WonderCon '09 - Oni Press Panel

Oni Partners with 60 Frames

 Oni Press took to the panels early in the schedule, presenting their information and news on Friday afternoon. Those on the panel included Oni Editor (and regular Blog@ contributor) Randall Jarrell and Cory Casoni, Director of Marketing

Jarrell began by reiterating something begun by former Editor Jamie S. Rich, Open challenge to Joe Quesada or Dan DiDio to a boxing match. “They’ve never done it, but if they would, we’d have a thousand Marvel and DC fans coming by to check it out, and they’d end up hearing about Oni,” Jarrell said.

“They’re big guys, but I’m fast,” Jarrell added, “and I think I can run away really fast.”

Jarrell began the proper panel with a quick history less of Oni, which was founded in 1997 by Bob Schrek and Joe Nozemack. Oni is a very story-driven company, Jarrell said, noting that they don’t do events or stunts, although, they recently published a book with a holofoil cover, and the holofoil was very hard to find.

Casoni began with a slide of Northworld volume 2 by Lars Brown, which was just released. “It’s meets ,” Casoni said. “Seriously.” Volume 3 will be a collage of stories that take place within the Northworld Universe.

Coutrney Crumrin’s Monstrous Holiday by Ted Naifeh was then mentioned as coming up next month, which collects Courtney Crumrin and the Fire Thief’s Tale and Courtney Crumrin and the Prince of Nowhere. Wasteland was then cited as the longest running series for Oni, with issue #25 (due in March) being a double-sized painted issue by Christopher Midden. The issue is designed as a natural break in the story, and a great place for new readers to jump on. Only issue #25 will be in color, and the series will return to its normal black and white with issue #26.

Festering Romance - a romantic comedy written by Jamie Rich is about a couple that has ghosts in their pasts that interfere with their romances. “It’s not metaphorical,” Jarrell said. “It’s a really funny, college age comedy.” The book will run 168 pages and be out in July.

Marc Guggenheim’s Resurrection will have a large rollout coming up as the original six issue series gets collected into a trade with a $6.00 cover due in stores on April 29th; followed by Resurrection #0, the start of the second volume of the series, as Oni’s offering for Free Comic Book Day (the following Saturday). The second volume of the series will be drawn by newcomer Justin Greenwood. Casoni offered up a summary of the series by saying, “It literally picks up the day after ends.”

“But it wasn’t actually ,” Jarrell added, quickly.

Resurrection vol 2 #1, the first issue of the new ongoing series will then ship in June.

The panel then opened for Q&A.

Why relaunch Resurrection with a volume 2? Two reasons Casoni said: one is that they went full color, and two is that volume 2 issue #1 starts at the same place as volume 1 #1, but follows a different group of people. “We’re not going to lose the main characters that have been introduced, but Marc wants to tell some other stories as things move on, Casoni said.

Jarrell added that the relaunch corresponds to the new artist, the new format, and the new story. The series has been picked up by Universal for feature film development.

Asked how much more Courtney Crumrin will be coming from Naifeh, the two outlined that another Portrait of a Warlock as a Young Man is coming, to be followed by two more Courtney stories. In total, there will be seven volumes by Naifeh, probably one every 18 months or two years, depending on his schedule. Of which, Casoni said that Naifeh is very popular in France, and is frequently working there on various projects. This led to Jarrell noting that if anyone ever had the chance to get a French version of Courtney Crumrin or Polly and the Pirates, they should grab it, given the amazing production values.

“Then why don’t you guys publish them in the larger format?” Jarrell was then asked by an audience member.

“The digest size Courtney simply sell better,” Jarrell said, noting that they moved to that format at the urging of librarians and the book trade, and quickly saw sales tick up as a result.

Speaking of Scott Pilgrim, Casoni said that Bryan Lee O’Malley was adamant that both the first printing of volume 5 be something special for fans (this was the holofoil cover mentioned earlier) and that the cost of that cover be passed on to the readers, resulting in no increase in price.

Scott Pilgrim volume 6 will be out by the time the movie hits theaters. The movie, Jarrell explained, will encompass the entire series, rather than just the first book. The first volume, Jarrell said, pretty much makes up the first 20 minutes of the film.

Speaking about Oni picking up the Northworld, Jarrell said the decision was a simple one – that Lars Brown was already doing the webcomic, was a fan of Oni books, and asked if they wanted to print it. What attracted Oni to the book was the fact that Lars has such a unique and independent voice, which is something that Oni prides itself in publishing.

Jen Van Meter is currently writing a new graphic novel for the series which will be a 2011 release. Oni hopes to collect all of the previous releases in an omnibus format.

The book that Oni has printed the most copies of? “The prequel,” Jarrell said. “There were 180,000 copies or so that were bundled with the DVD.” Greg Rucka’s work was cited as another group of books that do well for Oni, as do the Wet Moon series of graphic novel, and of course, Scott Pilgrim, whose sales, Jarrell said, keep going up exponentially.

Due to how the comic was constructed, Amazon was able to sell copies of Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jansen #1, which sold more copies of the issue by far than the direct market, Jarrell said. Tek Jansen he added, was the first comic book that Amazon.com carried. Virtually Oni’s entire library is offered through Amazon, Jarrell said, which has created a new group of readers that look to Amazon for the next release in a series, such as Scott Pilgrim. Oni still supports and wants to see its product move through the direct market, but Jarrell noted it’s interesting to see an audience for Oni developing at Amazon.

Queen and Country has essentially stopped, Jarrell said. Greg Rucka plans to restart it further along the timeline in comics, and when it’s relaunched it will be as a full color series with a new #1. Rucka’s currently working on a third Whiteout installment, and has a private investigator series called Stumptown coming out “somewhere near the end of this year, or the beginning of next,” Jarrell said.

Speaking to Oni’s shift to color books, Jarrell said that the industry is moving away from monthly black and white periodicals. While Oni will have black and white original black and white graphic novels in the future, any new series will be in color.

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