FOR TOMMY: JAMIE RICH
Do you ever feel like you're a free research and development
department for Marvel, DC and Image? You put out great work
by these fellows and then suddenly, whoosh, they're grabbed
from your still-twitching claws. I'm sure, like every mother,
you're proud to see them fly the nest, but you know, couldn't
they call once in a while?
Oh, totally. Sometimes I want to call specific editors and
ask them if they know there are 25 letters in the alphabet
besides "O," and maybe to move into a different section of
the racks. But just about everyone we work with who has gone
on to higher paying gigs hasn't abandoned their creator-owned
work. It's hard to let go of that kind of freedom. In fact,
look at someone like Andi Watson. He's writing two books for
Marvel, and he's had his most prolific year with Oni. He just
turned in the sixth issue of Love Fights, and it's the best
Bob Schreck was initially the big face of Oni... leaving Dark
Horse to pursue pet projects, developing talent - until he
was grabbed by DC. Since then Jamie, you've been growing as
the guy to talk to. Yet I hear some worrying news- that you're
on your way out of here. Why? When? What for? And what will
a Rich-less Oni look like?
You know, this year, a formerly big editor in comics who now
is a journalist came up to me in San Diego and asked, "How
is Oni doing with Bob gone?" It's been four years! He left
in April of 1999! I was like, "Way to check your facts." But
yeah, that's the shadow of Schreck, it's a big shadow. It
scares me a little bit that in some ways, I have begun to
rival that. That people do look to me, as you say. And since
what you have heard is true, it will be a little weird to
see how people will react. Yes, I am leaving Oni. It's something
that has been in the cards for a while. My goal was never
to be editing for so long, and it'll be ten years by the time
I am actually out of the office. My heart is in writing, and
I've been giving too much of myself to help other creators
bring their rather wonderful dreams to life. I am sure many
people are going to think I'm crazy, that I am walking away
from an ideal situation--but I've got to get a little selfish
and indulge the side of me that has been getting ignored for
excited for Joe and my editing colleague, James Lucas Jones.
This is their chance to get out from behind my shadow, the
way I got out from behind Schreck's shadow. No one realizes
how instrumental these two cats have been, how it's not just
me by myself. At the very worst, it will be business as usual
around here; but for them, I think, they'll be able to really
stretch, to exercise their creative muscles while I go off
to exercise mine.
How long are you staying with Oni? What kind of work will
we be seeing from you? And in what medium? I thoroughly enjoyed
the novel you published through Oni, 'Cut My Hair' - is slice-of-life
your true love?
Thanks! Yeah, slice-of-life is probably my real bag. I have
a hard time planning plots in any real sense. I need the characters
to tell me where to go, and sometimes I need to let them meander
and pretend they're in an Antonioni film or something.
Oni as an actual physical presence in the office until June.
Then I will remain with the boys on a freelance basis for
the rest of 2004, to be available as a consultant, answering
the basic questions that come up in transitions and seeing
projects through to completion. It will likely include reading
scripts, giving feedback, the more fun aspects of editing.
priority from there is my second novel, The Everlasting, which
has been moving at a glacial pace, which is heartbreaking
for me. I've aged well past my characters. Prose is my number-one
love, and I am looking at opportunities in that world. I am
also open to comics, and have a few pitches in the works.
And I plan to keep doing manga rewrites for Tokyopop.
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