IDW Founders Collection

July 27, 2023
Items from IDW Collection

When award-winning publisher of comic books, graphic novels, and art books IDW Publishing started in 1999, it was four people in a windowless office above a Tower Records store in Pacific Beach. It is now a publicly traded company and the fifth-largest comic book publisher in the United States. 

IDW’s Top Shelf Productions imprint is renowned for publishing works of literary significance including the #1 New York Times and Washington Post bestselling trilogy, March, by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell, and George Takei’s graphic memoir, They Called Us Enemy (both recent One Book One San Diego book selections). IDW has also partnered with the owners of major brands to publish many successful licensed titles, including Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesStar TrekDungeons & Dragons, My Little Pony; Sonic The Hedgehog, and Godzilla. The company has also grown to include IDW Entertainment to produce TV shows and IDW Games with board and card games.

From the very beginning, IDW founders Ted Adams and Robbie Robbins kept a copy of everything that they published. A new title would come out and they would toss a copy in a box. As the boxes filled, they were moved to a storage facility. In 2022, they were moved from the storage facility to the University Library as Adams and Robbins donated the IDW Founders Collection to SDSU. 

After almost 20 years with the company they founded, Adams and Robbins left IDW in 2018 to start Clover Press the following year. even then, they continued to purchase the IDW books published after their departure to keep the collection complete.

Ted and Paula Adams (née Beerman, SDSU '00 and '07) also made a bequest to the library. “We're also incredibly thankful for Ted Adams' visionary generosity in making a significant pledge and bequest to support the collection,” the dean said. “These gifts will establish an endowment to ensure that the Library has the resources in perpetuity to preserve and maintain the materials, and engage students, faculty and researchers to explore this very unique collection.”

The addition of more than 20,000 titles will enhance SDSU’s already robust comics collection. In addition to items created for standard publication, this unique collection includes special convention editions, retailer incentives, exclusives for big box department and toy stores, and items with limited distribution to schools and libraries. The collection also includes single issue comic books, trade paperbacks, limited editions and hard-covers. There are rare publications that were never distributed, items created as wedding gifts, promotional ashcans, prototypes for books never published, scripts for unproduced movies, advance reader’s editions and items previously only made available to IDW employees. For a multisensory experience, the collection also includes scented editions of Strawberry Shortcake comics. 

There are also hand-drawn sketches by Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo), Dan Khannan (Transformers: Infestation), Kevin Eastman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Gordon Purcell (Star Trek: Infestation), Katie Cook (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic), Eric Powell (Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters), and Dan Schoening (Ghostbusters: Infestation).

Comics are afforded significant study in at least 16 SDSU classes, and the Center for Comics Studies, a collaborative and innovative nucleus of comics research, scholarship, and action, is actively developing additional courses and a Certificate in Comics Studies. Professors choose parts of the collection to enhance many curricula: art and comic creation are the most obvious; comics that portray social justice issues are meaningful throughout the curriculum; and, comics about historic events are a creative way to study history. Adams hopes that the IDW Founders Collection will also be used to illustrate entrepreneurship and business practices, and how a publishing empire was created.

Students, faculty, the community, and researchers from around the world all have access SDSU’s comics collection. Some are available through regular circulation and some must be viewed on-site through an appointment with Special Collections. Popular Culture Librarian Pam Jackson produced a video to give an overview of the library’s collection and how comics in the SDSU library may be viewed. There is also a library research guide to help library users learn more about the comics collection.

Comics Corner, sponsored by alumnus Jack Sword, is a comfortable space in Love Library to curl up with some of the circulating comics, and view an exhibit of some of the comics from the new IDW Founders Collection. 

University Library Dean Scott Walter says, “San Diego has been home to a vibrant community of comic book writers, artists, and publishers for decades, and has become a global center for the study of comics, graphic art, popular culture, and fandom with the rise of the San Diego Comic-Con and, more recently, the establishment of the Comic-Con Museum. With the addition of the IDW Founders Collection to the University Library, San Diego State extends its commitment to learning, scholarship, and community engagement in an area of study that is distinctively San Diego's.”

Categorized As