Peter Rios reveals something that has been bubbling along undetected for a while: Devil’s Due is under negotiations to buy Archaia Studio Press. ASP is best known as the publisher of MOUSE GUARD.
Archaia announced a reorganization back in May when biz sider Aki Liao left, leaving publisher Mark Smylie to find new investors. Most creators being published under ASP expressed solidarity with Smylie, but the fate of the company and its projects has been up in the air for some time.
Now it appears that Devil’s Due, which recently announced a licensing deal with Les Humanoides, is also looking to acquire ASP’s properties. It’s our understanding that negotiations with various ASP creators — who all have their own creator-owned contracts — have been in negotiations with DD for a while now. However, according to Rios — or someone he’s quoting, it isn’t really made clear — this has hit some snags:
The purchase has hit a serious snag. A large number of the ASP creative roster are upset that Devil’s Due is refusing to honor their old ASP contracts. Under threat of non-publication, creators are being pressured to sign a new agreement which grants Devil’s Due each and every worldwide right, trademark and copyright, of every nature. Since most of Archaia’s talent signed to the company precisely to retain control of their books, this has been a major stumbling block. With DDP’s unwillingness to honor the spirit of the old contract and refusal to allow creators to take their books elsewhere severe friction has developed between publisher and talent.
Other ASP creators respond anonymously, including this one:
Truthfully, if there isn’t another publisher currently willing to pick the project up right now I’ll simply move on to other projects and give this one a whirl again later.While I don’t think everything is as sinister as your initial informant made it out to be – not being published isn’t a “punishment” of not signing on, nor is it a strong-arm tactic. It’s simply the result of not coming on board with a new regime and deciding to take the book elsewhere – it does suck that a company formed by an independent creator FOR independent creators has pulled a 180 on it’s stance regarding a creator’s rights to his or her property, as these new contracts would indicate.
Sadly, this is increasingly the way of the world. Devil’s Due is certainly within their rights to ask for the kind of deal they offer their own people, but the creators at ASP originally signed on to escape just that kind of control. And yet, clearly, being profitable wasn’t in the cards for ASP, or they wouldn’t be getting shopped around.
We have a few emails out there. Developing.
UPDATE: There is apparently much more to this story, but we’re waiting for official statements.