Oni Press Marketing Director Tom Shimmin ran the publisher’s panel at New York Comic Con 2012, which featured Editor in Chief James Lucas Jones and creators Joe Harris, Cullen Bunn, Anath Panagariya, Chris Sims and Chad Bowers. The publisher had a number of announcements, both for upcoming projects and on developments for the Oni website.
To kick things off, writer Joe Harris spoke about his upcoming “Wars in Toyland” graphic novel drawn by Adam Pollina, which comes out in July. Harris described the book as a dark children’s story about a boy pulled into his toybox where toys are not only alive, but locked in brutal civil war.
“It’s pretty violent stuff for a children’s story,” Harris said, nothing the book has gorgeous artwork by Polina. “It’s violent, not because it’s graphic, but because of the consequences to the characters. No punches are spared.”
In March, writer Cullen Bunn launches new series “Hellheim” drawn by Joelle Jones. Bunn described the book as something he’s been thinking about for a long time
“It’s a dark, dark fantasy. It’s about this noble, great warrior who’s a good person, so I kill him quickly,” Bunn said, laughing. “He’s denied the peace and paradise he genuinely deserves and is brought back to fight in this war between these two witches.
“This war is corrupting everything,” Bunn went on to explain. “He wants this peace and can’t have it and begins to wonder if he even deserves it because of what he becomes.” The writer praised Jones’ artwork, saying from the first sketch she drew, he was blown away and knew she was the right artist for the book.
Bunn’s other big announcement was a spinoff of his creator-owned “The Sixth Gun,” a miniseries titled “The Sixth Gun: Sons of a Gun.” The first issue, co-written by Brian Hurtt and drawn by Brian Churilla (“The Secret History of D.B. Cooper), hits in February. “Sons of a Gun” tells the story of General Hume’s four lieutenants spanning the time between the General’s death during the Civil War through the first issue of “The Sixth Gun.”
Bunn said fans have asked about the characters since the first issue, though they were quickly killed off. He wanted to explore what happened to them and how the guns changed them in a way that will have ramifications for the main series going forward. Bunn also made it clear that these characters “are not heroes. They’re villains. Just horrible people.” But that while they’re villains, this is about how they change into monsters.
Jones spoke about the relaunch of Oni’s website in January. The publisher plans to use its website as a content platform to release comics daily. Jones noted Oni has always been a big fan of webcomics and has worked with many online creators.
“We decided it was time to take whole new approach to how we distribute content,” Jones said, emphasizing that Oni will still work in print and the website will continue to have information about upcoming print projects. “It’s kind of an epic undertaking,” Jones said, noting how long this project has been in the works and calling out Oni’s spotless track run on hitting publication dates. Jones further stated the publisher didn’t plan to launch webcomics without that same attention to detail.
The website will feature two new serials each week in addition to serializing some classic Oni titles. The plan is for 13-week “seasons” for serials followed by new serial launches — both ongoing and standalone.
The first new series is “A Boy & A Girl” by Jamie S. Rich and Natalie Nourigat. Jones had nothing but admiration for the two creators, noting the series represents something different for both. The series is a romance set in a “Blade Runner”-esque world with a different tone and background than any of Rich’s previous work and Jones described Nourigat’s work as just on another level.
Another series launching online is “Buzz” by Anath Panagariya and Tessa Stone, which takes place in the world of highly competitive spelling bees in a world where the event is as big as competitive sports. Panagariya said the series started when he watched bees on television and saw how brutal they can be, but also how inspirational it is to see kids who understand words so deeply.
Chris Sims and Chad Bowers of AwesomeHospital.com fame will write a new comic for the Oni website titled “Down! Set! Fight!” drawn by Scott Kowalchuk. Sims and Bowers joked they wrote the series about football since all comics fans love football and this would give them the largest possible audience.
The main character is the biggest rising star in football that has an unfortunate encounter with the mascot of an opposing team, who says the wrong thing at the wrong time. The character beats the mascot, the other team comes off the bench and he takes all of them. When his teammates try to pull him off, he takes out his own team. Fifteen years later, he’s a football coach in Columbia, South Carolina when a different mascot shows up and sets the character on an adventure. The duo said that they thought it would be fun to see a guy beating up someone in a giant animal costume and described it as “a book about how you can’t run away from your past, but you can punch it in the face.”
Bunn also mentioned that in late spring of next year there will be a hardcover collecting the first eleven issues of “The Sixth Gun” with a lot of extras, though they’re still deciding exactly what will be included in the oversized collection.
Jones wrapped the panel with the exciting news that “The Sixth Gun” has been optioned and a pilot is being written for NBC overseen by Carlton Cuse, the producer of “Lost” and “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.” and expressed hope that fans can celebrate the show’s launch at next year’s New York Comic Con.
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