Perhaps it was his job in the SOU bookstore that led Ted Adams (’90) to the role of publisher and CEO of IDW Publishing and IDW Media Holdings.
“It was the best experience,” Adams said. “I got to interact with students and read books on break. Having access to all those books was fun for me.”
Today, Adams is surrounded by books – comic books – on the grandest of scales. IDW, which Adams cofounded in 1999, is one of the largest comic book publishers in the United States. The multiple award-winning company fills a unique niche in the publishing world.
“Instead of competing with the likes of Marvel comics in the superhero genre, we specialize in taking existing entertainment brands and turning them into comic books,” Adams said. “We’ve done this for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, My Little Pony and Transformers.”
Adams said he was always interested in entrepreneurship. His father, Brady Adams, was a prominent Grants Pass businessman and president of the Oregon Senate.
“I grew up in that environment, and knew from an early age that I wanted to be a business owner,” he said.
Adams said SOU’s small class sizes played a big part in helping him focus on his educational goals.
“Southern Oregon really worked for me. I had the chance to get to know my classmates, and the professors were accessible,” he said. “I feel like I got a lot out of it. I was always impressed with the faculty. They were high-caliber professionals who had also been CEOs or worked in business.”
Starting a business has its ups and downs, but Adams has found his stride. “It seems cliché, but hard work really pays off,” he said. “That is what I believe and what I tell my son. You get out of life what you put into it.
“When I was a student at Southern Oregon, I decided I was going to work hard. I got a good education because of it.”
In addition to comic book publishing, IDW works with writers and artists to publish original works. One such work, “30 Days of Night,” led to a film version in 2007. Since then, IDW has expanded into media holdings, games and merchandise, with over 200 regular employees and 250 freelancers.
There is also a three-year-old entertainment branch to fund, develop and produce television series based on IDW books. Its TV series, “Wynonna Earp,” currently airs on the SyFy channel.
Last year, IDW opened the San Diego Comic Art Gallery to showcase comic books and graphic arts. The gallery, which is designed to educate and engage the community, also offers studio space for artists in residence.
“It is the only such gallery on the West Coast, and it’s our company’s way of giving back to the community and sharing what we do,” Adams said.