IDW editor-in-chief exits as reports emerge that the company may be losing Transformers and GI Joe licenses

Transformers vs. GI Joe #13 variant cover
Transformers vs. GI Joe #13 variant cover (Image credit: Tom Scioli (IDW Publishing))

IDW Publishing's editor-in-chief John Barber has announced that he's stepping down from his position, and leaving the company entirely. 

"[Friday] will be my last day working at IDW. It's not sudden, having been planned for a while now, of course," Barber writes on LinkedIn.

John Barber

(Image credit: IDW Publishing)

Barber has been IDW's editor-in-chief since May 2018, when he returned to the company after a two-year hiatus. He previously served as one of the publisher's senior editors from 2011 to 2016.

This exit comes as reports emerged on December 10 that the Transformers and G.I. comic book licenses could be up for grabs, with Robert Kirkman's Skybound Entertainment reportedly being one of the top contenders. IDW acquired the comic book licenses for those two properties in 2005 and 2008, respectively, and quickly became key pillars to the company's comic book publishing line ever since.

"It's been a wild past couple years, in terms of life and world events, and I'm very happy and excited to start the next phase of things," Barber. "I've worked at IDW far, far longer than I have anywhere else, making friendships and forging professional relationships that will last a lifetime. Thanks to everybody who's been there, on-staff or outside. I wish all my IDW friends nothing but the best!"

IDW has not posted a job opening for the position, but have listed several high-end editorial positions on its career page (executive editorial director, group editor, and senior editor of originals). It's possible that one of IDW's current top editors could be promoted to the position, but we can't discount that someone new from the outside could be brought in.

"Thanks also to our creative partners, whether they're individual creators or the people working at huge corporations," Barber ends with. "Again, lifelong friendships have emerged and I couldn't have hoped for a better set of people to work with—I'll miss the day-to-day interaction, but it's a small world, and I'm sure we'll see each other again soon."

In addition to editing comics, Barber has been a popular comics writer with extensive work on IDW's Transformers comic books, the Transformers vs. G.I. Joe crossover series, as well as the recent Punisher/Doctor Strange: Magic Bullets limited series.

Barber doesn't disclose what exactly he's doing next, beyond "new creative endeavors."

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Chris Arrant

Chris Arrant covered comic book news for Newsarama from 2003 to 2022 (and as editor/senior editor from 2015 to 2022) and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table. (He/him)