Two prominent independent comic book companies are joining forces to more effectively champion projects outside of the comic mainstream, with the news that Oni Press and Lion Forge Comics will merge.
The surprise announcement was first reported Wednesday by The New York Times, with a release immediately issued with more information, including the organizational structure of the new publisher: Oni’s James Lucas Jones will serve as president and publisher, with Sarah Gaydos becoming editor-in-chief. Oni’s editorial team will lead “creative and business operations,” according to the release, with current president and company founder Joe Nozemack moving into a board and advisory position.
“We want to build on our strength as a go-to destination for creators, grow our culture as an employee-first organization, and reinforce our commitment to our industry partners and friends,” Jones said in a statement. “In an increasingly competitive marketplace, where the business of comics and graphic novels is rapidly evolving, this merger is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our two companies to pool our resources for one goal: to create the finest comics and graphic novels for everyone.”
Polarity, the holding company and investment platform created last year by Lion Forge founder David Steward II, will be the majority owner of the new company. In the release, Steward called Oni’s output in its 20-plus years of publishing “not only remarkable, but aspirational,” adding that the idea of the two companies combining made sense, given a shared commitment to a diverse publishing slate: “The more we spoke, the more the relationship evolved to the point that we knew our combined experience and resources would align to achieve that goal and advance our unique position in the marketplace.”
Oni Press, founded in 1997 in Portland, Oregon, has published projects as diverse as Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series, Greg Rucka’s detective series Stumptown and print editions of Erika Moen and Matt Nolan’s sex education webcomic Oh Joy Sex Toy. Outside of comics, the company has active gaming and movie divisions.
St. Louis-based Lion Forge was launched in 2011 with the intent of publishing ethically diverse creators and ethnically diverse characters. The publisher has gained attention for its middle grade imprint, Carcal, and its YA imprint Roar.
More information about the merger, including what the news means for already-announced publishing projects, is expected in upcoming weeks.