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SDCC 2019: Lion Forge Announces Signings and Programming

Lion Forge Comics

Just under two weeks ahead of the opening of the exhibit hall at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Lion Forge has revealed a full slate of signings, giveaways, and programming at this year’s convention.

Fans will get multiple chances to meet some of their favorite creators throughout the show, with days and times outlined below:

Thursday, July 18
11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.: Gene Ha (Mae)
12:30–1:30 p.m.: Norm Harper (Haphaven)
2:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.: Gail Simone (Catalyst Prime: Seven Days)
3:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m.: Rolled & Told Group Signing
5:00–6:00 p.m.: Michael Uslan & Andrew Pepoy (Dinosaucers)

Friday, July 19
10:00–11:00 a.m.: Ezra Claytan Daniels (Upgrade Soul)
11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.: Wendy Xu (Mooncakes)
1:00–2:00 p.m.: Gail Simone (Catalyst Prime: Seven Days)
2:30–3:30 p.m.: Maia Kobabe (Gender Queer: A Memoir)
4:00–5:00 p.m.: Samuel Sattin (GLINTBezkamp)

Saturday, July 20
10:00–11:00 a.m.: Ben Fisher, Michelle Nguyen, and Emily Whitten (The Underfoot)
11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.: Gail Simone (Catalyst Prime: Seven Days)
1:00–2:00 p.m.: Maia Kobabe (Gender Queer: A Memoir
2:30–3:30 p.m.: Rolled & Told Group Signing
4:30–5:30 p.m.: Ezra Claytan Daniels (Upgrade Soul)

Sunday, July 21
11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.: Ben Fisher, Michelle Nguyen, and Emily Whitten (The Underfoot)


Lion Forge-related programming details can be found below.

The d20 Dames Present: Building Inclusive Gaming Adventures for All, Thursday, 7/18/19, 7:00p.m. – 8:00p.m., Room: 32AB
Are you ready to move past the pre-gen table top adventures and build a nightmare landscape (or delicious pie-scape) for your friends? We’re here to help! Build an Adventure with live-play D&D podcast, d20 DamesJen Vaughn + Kat Kruger plus some mysterious guest NPCs! We’ve written a little bit of everything from D&D adventures to YA novels to comic series. We’ll cover some of the basics on what makes a great RPG/D&D campaign in addition to highlighting some of our favorites from this past year. 

Shirley Special Events Suite @ The San Diego Public Library, 330 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101

Comics and History in Comics,Friday, 7/19/19, 3 p.m.–4 p.m.
Combining text and image can make complex or abstract subject matter more appealing, winning over even the most reluctant reader. Learn how graphic novels can be used to supplement lessons in STEM and history, and bring awareness to underrepresented and marginalized perspectives.  Panelists include: Jim Ottaviani (Hawking), MK Reed (Science Comics: Wild Weather), Ben FisherMichelle Nguyen and Emily S. Whitten (The Underfoot: The Mighty Deep). Moderated by Tracy Edmunds (Educational Consultant and Curriculum Specialist) Sponsored by CBC Graphic Novel Committee.

A Life Illustrated: Memoirs in Comics, Friday, 7/19/19, 5:30p.m. – 6:30p.m., Room: 8
Spring saw the release of both Genderqueer: A Memoir from Maia Kobabe (who uses pronouns e, em, eir); a moving work of graphic nonfiction detailing eir coming of age and coming out as non-binary, and the first collection of the beloved webcomic, Our Super Adventure from Sarah Graley (Rick and Morty, Kim Reaper) and Stef Purenins; documenting all the weird little everyday flashes of shared absurdity that make up relationships. Join us for a discussion on how and why the comic book medium provides the perfect format for telling the life stories of the people behind them.

SDCC 2019: Katie O’Neill’s Tour Kicks Off July 9 in Seattle with her SDCC Debut

Just ahead of the release of an all-new companion story to the two-time Eisner Award-winning graphic novel The Tea Dragon Society, acclaimed graphic novelist Katie O’Neill ventures down the west coast for five signings in conjunction with her first-ever appearance at San Diego Comic-Con!

