Yesterday, word broke of an impending deal between Archaia Studio Press and Devil’s Due Publishing. Statements have just been received from both parties in the deal, and the story going around is not entirely accurate: ASP is being acquired, but by Kunoichi, Inc., a company formed by DDP’s Josh Blaylock but owned by DDP CEO P.J. Bickett, not DDP. Bickett sent out the following statement:
Normally, Devil’s Due Publishing would not comment on unattributed rumors. But, due to the amount of queries we have received about this, we want to set the record straight.
While DDP and Archaia Studios Press had some initial exploratory conversations, DDP is not acquiring ASP. We are continuing to have conversations with Archaia about the possibilities of working together in some capacity, as we are with many other publishers both big and small.
ASP’s founder, Mark Smylie, has a longer statement with much more detail.
While Archaia is not ready to put out an official press release, for the moment (and for attribution), I can let you know that we’re in the process of being acquired by Kunoichi, Inc., a creative services company based in Chicago that was co-founded and co-run by Josh Blaylock until he exited the company to focus solely on Devil’s Due. While we had some initial conversations with DDP directly, it will actually be Kunoichi that is acquiring us. Further cause for confusion may stem from the fact that we are still in separate talks with DDP about working together on a few opportunities once the Kunoichi acquisition is completed, including a potential publishing partnership of which we are one of several players in the fold. There’ll be more on all of that soon, I hope.
In regards to contracts, we are indeed shifting from a more traditional publishing contract to something that can be better described as a media rights contract; this is in part a reflection both of the overall direction of the comics industry, for better or for worse — every company or individual investor that had talked to us about an acquisition expressed the same sentiment, that our IP approach would have to change to match our competitors — and Archaia’s interest in working with its creators on broader and more long term IP development. Despite the changes, we have tried to put in place as many guarantees of creator control and protection as we can; at root, we’re still all about trying to find creators who have a specific vision they want to pursue and letting them do that in a way which hopefully profits both them and the company. I’m signing ARTESIA to the company under the same contract as everyone else and am remaining on board as the managing editor, so I wanted to make sure that creators had as much final say over their properties as possible. We’re still in the process of finalizing a few individual creator contracts, but it’s looking like most of our previously published titles will be moving forward as part of Archaia’s new publishing schedule. We strongly believe that the new contract is competitive with industry standards and has a high degree of creator control that can these days only be beat by self-publishing.
Re the story going around yesterday about ASP creators being “strongarmed” to sign new contracts, we’ve heard from at least one ASP creator who clearly felt that he’s being treated fairly. More to come.