Robot 6

The Middle Ground #101 | Second verse, same as the first?

And in today’s response to the question “Can’t you ever just be happy about something?” the answer seems to be “Apparently not.” After all, I can think of many reasons why I should be more upbeat about the return of Devil’s Due Publishing — not least of which is the promise to pay creators monies owed from the last incarnation of the company — but, to be honest, the best I can muster is a mix of apathy and cynicism. Where’s the joy?

Perhaps the joy is beaten back by seeing the acronym NFP on the publisher’s “Project Rectify” logo, which is explained by the description of the company’s new “first priority,” which is — according to Josh Blaylock’s email announcing the publisher’s return — “taking care of the remaining talent bills of the old DDP company.” He goes on to explain what this means:

Behind the scenes, in the past couple of years, I have been able to personally negotiate and reduce the old DDP’s debts of over a million bucks by a sizable six figures, but a large debt remains that is creator-related. Now though we will be able to distribute products and focus 100% on the creators, and I think, comic-community willing, we’ll be able to garner enough support to squash this debt once and for all.

I think we can do it within a year.

Here’s the thing: That doesn’t mean that the company is now a not-for-profit company. It means that the company’s profits are going to be used to pay the company’s debts, which is something else entirely (I’m pretty sure that’s called “the normal way you run a business, before you turn a real profit” in fact). There’s something on the new DDP website about Project Rectify having a wider focus once the initial DDP debt is paid off:

Once the Devil’s Due Publishing talent is paid, Project Rectify is going to continue, helping other creators who have been burned by the collapse or bankruptcy of OTHER companies, which has happened all too many times. It does not make up for the past, but it is our way of giving back when our fans have stuck by and supported us through our hardest times.

Again, I feel like I should be more excited and optimistic than I am – Someone is standing up for the little guy! Admittedly, it’s one of those who’d screwed the little guy before, but … they’ve learned the lesson of their ways? Maybe?

(Seeing that the plan seems to Kickstarter the printing of the book and then use the profits to pay off creators, you could definitely argue that lessons have been learned. Part of me does think “If the aim is to pay off creators, then why not just Kickstarter that amount, and cut out the middle man?” but that’s why I’m not a businessman.)

Maybe the cynicism comes from being worried that this just won’t work. After all, to raise the idea of being able to pay all those creators after so long, only for it not to happen…? That seems particularly cruel, and perhaps my coldness to the idea has more to do with a protectiveness to not be fooled again, a preemptive strike of “meh” in case things go south. But, even with that, I feel guilty: After all, if others have the same reaction I’m having, doesn’t that make DDP’s second failure so much more likely to fail…?

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If I remember correctly, Kickstarter won’t let any money be raised for charity, which is what this would amount to. So DDP is doing it the only way they can: get the book paid for in advance of printing. Good for them.

Obviously, the proof is in the pudding, but I’m willing to give the “new” Devil’s Due a shot. If they screw this up, though, they’re done. I doubt there’s any way they’d ever recover any credibility whatsoever.

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