted said something that stuck with me. “What can we do? We can love our families, and we can make great books.” And out of that, Full Bleed was born. We realized running a magazine is something we’d both thought about over the years. And it turned into Full Bleed – The world’s only 200-page, hardcover, print-only, comics & culture magazine! Comics, fiction, non-fiction, essays, gallery sections, and more. The starting point is comics, but it dips into a little bit of everything: film, TV, fine art, politics, travel writing, you name it. It’s a mix we’re really proud of.
TW: Do you approach writers or artists with a specific set of ideas in mind for each issue, or do they pitch you? And if it’s the latter, what draws you to, and peaks your interest in, a pitch? How does the submission / solicitation process for Full Bleed work?
DW: There’s no one answer to this one! I’ve come up with ideas and pitched specific creators, I’ve had unsolicited pitches from people I didn’t know, I’ve married artists to writers with ideas, etc etc. Regarding the second part of the question, the short answer is – I’m looking for things that I never would have thought of otherwise. Frankly, I think I’ve got good taste, but even I get sick of it! I want a lot more voices than just mine in Full Bleed. And I want them to be diverse. We’ve published a comic about being trans (Erin Nations), an interview about Afrofuturism (Abdulkareem Baba Aminu/Nnedi Okorafor), an essay about a writer’s grandfather that survived the holocaust (Jon Raymond)….and countless other things that could never have sprung from my mind. That’s what I’m really on the hunt for – Fascinating stories from people with viewpoints and histories much different than my own, things that would never have occurred to me otherwise.
TW: What’s the reaction to the first two issues been like so far? How do you feel about them now that they’re out there in the big, wide world and, I know it’s a bit like asking which of you children is your favourite, but what are your favourite features in the first two issues?
DW: Oh man, they’ve been very well-received, and that’s been super gratifying. You’re right though, I don’t know if I can pick a favourite! A few stand out beyond those I’ve already mentioned: The first article we had designed was actually one that Ted wrote, about a trip to Cuba, and it remains a highlight. It’s one that a lot of retailers have brought up with me, which I thought was interesting. My pal with Chris Ryall did an interview with Stephen King for the first one, obviously that’s going to be tough to beat. I have a soft spot for the travel writing of my friend Jarrett Melendez, they’re just great little slices of life.
And the one he did on Mexico in Vol. 3 is his best yet. I loved Kim Dwinell’s comics for both volume 1 & 2. There’s just a ton of great stuff.
TW: You’ve just begun the Kickstarter for Issue 3 haven’t you? What can you tell us about the new issue and where can people go to pledge toward it? What, and who, is going to be featured in the new issue?
DW: Yes, thanks and here’s the link!
There’s a lost interview with Grant Morrison, a great discussion between Kirk Hammett of Metallica and Scott Ian of Anthrax, a great essay by Tini Howard with illustrations by Sara Richard, another great Joe Lansdale short story, it goes on and on. You can pack a lot of great stuff into 200 magazine-sized pages, believe me.
TW: What would your dream features for Full Bleed be?
DW: Four words: Interview with Tom Waits.
TW: One of the things that we have in common is punk rock. So, what initially drew you to the scene and music, and do the things that initially inspired your inner punk rocker still continue to inspire you or has your view of the scene and music changed with time?
DW: Oh man, I was so young, it’s hard to articulate. I’m just a music fan, I love all kinds, but I was given a cassette when I was probably 14, with Never Mind the Bollocks on one side, and a bunch of Crass songs on the other. I wore it out, and I didn’t even know why. It scared me, and I liked that. The Sex Pistols sound relatively tame by comparison now of course, but when I listen to them, it’s still 14 year-old-me that’s doing it. It also kickstarted an anglophile thing, and the older I get, the more I’m interested in what comes out of England, even to this day.
TW: Which five records and bands would you recommend to someone who was interested in, but knew nothing about, the scene in order to bring them over to the punk side? And why would you choose those particular records?
DW: Boy, we could start a whole new giant conversation about this, but I guess it depends on who I was trying to convince to “come over to the punk side” – A seasoned listener, a young kid, or…? But to keep it general, if pressed, here are five punk records I’d recommend to just about anyone. And of course, it all depends on one’s definition of punk? I’ve been listening to Sleaford Mods out of the UK quite a bit lately, and I guess it’s more working class hip hop than anything, right? But as far as I’m concerned, it’s about as punk rock as it gets.
But, off the top of my head, I would recommend these five records to anybody, and trying to spread it around a little bit regionally, scene to scene:
The Clash – London Calling
X – Wild Gift
Buzzcocks – Singles Going Steady (even if it is a compilation)
The Replacements – Sorry Ma, I forgot to take out the trash
Dead Kennedys – In God We Trust, Inc.
Man, that’s hard. I can think of 14 bands that should be in here off the top of my head. Ramones, The Damned, Black Flag, Crass, The Exploited, meh. I should stop now.
TW: So what does the future hold for Dirk Wood and Full Bleed?
DW: A whole bunch of great books, some other surprises I can’t talk about yet, and…. Who knows what will show up in my in-box next? That’s the most fun, getting something I had no idea was coming.
Full Bleed Vol.3 is funding now on Kickstarter and will be out at the end of January. Also included in the issue is Tripwire editor-in-chief Joel Meadows’ London photo essay. Here’s the link again…