Just earlier this week, we were asking: What's next for Oni Press? Well, in a major shake-up for the industry (and Bleeding Cool Power List if I ever do another one), Oni Press/Lion Forge has just named comics publishing veteran Hunter Gorinson to the role of President & Publisher, putting the former Boom!, Valiant and Bad Idea Comics executive at the helm of one of indie comics' most influential and longstanding publishing houses.
Per today's announcement, Gorinson will lead all divisions of Portland, Oregon-based Oni Press – including editorial, marketing, operations, and sales – effective immediately. As the new head of Oni's publishing output in "the direct market, book, digital, and e-commerce channels," Oni's PR states that Gorinson will be tasked with "building upon its decades-long relationships with some of the comic medium's most noted creators; identifying new creative voices and partnerships; and expanding the Oni-Lion Forge brand through new collaborative ventures rooted in the storytelling power of the comic book medium."
Back in 2018, we called Gorinson one of the industry's "smartest and most highly valued" publishing vets when he departed Valiant Entertainment after a years-long stint heading the company's marketing and PR, following its multimillion dollar acquisition by Chinese media conglomerate DMG.
He subsequently joined Hivemind, producers of Netflix's The Witcher and Amazon's The Expanse, where he served as SVP Brand & Content Strategy and worked on producing adaptations of high-profile comics properties, like Jeff Lemire & Andrea Sorrentino's Gideon Falls, EC Comics' Weird Fantasy series, and Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! Trilogy novels.
He then went on to co-found the production company Allnighter, which worked on bringing Justin Jordan & Tradd Moore's The Strange Talent of Luther Strode to the big screen, as well as a TV adaptation of the hit WEBTOON series Let's Play.
Gorinson was also an early driving force behind experimental publisher Bad Idea and its stable of titles by Matt Kindt, Lewis LaRosa, Robert Venditti, David Lapham, and more, where he served as Publisher, prior to joining Boom Studios to lead the company's business development division in 2021.
Gorinson's tenure at BOOM! saw him oversee a plethora of new initiatives for the industry's second largest independent publisher, including last summer's collaboration between streetwear company BAIT and Keanu Reeves' #1 best-selling BRZRKR series, as well as an ambitious slate of Kickstarter-driven, deluxe pre-order initiatives for series like Mark Waid & Peter Krause's Irredeemable, John Allison & Max Sarin's Giant Days, Grant Morrison & Dan Mora's Klaus, and more.
Founded in 1997, Oni has produced some of the biggest indie comics hits of the past two decades with series like Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim and its long-running series of Ricky & Morty licensed comics, among many more. The company merged with Lion Forge Comics in 2019, creating the Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group, a subsidiary of Lion Forge founder David Steward II's media company, Polarity, and taking on the most-banned book in the United States Of America in recent years, Gender Queer.
Says Steward on Gorinson's new role, "From our earliest conversations, it was clear that Hunter was the ideal leader to shape the future of the Oni-Lion Forge brand. With a deep understanding of both the art and business of comics, Hunter knows how to build collaborative environments that foster creativity between creators and colleagues alike, and shape content that will resonate with fans around the world. He has a robust vision for solidifying Oni–Lion Forge's reach with creators, readers, and retailers in the direct and book markets, while simultaneously extending the wide breadth of our library even further with strategic partnerships that will showcase the best of Oni-Lion Forge, present and future."
Gorinson's appointment comes at the end of a transitional period for the publisher, which saw several key employees leave the company in the spring followed by the company parting ways with publisher James Lucas Jones and entertainment VP Charlie Chu last summer. There have also been serious concerns about unpaid comic book creators, with some questioning the fees being added to recent royalty payments.
Also, since June, Oni-Lion Forge has been aggressively fighting an obscenity lawsuit in tandem with the ACLU, CBLDF, and Barnes & Noble in the state of Virginia over the publication of Gender Queer – Lion Forge Comic's ALA Award-winning graphic memoir by cartoonist Maia Kobabe that has been the subject of many attempted library bans by conservative legislators and school boards. Oni-Lion Forge recently emerged victorious in that suit, and, in the meantime, the publisher recently issued a new deluxe edition of Gender Queer in hardcover, which continues to sit high on bestseller lists at Amazon and other booksellers.
Hunter Gorinson is certainly an inspired choice for the top job at Oni, but he has a lot of work to do. We'll be following what comes next closely in the weeks to come.