- Posted by Johanna on July 6, 2010 at 9:12 pm
- Category: Comic News
I hadn’t been following the tribulations of publisher Devil’s Due, mainly because I don’t read any of their comics. Most of what they’ve put out this year are a handful of issues of Hack/Slash, Jericho (based on the canceled TV show), and Presidential parody Barack the Barbarian. Nothing’s come out since April.
Last year, Rich Johnston reported that they owed a lot of money to their creators — one of whom even won a court judgment against the company — to which publisher Josh Blaylock responded that bookstore returns had been a problem for them.
We’re still dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars in book store returns that rocked us in late 2008 and into 2009, right in the middle of an already aggressive restructuring. … It’s a reminder to publishers not to be too over leveraged in the book stores.
An unpleasant example that, while sales to comic stores are non-returnable, sales to bookstores may be imaginary, and all your stock has the risk of coming back. Given those circumstances, it’s surprising that Devil’s Due is still in business, but they wouldn’t be the first comic company to stick around longer than expected by the simple expedient of not paying artists. Now comes an unexpected press release that states
Devil’s Due Publishing has pulled its distribution of comics and graphic novels from Diamond Comic and Diamond Book Distributors, effective today. The Publisher will soon be announcing its new book store distribution partners and will offer product direct to comic book retail outlets, as well as distribution through Haven Comic Distributors.
According to Blaylock, Diamond has been taking their revenue to cover debts Devil’s Due owed to the comic distributor. So while Devil’s Due comics were selling, DD wasn’t seeing the money, so they couldn’t pay their creators.
This release raises more questions than it answers. Such as, how is DD going to pay Diamond now? How is DD going to continue to sell comics, now that their tenuous financial position is so visible and Hack/Slash has moved to Image? Why isn’t Blaylock giving up now, if he’s under such financial pressure? Why would anyone order from his company? Does Diamond have the right to seize incoming funds that way?
Graeme McMillan asked Blaylock some questions to clarify, but, well, when the publisher is saying things like this:
If not for [Diamond’s] withholding of moneys for the past year, according to my estimates DDP would have been able to pay not only all talent owed, but many other creditors as well, plus a considerable amount paid back to Diamond. Instead, funds have been trickled down to us, we’ve had to slash the publishing, and hence each month the ability to rectify the situation gets smaller and smaller.
You can see why Diamond wouldn’t find “but we want to pay other people we owe before we pay you what we owe” a compelling counter-argument. It’s not Diamond’s purpose to keep tenuous publishers going. Blaylock, sadly, sounds like a dreamer who can’t face the truth that his company is unlikely to recover. And just to add insult to injury, here’s a scathing review of Blaylock’s book on How to Self-Publish Comics, which appears to be out of print.