Katie is nominated again in this year’s Eisner Awards for her most recent work, Aquicorn Cove, a heartfelt story about learning to be a guardian to yourself and those you love. Her upcoming work, The Tea Dragon Festival, delivers another charming, gentle fantasy story about finding your purpose, and the community that helps you along the way. This highly anticipated follow up to the acclaimed 2017 graphic novel will be released in September.

Katie’s full itinerary can be found below, including signings and programming on site at San Diego Comic-Con!

SEATTLE, WA
Tuesday, July 9 @ 7PM
Third Place Books – Ravenna 

PORTLAND, OR
Thursday, July 11 @ 7PM
Powell’s Cedar Hills Crossing

SAN FRANCISCO
Saturday, July 13 @ 3:30PM
Charlie’s Corner
*with Mai K. Nguyen, author of Pilu of the Woods

SAN FRANCISCO 
Sunday, July 14 @ 12PM
Comix Experience

SAN DIEGO COMIC CON SIGNINGS 
All signings held at the Oni Press booth #1833

  • Thursday, July 18 @ 4:30pm – 5:30pm
  • Friday, July 19 @ 11:30am -12:30pm
  • Saturday, July 20 @ 2:00pm – 3:00 pm
  • Sunday, July 21 @ 2:30pm – 3:30pm

Additionally, fans can catch O’Neill in conversation with her editor at the below spotlight panel on Friday July 19: 

Katie O’Neill Spotlight, Friday, 7/19/19, 1:00p.m. – 2:00p.m., Room: 28DE

Join Eisner Award-winning children’s cartoonist Katie O’Neill(The Tea Dragon Society, Aquicorn Cove) in conversation with her editor Ari Yarwood, as they discuss Katie O’Neill’s evolving career, webcomics, craft, representation in children’s literature, and their favorite Tea Dragons.

LOS ANGELES
Tuesday, July 23 @ 6PM
Gallery Nucleus

Polarity’s Oni Acquisition Leaves Staff Scrambling for Jobs, to Pay Bills, and Medical Coverage

While some were praising the acquisition of Oni Press by Lion Forge‘s new parent company Polarity, there was a very human side to the story as individuals were laid off just hours after the announcement. That’s even after the initial press announcement article said staffing decisions were still being made about that.

While many rightly pointed out those fired were women, queer, disabled, and people of color, they are also human beings with bills to pay and medical expenses to cover. They need our help in the short term and jobs in the long term.

While an official butcher’s bill isn’t know, we’ve been told from those in the know that most of Lion Forge’s staff has been laid off along with some of Oni’s. In essence, Oni was acquired to absorb Polarity’s comic publishing arm and run that operation out of their Portland office.

The firings undermine the quote from a damage control interview where Polarity/Lion Forge founder David Steward II has said:

…there are things that we have to do, unfortunately, from a business standpoint to make sure that the organization stays healthy and that we’re able to continue to keep on our mission going forward.

Part of the initial announcement of Polarity was one of investment and funding. While the elimination of redundant positions would be expected in a merger/acquisition, this mass layoff, including another 11 laid off recently at Lion Forge, signals a business hemorrhaging money, a comics and entertainment dot com bubble in the making. It’s a sign of weakness, not strength. It also has become the story of the acquisition.

It looks like those fired are again in the double digits leaving talent out their for other publishers to snatch up including award winning creators. Some of that talent directly responsible for the diversity in creators and content that the company claims is a priority.

The layoffs also make little sense unless production is also being cut, otherwise you’d have a smaller staff producing the content of two publishers. No matter the careful spin by Polarity, there’s many questions they haven’t answered.

Below are just some of those looking for work or need our help to help cover medical expenses (if there are more, please comment below or contact us so we can add them):

This is just some of those laid off and the real people behind corporate decisions beyond their control.

There’s much more to come to this story.

Layoffs Have Already Begun Due to the Oni/Lion Forge Merger

Update: We’ve been told of many more layoffs but attempting to confirm the extent so as to not exaggerate. If anyone has more specific details or can confirm what we’ve been told, please contact us.

