Quick Hits | Behind the scenes at Oni Press

Plus: News on Ron Zimmerman, Paul Coker Jr., Frederik L. Schodt, Ed Brubaker and more.

Publishers | Although it might be hard to believe that there’s anyone left at the Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Company to speak anonymously at this point, Popverse has an interview up with one such staffer, who gives more details on what’s been going on behind the scenes — and offers some context about that not-at-all-thought-out statement that was released on social media. The statement, the anonymous source says, came from parent company Polarity. “They thought it was so good. They did not listen to anyone who told them it was not, and then we reaped the whirlwind of their failure, like pretty much every week this month.”

This unsurprising account by the anonymous staffer follows several rounds of layoffs and departures from the Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Company. Associate publisher Michelle Nguyen left the company voluntarily, following the layoffs of James Lucas Jones, Charlie Chu, Alex Segura, Amanda Meadows, Jasmini Amiri and Henry Barajas in July.

Publishers | Both The Beat and Popverse have reported that webcomics platform Tapas Media has laid off several staff in what’s being described as both a consolidation with sister companies Radish and Wuxiaworld, as well as a shift toward more user-generated content. Bleeding Cool reports that Tapas Media Chief Creative Officer Michele Wells is one of the people impacted by the layoffs. All three companies are owned by Kakao Entertainment, which acquired them in 2021.

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Quick Hits | 2021 comic sales topped $2 billion

Last year was the best year ever for comic sales, according to a new report. Plus: News on Oni/Lion Forge, Substack, Zestworld, Henry Barajas, Kieron Gillen and more.

Comics sales | Milton Griepp of ICV2.com and John Jackson Miller of Comichron.com have released their annual assessment of the comics and graphic novel market for last year, noting that sales grew 62% in 2021 over the prior year in the U.S. and Canada to approximately $2.075 billion. They were also up 70% when compared to pre-pandemic 2019.

“Publishers made more selling comics content than in any year in the history of the business, even when adjusted for inflation,” Miller said of the 2021 estimates. “The biggest year in the modern era, 1993, saw sales of around $1.6 billion in 2021 dollars — and the pricier product mix puts 2021 ahead of what the colossal circulations of the early 1950s brought in, also adjusted for inflation.”

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Oni Press announces ‘Silk Hills’ by Ferrier, Level + Sherron

The new graphic novel about missing persons and the Mothman legend will arrive next summer.

Oni Press will publish Silk Hills, an Appalachian horror graphic novel that plays off the legend of the Mothman by Ryan Ferrier, Brian Level, Kate Sherron and Crank!, next summer.

The graphic novel will tell the story of Beth Wills, who comes to the town of Silk Hills to find someone who doesn’t want to be found. Her search for a missing troubled youth finds her running afoul of the local drug trade, too-friendly creepers, a very sinister deer and psychoactive moth dust.

“Silk Hills was another chance to work with collaborators I adore and who, in turn, have faith in me when I say ‘Okay, but I wanna try something a little weird here,’” Sherron said. “I prefer to tell dark tales in colorful ways, especially when there’s light and life to dig out from beneath burnt-black story-skin, and bless the boys for supporting such choices from the outset.”

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Paige Braddock receives the Mississippi Author Award

The author was honored for her essential collection of her long-running ‘Jane’s World’ comic strip, which wrapped up in 2018.

The Mississippi Library Association has awarded Jane’s World creator Paige Braddock with its Mississippi Authors Award for 2021, in the fiction category.

The award as presented to Braddock for the graphic novel collection Love Letters to Jane’s World, which was published by Oni Press. It collects “the most quintessentially Jane storylines from the strip’s early, middle and later years, and pairs them with ‘love letters’ and notes of appreciation from notable fans.”

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Smash Pages Q&A: François Vigneault on ‘Orcs in Space’

The creator of ‘Titan’ discusses his newest collaboration with Abed and Rashad Gheith, Justin Roiland and Michael Tanner, which arrives in stores from Oni Press this week.

Orcs in Space is a new ongoing comics series from Oni Press, starring three orcs who happen upon an advanced space craft, and chaos and hilarity ensues.

The comic is drawn by François Vigneault, who is best know for his comics like Titan, and he said working on a book with a different tone and approach from his own work was part of the appeal. We spoke recently about playing with the idea of orcs, expectations and color.

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Sarah Gaydos and Oni Press Lion Forge ‘part ways’

James Lucas Jones will step back into the editor-in-chief role as Oni looks for a replacement.

Oni Press Lion Forge Publishing Group editor-in-chief Sarah Gaydos has left the company, according to a post on Oni Press’ Twitter feed.

The tweet says that Gaydos and Oni have “mutually agreed to part ways, effective immediately. We would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to Sarah for her time, passion, energy, and work during her tenure as Editor in Chief and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”

“I’d like to take a minute to thank the entire Oni team, as well as the many incredible creators I had the pleasure of working with,” Gaydos said in the statement. “I’m grateful for the opportunity, and I look forward to what’s next.”

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Mail Call | DC in May brings Star Girl and more

A round-up of news from DC, Marvel, Oni Press and more.

