Oni Press, Lion Forge Announce Merger

Independent comic publishers Oni Press and Lion Forge are planning to announce a merger of the two companies.

Both companies claim this will strengthen their library of intellectual properties, which include comics and graphic novels. The merged entity can then use its combined strength to spread into other media platforms -- most specifically film and animation.

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The current publisher of Oni Press, James Lucas Jones, will become president of this new company,as well as publisher. The deal was further negotiated by Polarity, a company founded by Lion Forge founder David Steward II to help develop projects for Lion Forge's properties and characters outside comics (most specifically, again, film and animation). Steward II believes that, together, the two companies have a “bigger, stronger, singular strategy.”

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Polarity will continue to assist the newly merged company, and on Monday, Polarity announced it would create an animation studio to produce television and film content. As Steward II told Forbes, “We see an advantage in integrating everything under one umbrella. We’re focused on the creation of things that have legs in various formats. Comics is just one of the formats we know and love, but there are obviously many big opportunities in today’s entertainment market.”

Oni Press has had success in the past with its intellectual properties. Most memorable is the film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which was based on a series of graphic novels. However, this merger is not simply going to benefit both companies' multi-media aspirations. It should also help them expand their reach in the comic marketplace.

While comic book properties are clearly a hot commodity, many publishers outside of Marvel and DC have difficulty finding success or spreading out into the bigger market place. In many respects, the Big Two monopolize major consumers due to the two companies' size and influence, giving independent publishers less of a chance to market their content.

Furthermore, it is becoming harder and harder for comic publishers to sell their products. Gerry Gladston, chief marketing officer of Midtown Comics, explained, “The number of new comic books available each month has grown in general, and across all publishers.”

RELATED: Independent Publisher Lion Forge Hit with Layoffs

However, film and animation adaptations of intellectual properties can also function as large advertisements for independent comic books. While Scott Pilgrim vs. the World initially underperformed at the box office, it made audiences interested in the original series of graphic novels. The final volume, released after the film, sold 100,000 copies on its first printing.

This merger should allow Oni Press and Lion Forge to expand into new media enterprises, as well as further into the comic marketplace. If all goes according to plan, comic fans can only stand to benefit from this news.

(via The New York Times)

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