"Waiting For The Inevitable NFT" – Comics Industry Reacts To Oni Press

Oni Press, the comic book publisher of 25 years standing, that was merged with Lion Forge under the umbrella of the new Polarity company a few years ago, issued the following statement yesterday. It has garnered quite the reaction from the comic book industry. To the extent that I am expecting T-shirts of it for San Diego Comic-Con and I have bveen told to expect where the Oni Press panels were meant to be held, a wake tio the memory of what Oni Press once was.

Oni Press Issue Statement About Firings Not Written By Anyone At Oni

It is unclear who crafted the statement, as  Director Of Publicity Tara Lehmann, Senior VP Marketing Alex Segura or even Marketing Manager Henry Barajas, are all no longer with Oni Press. But here is the reaction from many a comic creator and publisher. Beginning with the response from Nat Gertler, publisher of About Comics.

Nat Gertler: About Comics confronts the current controversies.

"Waiting For The Inevitable NFT - Comic Folk React To Oni Press

Rachel Reed: hoo wee, as someone who used to run PR at Oni, I am so glad I never had to post anything like this. This is a BIG YIKES statement. Idk how they didn't realize that this statement affirms that their "brand" is more important than their employees.

Ben Towle: Here's a word that appears zero times in that Oni press release: "comics".

Alex de Campi: Hi there. If you have a book in progress coming out from Oni, I would strongly recommend contacting them and offering to buy the book back (if there was an advance) or pulling the book (if not). Please take a look at the reversion / bankruptcy clauses in your publishing contract; speak to a lawyer if you have one. Reversions on non-publication often take years to come into effect, and bankruptcy… well, they could sell an IP package for cents on the dollar, your book included. I'm being pragmatic when I say the fastest way to keep your book moving is to buy it back, as with companies not paying invoices due to lack of cash flow, it's the first and the loudest who get sorted out. Do NOT sit back and wait, it will NOT be okay. This isn't shade on Oni! Comic book publishing companies fail a LOT. Those of us in the biz for a long time all have at least 1-2 projects that went down with the ship. After a while you learn to see the signs. I'm sorry to see Oni hit the skids, and for the job losses it involves, same ad I was sorry about all the PoC editors and staff that got laid off when they acquired Lion Forge. The company published a lot of great titles. But friends: get your work in progress back NOW. Two well-respected graphic novel literary agents, @swindlesoiree and @draper_claire, have offered to accept submissions from unagented Oni creators / assist Oni creators dealing with the fallout (even though they're both closed to regular subs atm). Desiree used to work for Oni

Renfamous: That oni statement has big "please stop yelling at my IP farm" energy

Becky Cloonan: This Oni news is such a disaster. Too many passionate, talented folks unceremoniously let go– hoping everyone lands on their feet. And all the creators with books there, I know the stress and misery of having a graphic novel stuck in limbo. My thoughts are with you.

Janjan: I love reading and making contents

Ben Coleman: In terms of brick and mortar space the Oni offices are about as big as a McDonald's franchise. When you fire that many people from a small organization what you have left of the "25 years in the business" is the office supplies

Jennifer de Guzman: "Long history" when they got rid of all the people with actual long histories in comics. -"Evolving" into what? -"A new framework that is being worked on now"? Shouldn't that have been fully worked out before they started laying people off? -"content consumers"?

Christian Hoffer: If only Oni Press had a marketing person who could have looked this statement over and said what a bad idea it was. Oh well, that's what happens when you fire those kinds of professionals.

Jim Ousley: Curious what "sensationalistic rumors" means in this context, because many talented people were given the heave-ho and had their careers upended. Also – fans and "content consumers"? I feel like this was written by a Dalek. #onipress

Antony Johnston: Big "Oni Press remains a publisher in our line-up" energy

Ashanti Fortson: Every single exec, decision-maker, and "leader" at Oni-Lion Forge should be deeply embarrassed by: – their heinous treatment of their employees, now & in years prior – their transparent pursuit of comics as IP farms – every drop of utter foolishness dripping from this statement

Jerry Bennett: I'm so happy to be with a publisher like @literatipress that does NOT refer to its readers as 'content consumers.' #comics

Ron Cacace: Adding to everything else people have said about this statement tonight: if you took out "Lion Forge Comics" from this text, it doesn't mention "comics" or "readers" anywhere. That should tell you a lot.

Zack Davisson: "How Not to Write a Press Release." R.I.P. @OniPress

Jason Copland: Uuuuuugh. So proud of "their" long history that they gave everyone that had a hand in writing that history the ax. And if only they could have got one more "content" in that tweet.

Scott Kurtz: Because, what says "committed" more than laying off everyone and pulling out of San Diego Comicon?

