UPDATE: Last night Oni Press released a statement via Twitter:
With wildly sensationalistic rumors circulating and false information spreading, we’d like to reiterate that recent personnel changes at Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group were made with the sole purpose of evolving the company and brand, and positioning it for long-term success.
We’re proud of our long history in the business and continually strive to be better and do better. We started Lion Forge Comics 11 years ago specifically to make great creator driven content, and Oni’s history is 25 years in the business. Within a new framework that is being worked on now, we remain committed to publishing groundbreaking content, embracing pioneering creators, and advancing authentic diversity and inclusion. We see an incredibly exciting future not just for the company but for our fans and content consumers worldwide.
The statement was soon ratio’d (more replies and quote tweets than likes) and it is safe to say it received a social media drubbing from the comics community rarely seen, citing its tone deaf approach to laying off popular industry figrues, lack of the word “comics” and the awkward phrase “content consumers.”
We have reached out to Oni Press for a contact to attempt to address the ongoing situation there, and the reported false information.
ORIGINAL STORY: The purge at Oni Lion Forge Publishing Group continues. Confirmed by Graeme McMillan at Popverse and via Twitter, Oni has laid off some of the most prominent members of its staff, including senior VP of sales and marketing Alex Segura, sales manager Henry Barajas, and senior editor Amanda Meadows. Editor Jasmine Amiri was also laid off, as confirmed on Twitter.
It’s unknown if there are more layoffs or who is running the company since the top two figures at Oni, James Lucas Jones and Charlie Chu, were laid off two weeks ago.
It’s the biggest public bloodbath in comics since DC Comics’ layoffs last year.
With no forward looking statements regarding who is left to run Oni or what the plans for the company are there is only speculation left. Everyone – even former Oni employees – seem to be in the dark about what is going on.
Or as one told me, bluntly, “It’s really bad.”
It’s bad in many ways: good people being out of work; Oni having been poised to celebrate its 25th Anniversary and instead being gutted by layoffs; and the timing before San Diego Comic-Con where this is guaranteed to be Topic A at every party and Barcon.
There is one tiny ray of hope: while the fate and future of other Oni employees is unknown, it’s almost as if the most employable people were let go. Segura, Barajas, Meadows and Amiri are all immensely talented and popular industry figures and will be massive assets to anyone lucky enough to hire them.
As for the future of Oni Lion Forge Publishing Group? A potential sale seems to be the only logical reason for stripping down the company for parts. Most of its most prominent books – Scott Pilgrim, Gender Queer, Tea Dragon Society, Sheets, Upgrade Soul – are creator owned, and most of the creators have good agents – whether these contracts can just be handed over to new owners is not a given. The Rick and Morty license is another asset, but not necessarily one that can be transferred.
Developing. We’ll update the story as more emerges about layoffs and Oni’s future.
Disclosure: The Beat was owned by Polarity, parent company of Oni Lion Forge Publishing Group from 2017 to 2020.