The Beat has learned that Oni Lion Forge Publishing Group will not be setting up a booth at San Diego Comic-Con as had been previously planned.
A spokesperson for OLFPG confirmed their non-attendance and attributed it to “a reduction in on-site staff.” However they will still be promoting Oni at SDCC via programming. “While we will not have a booth space, we will have a number of panels promoting our upcoming titles and staff on site to participate in the show.”
They also confirmed that they will return to their booth space in 2023.
The move comes two weeks after publisher James Lucas Jones and vp Charlie Chu were removed from the company under still unexplained circumstances. No replacements have been named, and questions over the future direction of the company will only increase with this move – though obviously, the booth would have provided a convenient nexus for inquiries.
The timing of all of this is especially awkward since Oni was celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, with a series of deluxe reprints of key Oni books like Whiteout by Greg Rucka and Steve Leiber (one of the first indie comics to be adapted into a movie and a cracking good book in its own right) and their best selling Rick and Morty comics.
In fact ONi had two panels planned to celebrate the 25th Anniversary – both to be lad by Jones and Chu.
Party Like It’s 1997: Comic Talent Celebrate Oni’s 25th AnniversarySaturday, July 23, 202212:00 PM – 1:00 PMRoom 28DE
James Lucas Jones (Oni Press publisher), Charlie Chu (Oni Press VP of creative and business development), comic creator Ezra Claytan Daniels (Upgrade Soul), and moderator Jazzlyn Stone come together to celebrate 25 years of Oni Press, reminiscing about their favorite (and craziest) company moments and working in the comics industry.25 Years of Oni Press: Classic to ModernSunday, July 24, 202211:30 AM – 12:30 PMRoom 23ABC
James Lucas Jones (Oni Press publisher) and Charlie Chu (Oni Press VP of creative and business development) join comic experts and a special guest to celebrate the 25th anniversary and discuss the publisher’s legacy from comics to graphic novels, from licensed to creator-owned, from Scott Pilgrim to The Tea Dragon Society, and more.
Oni was founded in 1997 by former Dark Horse editor Bob Schreck and business partner Joe Nozemack. Schreck left in 1999, leaving the company owned by Nozemack, Lucas and Chu. In 2019, Oni merged with Lion Forge, with Nozemack leaving the company.
Over its history, Oni is probably best known for publishing books with strong college age appeal like the Scott Pilgrim books, The Tea Dragon Society and licensed titles like Rick and Morty. They are also known for publishing notable queer-themed books, like the Easy Guide series, and Lion Forge pick up Gender Queer. The latter book – detailing Kobabe’s journey of self awareness to a non-binary identity – has become a lightning rod for controversy over the past year, but a deluxe edition was just published and creator Maia Kobabe just released this lovely poster affirming eir journey.
While Oni’s short term situation remains puzzling, the news that they’ll be back in 2023 is heartening.
More to come.