Devil's Due Publishing was one of the biggest indie comic success stories of last decade. The one-time imprint of Image Comics kicked off a full-scale nostalgia craze within the comic book industry in 2001 with their revival of G.I. Joe, and also launched creator-owned hits like Hack/Slash. Following a couple of fruitful years at Image, it left to strike out on its own, acquiring more high-profile licensed properties along the way.
The past few years have not been as kind to Devil's Due, with licenses and properties migrating from the company — G.I. Joe moved to IDW and Hack/Slash to Image — and reports of significant debts owed to creators. Devil's Due appeared to be just about finished, but after staying mostly quiet since 2010, founder Josh Blaylock revealed plans late last month to both return to publishing and pay off all remaining debts.
"At this time, I can't think of anything more important than that," Blaylock of squaring away Devil's Due's debt to creators. "It's so important that I listed it as one of our values, and it's right there on our website for the world to read."Blaylock is looking to deal with this matter transparently, and future releases from Devil's Due — now known as "Devil's Due Entertainment" — will contain a "Project Rectify" logo, signifying that the proceeds from the products will go directly to help paying those who are owed. Devil's Due's website states that the "prime directive" of the relaunched company is to contribue to Project Rectify.
"You need to have it there for all the people who work for you or with you to see, so whenever you fall short of it, they can call you out," Blaylock told Newsarama.
Blaylock predicts that Devil's Due's debt could be paid off in a year, and has a "vague goal" to extend Project Rectify beyond that, to benefit creators who have been burned by other publishers.
"If we're going to build the infrastructure to do this, and we're going to have a system in place for it, why not continue it after that's all taken care of?" Blaylock said. "I put it out there in writing, said it's what I want to do, and when the time comes, I don't think people will have forgotten that, and maybe by then we'll have had some other ideas contributed on how to help."Mercy Sparx. An integral step on Devil's Due's road to recovery was settling what Blaylock characterizes as a "two-year dispute" with direct market distributor Diamond, which he said helped significantly to clean the slate and move forward. The first new Devil's Due projects to come out through Diamond are scheduled for the fall, with upcoming releases in the works including the graphic novel Mercy Sparx: Under New Management (the return of a previous Devil's Due series) and 25KBC: The Aftergods, co-written by alternative history author David Hatcher Childress.
Blaylock, who has a long history as a creator as well as a publisher, is personally involved with all currently announced upcoming Devil's Due releases, but said he's also open to work with books originating from outside creators as long as it's something he's passionate about.Yumiko: Curse of the
Merch Girl.Though Diamond distribution is a major component of Devil's Due's return, Blaylock is looking to actively explore alternate methods as well, whether it be digital-first publication or working cooperatively with other publishers. Blaylock says this is reflected in the Devil's Due's new corporate identity as "pop culture cartographers." One such upcoming project is Yumiko: Curse of the Merch Girl, a multimedia graphic novel and album produced in association with rapper Murs and financed through Kickstarter, which raised $32,099 of its $25,000 goal in March.
The previous incarnation of Devil's Due was heavily associated with licensed books, with the success of G.I. Joe leading to Voltron, Micronauts, Family Guy and more. Though Blaylock says he's open to possible licensing opportunities in the future, he's doing so cautiously, saying that those books were ultimately short-term successes that didn't help his company in the long run.
"I was really passionate about G.I. Joe," said Blaylock, who wrote much of that series for Devil's Due. "It really comes down to what we were passionate about, and what we did well with, and what we were just doing to try the keep the lights on."25KBC: The Aftergods. Blaylock, who has been working in the comic book industry in one form or another since he was a teenager, is clearly eager to be back creating and promoting comic books again after two years working behind the scenes to help get Devil's Due back on the ground.
"I'm really excited about it," he said. "It's not easy to be kind of forced to sit on the bench in this thing that's been a part of your life as long as you've been an adult, and before that. People have every right to be pissed off and feel the way that they do. It'll be nice to put all that beside me and be able to focus on making some goddamn comic books."Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!