Comics Lowdown: Oni Press, Lion Forge announce merger, restructuring, layoffs

Plus: Patrick Gleason, Emily Carroll, awards and more!

Oni Press and Lion Forge will merge in order to “strengthen their library of original comics and graphic novels and help them to leverage their characters on other media platforms, including animation and film,” according to a story in the New York Times. The new publishing company will fall under the Polarity umbrella, a media entertainment entity launched by Lion Forge co-founder Dave Steward II last year.

The new company’s combined publishing efforts will be overseen by Oni Press publisher James Lucas Jones, who will be president and publisher. “We’re going to take a look at efficiencies and identify a number of areas of growth as well,” said Steward. The Beat details several layoffs that have already occurred at both companies, including Andrea Colvin, Lion Forge’s editor in chief, and Oni’s Desiree Wilson. According to Publisher’s Weekly, Joe Nozemack, founder of Oni Press, will join the new entity’s board and serve in an advisory role.

As far as their publishing lines go, Lion Forge Senior Publicist Jeremy Atkins tweeted that Oni Press “will be the publisher of all creator-owned books going forward,” while company-owned IP, like the Catalyst Prime universe, will fall under the Lion Forge banner. This one is still developing, so no doubt more information on the new structure and publishing entity will be forthcoming.

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Comics Lowdown: Remembering Stan ‘The Man’ Lee

Plus: ‘The Brotherhood’ writer revealed! Transformers’ growing female fan base! Plus Art Spiegelman, Stan Webb and the scariest comic panel in ages!

Following the death of Marvel legend Stan Lee on Monday, many outlets covered not only his death, but turned the focus on his wide-reaching life and legacy. Some of the mainstream coverage included:

  • The New York Times not only wrote a thorough obituary of “The Man,” but also featured a comic by Brian Michael Bendis, Bill Walko and Howie Noel.
  • Peter David, freelance comics writer and a former Marvel employee, wrote a remembrance of Lee for Vulture. “Still, there was a time where Stan became the incarnation of that line from The Dark Knight: You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain. In the ’80s and ’90s, it became increasingly stylish to bash Stan, to accuse him of hogging attention for his creations from the artists. But the fact is that before Marvel Comics, comics writers and artists were anonymous. It was Stan who made the artists the centerpieces of the work, giving them snappy nicknames like ‘Stainless’ Steve Ditko, ‘Genial’ Gene Colan, ‘Larrupin’’ Larry Lieber (no, even his brother wasn’t immune), and many others. We would come to know the artists (and other writers) as well as, if not better than, members of our only families. DC editors were so disdainful of this practice that they referred to him as ‘Stan Brag,’ before eventually following suit and crediting people.”
  • Roy Thomas, a legendary comics writer in his own right, shares the memory of his last Saturday spent with Lee at the Hollywood Reporter.
  • Marvel dedicated a special section of their website to Lee, with a tribute video.

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Comics Lowdown: ‘XIII’ creator William Vance passes away

Plus: Police investigate Mangamura, the world’s largest comics collection and more.

Passings: The Belgian artist William Vance, creator of the French-language series XIII, has died at the age of 82 from Parkinson’s disease. Born William van Cutsem in Belgium in 1935, Vance served a year in the military and then studied for four years at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. He began working for Tintin magazine (not the eponymous series, as stated in one obituary) in 1962, drawing four-page stories, and then launched the his first series, Howard Flynn (written by Yves Duval). He also was the artist for Bruno Brazil, and then he took over as the artist of Bob Morane, a series that had been started by Dino Attanasio. In 1984, he and Jean van Hamme launched XIII, a complex series partially inspired by Robert Ludlum’s Bourne character. Vance illustrated 18 volumes of XIII, which sold over 14 million volumes and was adapted into a television series. In 2010 he announced his retirement due to Parkinson’s disease.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Hazel Newlevant on ‘Sugar Town’ and more

The comics creator and editor discusses her own projects, including her next graphic novel, working at Lion Forge and more.

Hazel Newlevant has been making a big impression in comics in just a few years. She received a Xeric grant for Ci Vediamo and a Queer Press Grant for If This Be Sin, and last year received an Ignatz Award for her minicomic Tender-Hearted. Newlevant is also an editor at Lion Forge Comics, and has edited the anthology Chainmail Bikini and co-edited the recent Comics for Choice with Whit Taylor and O.K. Fox

Sugar Town, which was published late last year, is her longest single work to date and her best. The book is an emotional and thoughtful look at falling in love and exploring the emotional work of polyamory. It felt like a breakthrough for the creator in a number of ways. Newlevant and I have spoken before, and I reached out to talk with her about the fact that she’s had a very busy 2017, the ways she used color in Sugar Town, and her upcoming graphic novel No Ivy League.

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Comics Lowdown: Looking at the big picture

Comics retailers discuss the comics market, Lion Forge profiled and more.

The Biz, Part I: It’s generally agreed that 2017 was a lackluster year (at best) for comics retailers. Publisher’s Weekly’s Shannon O’Leary went to the source, asking retailers in the direct market and bookstores with a large graphic novel section to discuss what’s going wrong—and right—in the comics market. There’s lots to chew on here, with commentary about Marvel, Image, and the structural issues in the direct market.

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Comics Lowdown: The Diversity issue

Black comics festivals, indy publishers, and the history of women in comics.

Festivals: West Coast: It’s Martin Luther King Day, and this past weekend brought festivals celebrating black comics to both sides of the country. In San Francisco, Nanette Asimov writes about the Black Comix Arts Festival, which runs through today, and interviews creators Tony Medina and John Jennings as well as an attendee.

Festivals: East Coast: At the New York Times, George Gene Gustines turns his focus to the Black Comics Festival, which took place this past weekend at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City, and he interviews David Heredia, the creator of the animated video series Heroes of Color and a guest at the festival.

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Lion Forge donates $25,000 to support Gulf Coast retailers

Publisher offers support through the Book Industry Charitable Foundation to help comic retailers affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Comics publisher Lion Forge has donated $25,000 to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation to support comic retailers affected by Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the Gulf Coast region of Texas and Louisiana late last month.

Lion Forge founder and owner David Steward II and Chief Creative Officer Carl Reed made the announcement via video, which was posted to their social media accounts:

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Comics Lowdown: Diversity reigns at Lion Forge

Also: Who is the writer of Death Note? Victoria Jamieson, drawing and depression, big list o’ cons this weekend and more!

Diversity in All Things, Including Diversity: Lion Forge senior editor Joe Illidge talks about Catalyst Prime, his company’s new superhero universe that emphasizes diversity in its characters and creators:

“We don’t always want to do straight lines, because in a weird way that segregates talent,” Illidge said. “That only says, well if you’re black, you can only write black characters or if you’re a woman you can only write a female character. We want to show that we can expand beyond that.”

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Comics Lowdown: Stan Lee immortalized at the TCL Chinese Theatre

Plus: Batton Lash vs. Cancer, Donny Cates signs with Marvel, DC Girl Power, Texas Latino Comic Con and more!

Hollywood cannot seem to get enough of Stan Lee. Over the weekend, Lee became a Disney Legend and yesterday, the comic icon had his hands and feet immortalized in cement in front of the TCL Chinese theater.

“I can’t tell you what this means to me. I’m thrilled,” he said. “And if I’m half as good as everybody said I am, I’m far too good to be wasting time with ordinary people. But I seem to be spending my life with ordinary people, who are the best people in the world.”

Meanwhile, Variety continued the love affair and took a look back on the life of Stan Lee.
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