The press release and announcement isn’t even 2 hours old and already staff are losing their jobs due to the merger of Oni Press and Lion Forge. We’re told there’s multiple staffers who have been let go of the around 40 staff involved. In the initial story staffing decisions were mentioned but it’s happening much sooner than expected.

Mergers will lead to staffing cuts as positions overlap but decisions can take weeks, months, or longer to shake out. The Disney/Fox merger for instance is expected to cause up to 10,000 jobs lost over the next year as decisions are made.

We’ll let the Tweets below do the talking.

https://twitter.com/swindlesoiree/status/1126173121348694016

Lion Forge and Oni Press Merge Under Polarity

Rumors have been swirling of buyouts and mergers in the comics publishing world for some time and this year it looks like some of that is finally play out with today’s announcement that Lion Forge and Oni Press have announced a merger. Polarity, the parent company of Lion Forge, will become the majority owner of the new combined entity, with James Lucas Jones serving as president and publisher and the Oni team leading creative and business operations.

The combination of the two companies creates an industry player focused on creator-owned, cutting-edge licensed partnerships and original content. Both companies are known for engaging diverse and under-served audiences. In March 2019, Oni Press held 0.74% of the dollar share and 0.64% of the unit share for Diamond Comic Distributors. In 2018, the publisher made up 0.83% of the dollar share and 0.54% of the unit share.

The deal, which streamlines and concentrates the editorial, marketing, production and operations in Portland, OR, was orchestrated by Polarity president, Edward Hamati, who oversees administration and corporate development for Polarity.

As part of this transition, Joe Nozemack is stepping down as president and will move to a board and advisory role with the company. Sarah Gaydos will be serving as editor in chief of the new company. The staffing of the two companies is still up in the air as both have about 20 employees.

The move comes after the announcement of Polarity, Lion Forge’s parent company and its focus on expanding its reach into other media such as games, television, and film.

From Comics to Beyond, David Steward II Launches Polarity

David Steward II

News was revealed today that Lion Forge founder David Steward II has been quietly expanding his portfolio over the past year to meet the demands of today’s modern audiences. The goal is to go beyond comics but also television, movies, streaming, and gaming. In early 2018, Steward formed Polarity, a holding company and investment platform and began recruiting a new team of professionals.

The focus is authentic content for a global audience and Polarity has recruited individuals beyond the traditional Hollywood roots.

To form Polarity, Steward sought out talent from the business world to augment the creative talent led by himself and Carl Reed, Chief Creative Officer and co-founder of several companies in the Lion Forge brand family.  Polarity oversees operations for the portfolio and pursues new business opportunities to expand the company’s offerings.  

David recruited Edward Hamati, Polarity’s President, in early 2018. The two previously worked together at a private equity firm. Hamati also leads the firm’s corporate development activities including mergers and acquisitions and investments.

The core management team includes Shonagh Clements (Chief Legal Officer) and Angie Smith (Chief Financial Officer), well regarded industry professionals and leaders. On the portfolio operations side, the team includes Chip Schafer (VP, B2B services focus) and Rick Johnson (VP, publishing focus).

Polarity is based in St. Louis, MO with an office in Boston, MA.

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Stilleto #1

Wednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Amber Blake #1 (IDW Publishing) – A young girl is taken in by a “gifted school” and then goes on a revenge spree against that school. We’re intrigued.

Bronze Age Boogie #1 (AHOY Comics) – AHOY’s wave two begins with this series that mines the 70s for inspiration.

Cannabis: Illegalization of Weed in America (First Second) – The racist legislative history of Weed in the US!

Major X #1 (Marvel) – The 90s are back in so many ways with this first issue.

Marvel Action: Black Panther #1 (IDW Publishing/Marvel) – IDW continues their all-ages series based on Marvel characters. They’ve been solid entertainment so far.

Marvel Team-Up #1 (Marvel) – There’s something about this classic series as a whole that gets us excited. The first issue is a really cool flip-book experience.

Rocko’s Modern Afterlife #1 (BOOM! Studios/KaBOOM!) – A new limited series where O-Town is turning into mindless zombies and Rocko hopes to outlast the hoards by barricading himself in his home.