Tony Lee: Gutted to hear about the people at Oni. Hoping people find new gigs. This whole LF / Oni thing seems to have been cursed from the start. And currently, ARMY OF ONE, a three book GN series by me / @superliyishan / @BryanValenza for Lion Forge / Oni (and fully completed) is STILL without a date…

Luke Ridge: This is awful. The idea that to evolve a company you need to abruptly fire staff is baffling to me. This stinks of a parent company not understanding the industry and knee-jerking their way through it. I hope everyone involved finds a new home soon. #onipress

Gary Thompson: In another life I worked for years in PR. I literally wrote a book on how to write press releases. It doesn't take an expert to know this is a terrible PR move, but in case you need some professional assurance: This blows chunks. I would've used this as example of what not to do.

Jordan Alsaqa: This statement is evidence of corporate management that feels certain no matter what they do, there will always be a new crop of desperate creators to exploit, and it's rotten.

Erik Thurman: So did you or did you not fire your senior staff? Because reporting and personal accounts show that you did and which follows a similar pattern of when you fired diverse staff in the past. Let it be known — Oni Press is not a place that will guarantee you long-term employment.

Ben Coleman: In terms of brick and mortar space the Oni offices are about as big as a McDonald's franchise. When you fire that many people from a small organization what you have left of the "25 years in the business" is the office supplies

Shannon Benjamin: It's so rife with nonsense corporate speak that it makes me nauseous. I was a bookseller for a big chain book retailers for about a decade and this is how they would sound when they wanted you to be excited about being treated like sh-t.

Ben Coleman: That's the language they use, yep. And what's scary is that I'm sure it all makes perfect sense to them, it's the sea they swim in

Shannon Benjamin: "We need to touch base,loop everyone into the new cross training program so that we're optimizing our full interconenctive potential , because our team is family!" Translation "we are requiring you to take on an intense amount of new responsibility with no monetary compensation"

Heather Antos: Pretty apparent one of the layoffs was your PR team…

Daniel Barnes: waiting for the inevitable NFT announcement literally all this is missing… see, here's the thing, they did this sh-t to @swindlesoiree
, our editor for The Black Mage, back in 2019, and just tried to sweep them under the rug now they're doing it to everyone else

Samantha Ferreira: Yet another example of why we need unions in this industry, yesterday.

Sean T. Collins: f-ck this company and f-ck this bullsh-t and pray for the poor soul forced to post it

BrianKeene: My first reaction is that the person in charge of writing press releases is among the employees @OniPress
laid off. My second reaction is if you have a book at Oni, check your contract and revert those rights back to you ASAP. We've all seen countless times how this story ends.

Allison Baker: Oni folding is a systemic issue in the industry that should be addressed. Unfortunately, I'm not sure the stewards left truly understand the long term implications. Please prove me wrong.

Evan Dorkin: Hope everyone affected by Lion Forge's gutting and dismemberment of Oni is able to stick landings elsewhere, take their comics and creations elsewhere, and breathe easier asap away from the stink of the corpse. A shame, all-around, inc the shameful PR dump afterwards. #OniDepress

Ibrahim Moustafa: If there's ONE comics readership that supports creators/their stories over "brands" and "content", it's Oni readers. There's no Batman/Spider-Man to inspire cont'd "consumer" loyalty despite a move like this. We see this so often w $ people who want to get into "the comics space"

Charles Soule: Bummed about all the layoffs at Oni – that company helped me build my career with LETTER 44. It was a special place. I hope everyone affected lands on their feet quickly.

Van Jensen: I have many friends who've dedicated a lot of themselves to Oni Press and who have lost their jobs. You're all amazing, and I hope you know how appreciated you are…and that you land somewhere that deserves you.

Oni Press Reaction

Steve Lieber: As a pioneering creator of creator-driven content, I want to let the fans and content-consumers worldwide know that I too remain committed to your consumption of ground-breaking content. This is definitely how human beings communicate ideas and emotions.

David Macho: The massacre happening at Oni Press while you read these lines is utterly disgusting. It's a betrayal to the art of comics, to the people, editors, creators, et al., working their butts off to create quality stories, art, groundbreaking material we all love.
SHOW YOUR SUPPORT.

Jonah Weiland: I've watched Lion Forge repeatedly spend money poorly, mismanage and not deliver. This is heartbreaking, but not surprising. I believe they're well meaning, but the proof is in the lack of results.
Oni was a really important independent publisher and I'm so sorry to see this happen. Hopefully someone with some money could rescue this brand and bring it back to its former glory.

Mark Waid: If you're a creator doing anything with Oni Press, my advice for you would be to *get out now.* If your book is in their pipeline, check your contracts to see if it's possible to terminate them and what that would take.
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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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