Ted Adams didn't sweat it when he was informed that, in order to move his comic book company into a large office inside NTC at Liberty Station's art district, the company would have to include an art component open to the public.
"We could have accomplished that just by having our art up on the walls and letting people walk through the offices," says Adams, CEO and publisher at Idea and Design Works (IDW) Publishing. "It certainly could have been accomplished that way, but we really did start thinking about it from a 'Well, this is our chance to give back to the community' perspective and it felt like a good opportunity to show the public what comics are all about and how they're made."
Co-founded by Adams in 1999 in a small office in Pacific Beach, IDW has since become the fourth-largest comic book publisher in the U.S. At first, Adams says the gallery was only going to take up a small area of IDW's new facility, but when it opened in June, the San Diego Comic Art Gallery took up a quarter of the space and included a lending library and a retail space. The first exhibition, which is on view through the end of the year, is devoted to the art of Kevin Eastman, one of the co-creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It includes original art and panels from TMNT's beginnings as a comic in the '80s, as well as a permanent replica of Eastman's studio adorned with Ninja Turtle paraphernalia from floor to ceiling.
For Adams, the Eastman show is just phase one of the new space. He's hired former Library of Congress curator Harry Katz as the gallery's curator and wants to get started on an artist-in-residence program where international comic artists would use part of the gallery as their studio. Adams says he isn't sure what the next exhibition will be, but IDW has a wide range of characters to choose from since they have ongoing partnerships with everyone from the Cartoon Network and Hasbro to Disney and Archie books.
"For us, we're never going to try to do a show to try to sell books," says Adams. "It's very much about what will look cool and get people excited about wanting to come to look at the art."