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WAITING FOR TOMMY: JAMIE RICH
By Richard Johnston

RICHARD: 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?

JAMIE: 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 yet.

 

QUEEN AND COUNTRY: OPERATION BROKEN GROUND TPB

RICHARD: 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?

JAMIE: 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 too long.

I am 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.

RICHARD: 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?

JAMIE: 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.

I'm with 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.

My main 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.

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 Continued Here...

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