Speak of the Devil - Part 1

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You’ve got to give Josh Blaylock his due – the artist/writer/president of Devil’s Due Publishing stops by to talk about his company’s first 5 years…

BROKEN FRONTIER: What’s a typical day like for Josh Blaylock?

JOSH BLAYLOCK: Pretty packed full of any number of random tasks, pretty hectic, but probably pretty boring to anyone watching. I'm on the phone A LOT, and have meetings A LOT. Usually people are trying to wait for the phone to stop ringing off the hook to squeeze in meetings.

Here's a picture I love that sums it all up.

Okay, I only feel that way SOME of the time. Today was one of those days. It was Monday, where I usually catch up with emails, touch base with DDP management, look over new art and scripts that have come in through editorial, and acclimate for the week, but today kinda got ahead of me. The day was spent on the telephone speaking to a new corporate attorney we're switching to, discussing weekly finances with my bookkeeper, reviewing January's ad layouts with publishing, writing contracts for two new potential licensing deals, speaking to my agent at William Morris Agency about Film/TV stuff, and speaking to a screenwriter we'll be working with on some new projects. Oh, and answering this interview ;) Interspersed in that were some things for other business activities, but they don't really apply to Devil's Due.

I spent most of Sunday finishing up writing the script for Dreadnoks Declassified issue no. 2, which involved a bit of researching on some old continuity to make sure I wasn't straying from anything. G.I.Joe: America's Elite artist Josh Medors is working from the studio for a little while, so I met him for a couple of beers last night after his drive in from Ohio.

Tomorrow I'll be meeting with Mike O'Sullivan (editor) about ideas on upcoming books and creative teams, meeting with a property developer about potential locations for the company in a couple of years should we move into our own building, going over another potential license, working on a self-publishing workshop I'm holding at Phoenix Comicon later this month, and finishing off the day with an interview on Comic Geek Speak at 7:00.

It's not always this crazy, but I'm still playing catch-up from almost a month being out of the office for San Diego, Wiz World Chicago, Gen Con, and a bunch of other out of town trips in between those.

BF: The Devil’s Due re-launch of G.I. Joe in 2001 really put the company on the map. Why did Hasbro think Devil’s Due was the right place for this property?

JB: I think it was more of a case of no one else understanding the value of the property at the time. Remember, this is what IGNITED the 80's retro comic boom. A year before that when we were negotiating the deal, all of the other main publishers had very little faith in a comic that faded out in the early 90's. It caught everyone by surprise.

BF: You sort of alluded to this in an earlier answer, but your affection for Zartan and the Dreadnoks is pretty well known. What makes these characters attractive to you?

JB: Zartan's just such a crazy, "all over the place" character. He's a man of disguise, a martial artist, a military veteran, and oh yeah, a genetic freak of some sort. He has a suave sophisticated side, but chooses to run with the rough Dreadnok biker crowd. How the hell does all of that fit together? That's a heck of a challenge, and what was so appealing about this story to me. It's hard to explain why Zartan's so cool. He just is.

Or maybe it's the influence from the bikers on my Dad's side of the family. Or that time I rode from Ohio to Daytona with my aunt and uncle for Bike Week when I was 16.

No color changing ninjas in the family, though... unfortunately.

BF: Daniel Thompson’s The Dominus was recently announced as the winner of the “How to Self-Publish Comics Not Just Create Them Helping Hand” contest. What was it that impressed you about Thompson’s entry?

JB: The entries were all pretty close. This entry had the best overall business plan, though. The story and art were secondary to the business plan for this contest, but the overall concept was also something that I felt was marketable, give or take some tweaking. At the end of the day, the fate of the book is in the contestant's hands, though, I'm just there to offer my opinions and suggestions.

BF: For the upcoming Mercy Sparx and Drafted projects, why did you decide to recruit artists by way of the talent search?

JB: These are brand new ideas that we want to ensure are going to be here to stay once we launch them, and have time to develop into solid, long term titles, just like we've done with Hack/Slash. Part of that involves finding as many artists as possible to get the right team. They're also books that we know will probably have a modest launch, because, well, that's just how hard it is to launch anything new these days. Artists willing to work for the long term payoff, rather than significant up front costs. The exact terms will be negotiated with the individual talent, and is not going to be discussed, as many people keep asking, but if the book does well, everyone will share in the reward, and if it starts out slow, we'll be prepared to ride the storm.

It's basically the same model that helped up carve a niche for Hack/Slash, to continue providing kick ass comics, and also lock in movie and merchandise deals at the same time.

To be continued...

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