Mail Call is a roundup of the announcements we’ve received from comics publishers in our mailboxes recently that we haven’t already covered. Hit the links for more information.

DC Comics released their May solicitations on Friday, and with them came several announcements and reveals throughout the week. In addition to the new Wonder Girl, Mister Miracle and Future State: Gotham projects, DC announced they will release two interesting one-shots — the first being Star Girl one-shot, featuring not only the star of the hit CW show, but also the Seven Soldiers of Victory. It’s by the character’s co-creator, Geoff Johns, and artist Todd Nauck.

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Smash Pages Q&A: François Vigneault

The cartoonist and designer discusses his ambitious graphic novel ‘Titan,’ the comics scene in Montreal and much more.

François Vigneault is a cartoonist and designer living in Montreal and the person behind the new book Titan, which is out this week from Oni Press. People might know Vigneault from the many things he’s done in comics over the years ranging from editing the anthology Elfworld, co-founding the Linework NW Festival, the artist of the graphic novel 13e Avenue, and one of the artists on the recently published Cayrels Ring, among many other projects. 

Titan is his best work to date, but also his most ambitious. The story of João da Silva, who arrives on the moon Titan to oversee roughly 500 Terran colonists and 50,000 Titans, oversize workers genetically modified for the moon’s conditions. What follows is a labor strike, a political battle, a shooting war. It’s also a romance comic about falling for someone at the worst possible moment. Vigneault manages to balance crafting a believable futuristic background while foregrounding a tender, unexpected love story, and the brutality of the unrest in ways that are moving and thoughtful.

We’ve met a few times over the years at different comics events and I was thrilled to get the chance to talk with him about the book, serialization and the comics scene in Montreal.

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Chris Schweizer shares an unfinished ‘Crogan’s Escape’

The Crogan Adventures creator posts a PDF version of the fourth book to his Patreon, saying it’ll never be finished.

Chris Schweizer, creator of the Crogan Adventures series of graphic novels that were published by Oni Press, has shared an unfinished version of a planned fourth volume on his Patreon.

“It’s not finished, and it’s not going to be finished, but I thought that I would put together a digital book sharing what I have: a finished version of an unfinished book,” Schweizer wrote about Crogan’s Escape. “It’s got (almost) finished pages, pencils, roughs and synopses, enough to get a sense of the overall book, as well as a few design bits and an introduction to contextualize the whole thing.”

Crogan’s Escape would have followed Crogan’s Vengeance, Crogan’s March and Crogan’s Loyalty, which were published between 2008 and 2012. Each volume focused on a different member of the Crogan family tree — which is filled with pirates, legionnaires, gunfighters, private eyes, flying aces, lion tamers and more. The first volume starred “Catfoot” Crogan, a sailor turned pirate, while this unfinished fourth volume starred Daniel Crogan and is set in 1920s China.

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Can’t Wait for Comics | Going ‘MAD’ on a ‘Rogue Planet’

Marvel returns to comic shops this week, as some DC books are delayed.

Another week brings more comics back to comic shops, as this week Marvel will have new print comics in comic shops for the first time in weeks. A couple DC books, however, look like they’re delayed this week, including Flash and Aquaman. Stores getting their books from DC’s other distributors have been asked to not put them on sale yet, according to the report from Newsarama.

If you’re looking for some recommendations on what you should get, here are some thoughts from the Smash Pages crew. You can check the Comic List page to see what’s arriving in your local shop, and the comiXology new releases page for what’s available digitally.

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Sebela + Sears conjure ‘Dead Dudes’ this fall

Oni Press will publish the graphic novel in September.

It’s always great when a project gets announced that seems to pull together several of your favorite creators who you might not have ever pictured working together. That’s what Oni Press has done with Dead Dudes, a new graphic novel by Christopher Sebela, Ben Sears, Warren Wucinich and Ryan Hill.

It’s about the hosts of a ghost-hunting reality show who end up becoming ghosts themselves.

“Getting to work with Ben was a bucket list item and I can happily cross it off now,” Sebela said on Twitter. “No idea why he bothered to work with me when he’s an amazing storyteller on his own, but I don’t look gift dreams in the mouth.”

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Oni Press, DC, Binc unite to announce new fund for comics retailers

The Comicbook United Fund will provide one location to make contributions to support comic book shops and their employees.

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation, or Binc, has announced the launch of the Comicbook United Fund, a dedicated relief fund designed to provide financial assistance to comic shops and their employees. Both DC Comics and the Oni Press-Lion Forge Publishing Group joined them in the announcement, with both offering funds to the organization.

The idea isn’t new — last year, the Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group ​teamed with Binc to create the “Forge Fund.” It provides ​monetary support for comic retailers and their employees during times of hardship, like during Hurricane Harvey. The company continues to donate 5% of proceeds from their titles to the fund, and so far have donated $100,000 to the Forge Fund, which is operated by Binc

“The comic industry has a long history of banding together to protect and promote the art form we all love. We hope that this incredible action from DC will inspire a new wave of generosity and support for the great number of individuals and shops struggling through these times,” said James Lucas Jones, President and Publisher of Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group. “Comics is an expansive community that still feels like a close-knit family, and these efforts feel like we are helping family members.”

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