Celebrating its 15th year, Oni Press, perhaps best known for publishing theÂ Scott Pilgrim and Queen & Country graphic novel series, has a score of plans that will reflect the indie houseâ€™s evolution as well as changes in book publishing. In exclusive interviews withÂ PW Comics World, Oni Press CEO Joe Nozemack and editor-in-chief James Lucas Jones discussed the companyâ€™s plans for 2012, including its new logo, editorial calendar and forthcoming TV and film projects.
For starters, the company is publishing at least two periodicals monthly, and at least 25 graphic novels in 2012. On the periodical side, debuting in comic shops March 14 is Brian Churillaâ€™sÂ The Secret History of D.B. Cooper; Free Comic Book Day, May 5, sees the release ofÂ Bad Medicine, a twist on medical procedural dramas; and later this year sees the return of Greg Rucka and Matt Southworthâ€™s crime dramaStumptown. On the book side, new releases this year include the original graphic novelÂ Coldest City, a spy thriller created by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart; Ross Campbell’s young-adult, goth-themed graphic novelÂ Wet Moon Vol. 6, and two trade paperbacks of Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurt’s Western-fantasyÂ The Sixth Gun, dubbed the company’s best-selling, ongoing series.
â€œFor us, it’s finding formats that are going to suit the material in the best way possible,â€ Jones said. â€œDoing all of the production, lettering, and coloring … it’s hard to do those on projects that have such a long tail. The floppy situation allows us to amortize some of our costs, particularly on coloring.â€
Jones also said the companyâ€™s editorial calendar has changed drastically in recent years. What was once a run-and-gun process â€“ getting works in mail, editing them, and shipping finals off to a printer in a matter of weeks â€“ is now much more controlled. Jones said the calendar is already booked through fall 2013. â€œNow, we have more time to do book design, promotions and operations. We have a couple of graphic novels wholly in house and we haven’t even announced them yet. But at the end of the day, it’s much better for the books and for our stress levels.
From March forward, Oni Press comics will feature the companyâ€™sÂ new logo, a departure from its original logo resembling an Oni demon from Japanese folklore. Designed by art director Keith A. Wood, the new one is a super-imposed graphic accented by the company name and the tagline â€œRevolutionize Comics.â€ â€œI think the company weâ€™ve becomeâ€”and the way the media and the outlets have goneâ€”called for change in the logo,â€ Nozemack said. The original logo was created by acclaimedÂ WatchmenÂ artist Dave Gibbons.
Though Oni has more than 150 titles in print (at any given time, they said) and some big initiatives underway, itâ€™s still a small company, with eight full-time staffers and two part-timers working with a number of freelancers. Jones took an assistant editor position in 2000, joining Nozemack and then editor-in-chief Jamie S. Rich. â€œWhen I started, it was just three of us,â€ Jones said, â€œWe were in a 500-square foot space, and it was literally a one-room office that we sat in and threw insults at each other.â€
Nozemack said the company has been growing slowly, â€œbut I think you see some companies that enter the market and grow too fast, and they then canâ€™t maintain the machine theyâ€™ve created. Weâ€™ve always been cautious of that.â€
While Nozemack wouldnâ€™t speak to sale numbers in the last 15 years, he offered, â€œYou hope that, as years go on, you learn what works and how to address each outlet you have. And as you get better at that, you look for new outlets to grow the readership. The issue with comics now is, with all the digital devices out there, we have a larger audience, so how do we get them to want comics content, and how do we get them to pay for it?â€
â€œWe take chances on stuff if we believe in it and even if thereâ€™s only a specialty audience for it,â€ Nozemack said of Oniâ€™s catalog. â€œYou donâ€™t look at something and say, â€˜Great book, but it doesnâ€™t make a movie so letâ€™s not publish it.â€™â€