Speak of the Devil - Part 2

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Josh Blaylock continues his chat with Broken Frontier. Read the first part of this interview here.

BROKEN FRONTIER: In honor of Devil’s Due Publishing’s anniversary, what would you pick out a few highlights for the company over the past 5 years?

JOSH BLAYLOCK: That's a tough one - you're implying my memory is still in that good of shape?

1. The launch of G.I.Joe: Real American Hero#1

2. Landing the Hack/Slash film deal with Rogue Pictures

Hold on... Pee Wee's Playhouse is distracting me, making these questions harder to answer.

BF: If you could select one thing from the past 5 years to have a second chance at, what would you pick?

JB: How I structured the company in the beginning, knowing what I know now.

BF: What are your goals for Devil’s Due Publishing over the next 5 years?

JB: Most importantly, continuing to immerse ourselves in all things on the pulse of pop culture, and never lose sight of that. To never lose that dynamic culture within the company. I always want a staff that can balance responsibility with a healthy dose of arrested development. Professionalism is paramount, but tattoos and purple hair are okay too, and dammit, watching cartoons is just as important as balancing the books. If someone doesn't like it, then there are plenty of other places where they'll mesh right in. I hear they call them "normal" people.

More specifically, though...

1. Create more successful, in-house created comics.

2. Continue to produce top quality licensed comics, and expand the line-up.

3. Increase the amount of graphic novels and trade paperbacks in the book market.

4. Increase our presence on the internet as new mediums develop

5. Branch out into merchandising spin-offs from our comics, like statues, toys, etc.

6. Have at least one film or TV show successfully released, with more in the pipeline.

BF: If you could pick any license to add to the DDP stable, which one would you select?

JB: That's almost impossible to answer. As long as they're something we're proud to create, and make the company a buck, we can consider a lot.

I want to continue to grow our fantasy line-up especially, hence the recently announced DemonWars.

BF: Why has Devil’s Due succeeded as a comic publisher, while many others companies have not?

JB: Well, we have one of the most dedicated (if not THE most dedicated) crew in comics. I can count on one hand the time I've had to ask people to work overtime when necessary, and usually have to do the opposite - force people to go home - although right now anyone from the office reading this is thinking "when does he ever say that?"

To be a little blunt, we're also actually run like a business. We have regular work hours, administrative staff, holidays, structure. That's how it SHOULD be, but isn't always the case in this business. We have standard operations and procedures policies. I continually educate myself through business consultation and business support networks. There are no video game consoles at DDP. The company is structured to run WITHOUT me, so if I need to go away for a week on business, books still come out on time, things get done, etc. The company structure was really put to the test during the convention season when I had an unexpected family emergency that took me away just when I thought I'd be getting caught up, and I'm proud to say things kept chugging along.

Nothing is done without considering the consequences of it six, seven, eight months down the line. It used to be a bit more "fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants", but not by much, and not for a long time.

BF: I’ve read you have many varied business interests - from comics and pop culture to real estate - what else would you like to try your hand at?

JB: My only real hobby outside of this industry, and going to movies every week, is going to concerts and bars. I'd love to get into throwing events, concerts and parties. Maybe hold ownership in a cool bar, called, I dunno, the Devil's Due PUB?? I have no interest in actually playing music, but I'm sure I'll end up attaching myself to that industry somehow. Or 180 degrees from that, on a more altruistic agenda, helping to promote fitness and financial intelligence in the country (yeah, I know, they sound totally random, and like I'm giving a Miss America speech). It really bothers me how little they teach on both subjects in American schools, and it'd be nice to someday to contribute to bettering it.

BF: Obviously there are scores of freelancers and creators that have helped build Devil’s Due, but who are some of the behind-the-scenes players who might not always get the public credit they deserve?

JB: Sam Wells, Mike O'Sullivan, Susan Bishop, Chris Crank, Sean Dove, Caitlin McKay, Brian Crowley, my assistant Brian Torney, and DDP bookkeeper Debbie Davis all work behind the scenes to keep the machine well oiled and running at full horsepower. Aside from all the usual interaction with creators, Mike (editor) might have to spend half a day dealing with approval changes from the owners of one of our licensed comics. Sam (assistant publisher) might have to spend an hour on the phone due to a printing mistake or a shipping problem at the distributor. Crank (computer ops and web design) spends a quarter of his time fixing networking issues, or other problems that spring up with the little machines that keep us going. Two months after a major convention, Susan (marketing) might have to work with Debbie to rectify an erroneous $1,000 drayage charge from a convention center. And Caitlin (webstore) answers a lot of emails asking why the comics someone ordered a half hour ago haven't arrived yet.

Those are the things that take up an untold amount of time when all you want to do is make some cool comics and go home and watch Lost. We're still undecided on whose job it is to clean up spilled coffee drops in the kitchen or fill mysteriously empty bottles at the water cooler, and sometimes we're distracted by debates such as whether or not 28 Days Later was a zombie movie. But we're still young, and someday we'll figure these things out.

Oh, and I almost forgot to thank Dinosaur. He's the resident inflatable T-rex intern. 

Not much for conversation, but he does wear a tie.

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