FOR TOMMY: JAMIE RICH
So, how many rejected Epic pitches have come your way?
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."
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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
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