Archaia Studios Press, which stumbled with its release schedule after announcing two big waves of new titles, revealed yesterday that it’s restructuring following the departure of co-publisher Aki Liao “for personal reasons.”
Founded in 2002 by Mark Smylie as a home for his epic fantasy Artesia, ASP later grew to include books like the steampunk-samurai-Western Robotika, the anthropomorphic fantasy Mouse Guard and the historical tale The Lone and Level Sands – all well-received. The publisher also released reprints of popular European comics The Killer and Okko: The Cycle of Water.
Then in March 2007, ASP announced a dozen new titles, followed last month by eight more.
“Our growth in the last year has clearly strained our workflow capacity,” co-publisher Smylie said in yesterday’s press release. “Lateness has historically been a problem with many creator-driven and creator-owned titles, but our own workflow issues have exacerbated the situation. We are as frustrated with our struggle to get books out on time as, I’m sure, are our readers, and we want to make sure we come out of the reorganization with a better workflow and solicitation process model. So while there will be some further delays in the release of recently solicited titles as we restructure, we also want to make sure we emerge in the next few months from our reorganization with a release schedule that we can hit on a regular basis, as guaranteed as possible. We can only ask that our many supporters, retailers and fans alike, be patient with us during this time.”
The announcement brought a swift reaction from writer Brandon Thomas, whose Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury debuted in February from ASP.
“While Archaia is confident they will ultimately emerge from this, it’s obviously a huge setback for us,” Thomas wrote in his regular column at Newsarama.
“As we’ve all been given the opportunity to seek out other publishing options, that’s something we’re definitely looking into now that the news is out,” he continued. “We want to stay loyal to Mark Smylie and the crew, but it would be irresponsible not to move in this direction, at least for the next couple weeks. We’re hopeful that asking around now will be a bit easier than before, when all we had to show for ourselves was those first five pages.”
Other ASP creators — mpMann (Innana’s Tears), Josh Hechinger (Grave Doug Freshley), Dave Moran (Robotika), A. David Lewis (Some New Kind of Slaughter), and Tom Pinchuk and Kate Glasheen (Hybrid Bastards) — responded with a press release expressing confidence in the publisher, and saying they’re “optimistic and [unfazed] by the announced course correction.”
“This announcement could easily get blown out of proportions,” Lewis, who also wrote The Lone and Level Sands, said in the release. “But Mark and Aki are being totally responsible and cautious in every capacity here. They’ve been transparent about what’s going on, realistic about its effects, and dedicated to moving forward with all standing commitments -– and ASP’s growth! Aki’s departing from a very successful company that he’s helped to build, and I’m more inclined to thank him for his hard efforts than panic over what’s simply a changing of the guard.”
David Petersen, whose Mouse Guard is probably the company’s most successful title, echoed those sentiments: “I have no plans to move Mouse Guard to another publisher. Once the restructuring is complete Mouse Guard will be back on track. I apologize for the delays thus far and hope that the fans can bear with us. The coming weeks should give us a better idea of the timeline for upcoming releases.
No matter what, I am fully committed to creating more Mouse Guard and getting it into the fans hands as soon as possible.”