Chicago native Josh Blaylock wants to be a comic book publisher and founds Devil's Due Productions. It does okay, and Blaylock is a shrewd guy, knowing how to leverage his money.
DDP continues to grow, and Blaylock makes The Dreaded Move -- he starts licensing other media properties to turn into comic books. In short order, he gets the rights to make comics based on Family Guy, Duel Masters, Transformers, and G.I. Joe among others. Blaylock also discovers another local talent, Tim Seeley, and agrees to publish Hack/Slash, a certified hit for the company.
Shift forward a couple of years. Rumors start flying through the trenches that DDP is having trouble paying the talent. Blaylock gets caught out, and says he will be refocusing efforts into paying everyone what they are owed.
San Diego Comic Con that year. Blaylock's DDP booth has all kinds of stuff and booth babes wearing "Team Blaylock" T-shirts. Talent who have been waiting very patiently for their checks start asking why he's wasting money on cheerleaders.
Shift forward. DDP is in serious trouble. Tim Seeley, who is still with them and he and his creative team are not getting paid what they are owed, decides he's had enough. His options are to stay with DDP in the hopes that eventually Blaylock will pay him back or take Hack/Slash to one of several publishers who have been wooing him with attention and actual payment. However, if Seeley leaves, he basically kisses goodbye any money DDP would owe him and his creative team. Seeley can't take it anymore and pulls the trigger, jumping to Image.
It should be noted that Seeley assumed all the debt for paying his art team himself. Last year, he caught up, and everyone who ever worked on Hack/Slash for him was paid what they were owed from his own pocket. I don't like Hack/Slash, but I have nothing but the deepest respect for Seeley. He didn't have to do that, you know.
Hack/Slash was DDP's most consistent seller. It always brought in sales, which means bucks. With Seeley gone, DDP suddenly was on life support. Not helping was a very public pissing match Blaylock got into with Diamond. Blaylock accused Diamond of delayed payments and of losing or damaging DDP product, rendering it unsellable and costing DDP thousands of needed dollars. The DDP website was reduced to simply Blaylock's blog where he presented himself as bold and telling things like it is about Diamond and others while dodging those pesky little anecdotes about himself. Soon, even that went away, and DDP was no more.
Shift to last year. Checker Publishing, which specialized in reprinting out of print comics, had its own falling out with Diamond and decided to start its own distribution network. Somehow, Blaylock managed to ally with them. Devil's Due was relaunched as a digital publisher for finding new talent, and Checker would handle the collected print books. Unknown how any of this worked out.
Now, Blaylock is back. Again. He is relaunching Devil's Due as a print and digital publisher. And surprise! His stuff will be listed in Previews! Somebody had to be kissing ass until his lips chapped. Bill Schanes, Diamond’s Vice President of Purchasing, gave this quote for the press release -- “We’re excited to see what the new Devil’s Due Entertainment will have to offer comic book specialty retailers.” Wow. Talk about a vote of support.
Blaylock has also announced another little thing to go with the Devil's Due revival -- Project Rectify. The aim of this is to publish titles, and the money taken in will go towards paying back people that were left out in the cold last time. No details on how this would work (and I'm sure Seeley has a question or two), just a little "Aren't we wonderful?!?" combined with the subtle guilt trip of, "Buy this shit or you are denying people who need money what they are owed." It smells like passing the responsibility of paying people from Blaylock And Co. to us comic readers, especially those of us who didn't like the DDP line-up to begin with and are ready to pass this time.
So, here's another word of warning for my fellow denizens of the trenches. With Devil's Due back, and uncertainty about whether or not Blaylock will pull this shit again, if you want to try something for DDP, remember the two oldest lessons of the gambler.
The second oldest is, Don't wager anything you can't afford to lose.
The oldest is, remember -- the house always wins.