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Devil's Due and 1First Comics Merge to Form New Publisher

In the first major shakeup in independent and creator-owned comics publishing in several years, Devil's Due Entertainment and 1First Comics have formed Devil’s Due / 1First Comics, a new comic book studio that merges their collective business infrastructures, operations, and extensive comic book libraries. The two Chicago companies, who have over the past year been quietly developing more than two dozen new titles, begin shipping to North American comics retailers under their new imprint in September. Through the end of the year the imprint will release six original graphic novels and launch five original monthly series, as well as ship trade collections of some of each company’s fan favorite titles.

Starting in September all titles from 1First Comics and Devil’s Due Entertainment will ship under the Devil’s Due / 1First Comics label, available to retailers through Diamond Comic Distributors. Titles will also be available to fans and retailers directly from the publisher.

1First Comics pioneered independent comics publishing in the 1980s, and had an iconic ten year run of titles, innovations, and “firsts”. The company was acquired as part of a public offering in 1992, and co-founder Ken F. Levin moved into working with some of the comics industry’s top writers individually. After the new owners allowed the company’s publishing to linger, Levin reacquired 1First Comics. In 2011 Levin announced the return of 1First with new projects, and this September will see its return to North American bookstores through Diamond Distributors. Its first year of releases will include both original monthly series and original graphic novels from such creators as Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner, Dan Schaffer, The Fillbach Bros., Orlando Harding, Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, Sean Azzopardi, the Soska Twins, Steve Stern, Dan Cote, Matt & John Yuan, Dan Dougherty & Raf Nieves, Omaha Perez, Dan Schaffer, Matthew Sturges, Dave Justus, John Lucas, Annie Wu, Kelley Jones, Glenn Farrington, Mike Baron, David Hahn, Val Mayerik, Max Allan Collins, and a host of others.

Since its relaunch in 2012, Devil’s Due has cultivated a diverse line of independent and creator-owned titles, with successes including Squarriors, Solitary, Plume, Scorch, Mercy Sparx, Yumiko: Curse of the Merch-Girl, and Tales of Mr. Rhee. It recently announced the addition of a new digital-first initiative to its publishing slate (including titles Drafted: AWOL and Galaxys for Hire), a worldwide cross promotion with hard rock band System of a Down for the original graphic novel Operation Nemesis: A Story of Genocide and Revenge, and the film-optioning of science fiction series Drafted by Benderspink Productions.

“Sometimes the planets just align, which is what happened here.” said Devil’s Due founder Josh Blaylock. “Ken and I have known each other for a number of years, and this merger with 1First is the true kind of partnership I’ve been patiently waiting to find since our relaunch. One that will help us continue to evolve, and stay on the fast track of becoming a major force in comics.”

Levin, 1First Comics’ director of creative content, “When we started 1First Comics, our goal was to put out a great book every single time. That goal has never changed. We believed in creator freedom, finding people who can do different things and giving them the freedom to do it, and we still do. I love the energy and edginess Devil’s Due brings, and by combining we suddenly have the gravitas to grab attention from the mini-majors. I know this will be seen down the road as a banner day for true comics fans.”

Both 1First and Devil’s Due have independently disrupted the status quo in the comic book landscape in the past: 1First Comics throughout the Eighties by trailblazing original independent, creator-driven comics in a time when Marvel and DC were the only major publishing alternatives, and Devil’s Due in the early 2000s by kickstarting an ‘80s retro boom (and general licensed comic landscape that shaped the comic industry we have today) with the releases of G.I. Joe, Voltron, Micronauts and G.I. Joe vs. the Transformers, followed by a string of original and creator-owned properties and a plethora of deals in Hollywood.

“Our mission statement,” said Levin, “is for a fan to be in a retail store, see the new Devil’s Due / 1First Comics imprint on a book they’ve never heard of, and be willing to roll the dice and buy it because we’ve never disappointed them… and then being happy they did. That’s a tall order for us to live up to, but we’ve each done it before, and Josh and I and our team are relishing the challenge to do it again. Only better.”