Section Zero #1 (Image Comics/Shadowline) – UFOs, Monsters, and Lost Civilizations? Yeah, we’re in for this adventure miniseries.

Stiletto #1 (Lion Forge Comics) – A new series from Palle Schmidt that’s a crime story revolving around the slaying of officers attempting to guard a material witness.

War of the Realms #1 (Marvel) – Marvel’s big event for 2019 starts here. Every character and series will be impacted and this first issue is epic.

WonderCon 2019: Lion Forge Announces Bezkamp, an Original Graphic Novel by Samuel Sattin and Jen Hickman

Before the opening of the exhibit hall at WonderCon in Anaheim, Lion Forge has revealed a delightfully original YA graphic novel under its Roar banner from Glint series writer, Samuel Sattin and co-created by artist Jen Hickman

In the village of Bezkamp, laws, land, rituals, and warriors are sacred. The written word is banished. Nem, son of one of Bezkamp’s strongest warriors, shows no signs of fire or strength. Forced to follow in his father’s footsteps, Nem must venture beyond their village walls in order to save land from being corrupted by the dangerous and toxic Crig beasts. As Nem begins to see more of their planet, he’ll begin to uncover the truth behind the village’s lies and start to fight for truth.

Bezkamp is an all-new graphic novel with a fun and original concept sure to excite readers young and old, to be released in October of 2019 at finer comic book shops and bookstores everywhere!

Bezkamp

WonderCon 2019: Lion Forge Announces Backtrack by Brian Joines and Jake Elphick

Lion Forge continues to ramp up its 2019 line of creator-owned comic book series with concepts every bit as original and unique as the creators behind them. Today, in conjunction with the opening of WonderCon in Anaheim, CA, the publisher announces Backtrack, an all-new, high-stakes series from creators Brian Joines and Jake ElphickBacktrack is one part Fast and Furious, one part Back to the Future, with a healthy dash of The Hunger Games!

If you had a chance to fix a mistake from your past, would you take it? Alyson Levy’s life as a “wheelman” for various criminals resulted in a tragedy which left her heartbroken to this day. When she hears news of a massive cross-country car race granting the winner the opportunity to correct a single mistake in their life, Alyson couldn’t say no. But there’s one small catch. Each leg covers a different period in history. Drivers will have to contend with the world outside: barbarian hordes, dinosaurs, medieval warriors, even the far-flung future…all while keeping ahead of the competition and contending with treacherous roadways. Survival may be the only way to win; and to right history, Alyson will drive from the Big Bang to the death knell of the universe.

Backtrack will be solicited in the July-dated PREVIEWS catalog for release in September, offered to retailers in a fully returnable standard comic format, priced at $3.99.

Backtrack

Lion Forge Will Collect Ariel Slamet Ries’ Webcomic Witchy in September

In conjunction with the Lion Forge panel at C2E2, the publisher of “comics for everyone” announced the collection and publication of Ariel Ries’s beloved webcomic, Witchy! Praised around the internet since its first appearance five years ago, Witchy was nominated for the 2015 Ignatz for Outstanding Online Comic, the 2016 DINKy for Outstanding Web Comic, and the Danish “Pingprisen” for Best Online Series in 2017 and 2018.

Now, Lion Forge announces the first long awaited print collection for release just in time for back to school reading!

In the witch kingdom Hyalin, the strength of your magic is determined by the length of your hair. Those that are strong enough are conscripted by the Witch Guard, who enforce the law in peacetime and protect the land during war. However, those with hair judged too long are pronounced enemies of the kingdom, and annihilated. This is called a witch burning

Witchy is an ongoing webcomic about the young witch Nyneve, who is haunted by the death of her father and the threat the Witch Guard poses to her own life. When conscription rolls around, Nyneve has a choice to make; join the institution complicit in her father’s death, or stand up for her ideals?

Witchy is updated online every Tuesday and Friday, with the print edition to be solicited in the July-dated PREVIEWS catalog for release in September.

Witchy
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