ASP Rumor Control: Restructuring Update

by Jeff

Yes, rumors are swirling in the public comic trade forum about the future of ASP and its many award-winning and highly-praised comics and graphic novels. Are we being acquired? Are creators happy? What about Artesia? Mark Smylie answers your questions and addresses the rumors.

We’ve heard ASP’s being acquired. What’s the story?
While Archaia is not ready to put out an official press release, for the moment (and for attribution), I can let you know that we’re in the process of being acquired by Kunoichi, Inc., a creative services company based in Chicago that was co-founded and co-run by Josh Blaylock until he exited the company to focus solely on Devil’s Due. While we had some initial conversations with DDP directly, it will actually be Kunoichi that is acquiring us. Further cause for confusion may stem from the fact that we are still in separate talks with DDP about working together on a few opportunities once the Kunoichi acquisition is completed, including a potential publishing partnership of which we are one of several players in the fold. There’ll be more on all of that soon, I hope.

What’s the word from ASP’s creators?
In regards to contracts, we are indeed shifting from a more traditional publishing contract to something that can be better described as a media rights contract; this is in part a reflection both of the overall direction of the comics industry, for better or for worse—every company or individual investor that had talked to us about an acquisition expressed the same sentiment, that our IP approach would have to change to match our competitors—and Archaia’s interest in working with its creators on broader and more long-term IP development.

Despite the changes, we have tried to put in place as many guarantees of creator control and protection as we can. The creators retain creative control of their books, are consulted during any negotiations for media rights, and have final approval over them. At root, we’re still all about trying to find creators who have a specific vision they want to pursue and letting them do that in a way that hopefully profits both them and the company.

We strongly believe that the new contract is competitive with industry standards and has a high degree of creator control that can these days only be beat by self-publishing.

Will the entire ASP lineup be published under the new entity?
We’re still in the process of finalizing a few individual creator contracts, but it’s looking like most of our previously published titles will be moving forward as part of Archaia’s new publishing schedule.

When can we expect new releases?
There are a number of titles at the printer ready to go and are expected to come out within the next month or so. Some of these include: Mouse Guard #4, Gunnerkrigg Court, Mouse Guard Role-playing Game and more.

What about your book, Artesia?
I’m signing Artesia to the company under the same contract as everyone else and am remaining on board as the managing editor [of ASP].

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