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WAITING FOR TOMMY: JAMIE RICH
By Richard Johnston

RICHARD: So, how many rejected Epic pitches have come your way?

JAMIE: None that I know of. If anyone has gotten through our closed-door, they've been smart enough not to say, "Epic turned this down."

RICHARD: In a day when so many are looking for their break into comics, Oni hasn't opened its gates like some. Has anything you've published come from an unsolicited submission?

JAMIE: That was the thing, we never did. Of the piles that came in, we never plucked one out and said, "Hey, this guy!" It's part of why we said, "No more." It was a waste of everyone's time. All of the new talent we stumbled upon came to us through meeting them at conventions-Chynna Clugston-Major, Neal Shaffer, Daniel Krall, Christopher Mitten-or through connections, like Warren Ellis introducing us to Antony Johnston, J. Torres bringing Arthur Dela Cruz by. James Lucas Jones found Bryan O'Malley's work on the internet, and that's how we all met Steve Rolston the first time. I think we've broken more talent than we sometimes get credit for. I know one year we had more artists nominated for the Russ Manning Newcomer award than any other publisher had at one time prior to that.

RICHARD: Not too long ago, it seemed that there was a market shift starting towards a-list creators wherever they were working. Of late, it seems to have shifted back to those A-list only selling when they're on Batman or X-Men. Is this a worry?

JAMIE: I don't think so. It's like I said above, we aren't all that hot to constantly chase that A-List. I'd stack Christine Norrie's Cheat up against the top 10 selling comics any day and I think it would decimate them as a piece of art. But I'm biased. Besides, Greg Rucka's work for us holds strong. Ted Naifeh, Chynna Clugston-Major, and Andi Watson are gaining readers. Our original graphic novels are gaining readers. I can't wait to see what Barry Ween in Space and Deep Sleeper do now that Judd Winick, Phil Hester, & Mike Huddleston have so much more name recognition. It all depends how you want to grow, where you worry about getting the sales from. I think Courtney Crumrin has a much greater chance of stealing a reader from Chobits than Superman does any day, myself.

That said, we wouldn't turn down a heavy-hitter just because he or she is a heavy-hitter. Nor would we accept them based on their name alone. It's all down to the project.

 

QUEEN AND COUNTRY: OPERATION CRYSTAL BALL TPB

RICHARD: Ted Naifeh's Courtney Crumrin appears to be a real sleeper hit - even more so than Gloomcookie. The kind of book that could sustain an entire company given the right profile. Hell, it's got the potential to outsell X-Men. What kind of reader has it been attracting?

JAMIE: I think it and Blue Monday are similar in that they attract a real broad base. We get some of the same fans as Gloomcookie did, the Goths and other alternative-types (whatever you want to call them), as well as people who like to read fantasy fiction, and even some regular old fanboys who normally like their heroines in short skirts and capes. It's got a definite broad base appeal, and it would be hard to single out any typical Courtney Crumrin fan. Sometimes we're very surprised to see who approaches us at a convention to get their fix.

RICHARD: How do you pick a winner? Can you talk us through, say, a random example of a project that came your way, how you decided it was right for Oni, and how you nurtured it to publication?

JAMIE: I wish there was an easy answer to that. It definitely falls into the "I know it when I see it" category. Sometimes it takes years, as my relationship with Chynna Clugston-Major will attest. I always knew I wanted to be there when she finally brought her work into its ready-to-publish phase, and she would stay in touch, show me new samples, and I'd give her critiques and send her back to her studio. With someone like Antony Johnston or J. Torres, they toss ideas at us, and we pick what we think sounds good, considering how it fits in with what we're doing and making sure it isn't redundant when put against something else on our schedule. Sometimes we have to wait awhile as we root around for the right artist, and then it will really click. On rare occasions, we might have some heavy notes on a book. "We'll do this, but only if you consider doing this." We have a series by Ross Campbell following his work on Hopeless Savages and Spooked, and that was a case of, "I like this a lot, but we need a different beginning." He could see what we were saying, and ended up agreeing, so it was greenlit. Then there's the aforementioned Andi Watson. All I need to ask is, "How long is it, and when do you want it out?"

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

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