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It’s Orcs… In… Space!

From the co-creator of the cult-favorite television series Rick and Morty, Justin Roiland is teaming up with writers Michael Tanner, Rashad Gheith, and Abed Gheith, writer-illustrator François Vigneault, and colorists DJ Chavis and Dave Pender with the Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group to launch a new series, Orcs in Space, in July 2021.

With humorous nods to some of pop culture’s most recognizable fandoms, the series follows three inept orcs as they steal the universe’s most technologically advanced spaceship and take it for a ride.

Gor, Kravis, and Mongtar are three orcs trying to survive while on the run from everything and everyone on their homeworld. When the naïve bureaucrats from StarBleep land on their planet, the orcs unwittingly steal the most advanced ship in the fleet and blast into the dankest reaches of the outer galactigon. Now the universe’s most wanted, the orcs befriend the ship’s AI, D.O.N.A., in a bid to get free… but will that be enough to escape StarBleep?

The 44-page super first issue of Orcs in Space launches with variant covers by Nicole Goux, François Vigneault, and Justin Roiland on July 7, 2021.

Orcs in Space

Ray Fawkes’ One Soul Sparks New Book, Coming Summer 2021

The Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group has announced the tenth-anniversary edition of Ray Fawkes‘ critically acclaimed and deeply moving graphic novel One Soul, as well as the upcoming One Line, a brand-new book from Fawkes. Both One Soul: Tenth Anniversary Edition and One Line will be available in 2021.

One Soul details the lives of eighteen individuals throughout history whose lives unfold simultaneously. Comprised entirely of double-page spreads split into eighteen panels, with each panel featuring one character’s life, cartoonist Ray Fawkes uses an experimental narrative structure to artfully craft eighteen linear stories into one non-linear masterpiece. Nominated for the 2012 Eisner Award in the New Graphic Album category, One Soul is a powerful and life-affirming story about the way human beings all over the world are connected. The tenth-anniversary edition of One Soul will be available as a metallic foil-stamped hardcover.

As One Soul followed eighteen people from birth until death, showcasing their common joys and pains as well as their unique experiences, the upcoming One Line follows eighteen families through four centuries, showing how traditions, ethics, and prejudices are handed down from generation to generation. Some families will interact, some will join together, some will remain alone. Some will persist, and some will die out. One Line will be published as a beautifully designed foil-stamped hardcover edition.

One Soul: Tenth Anniversary Edition will be available in stores and online on February 24, 2021, with One Line to follow in the summer on July 21, 2021.

Cheer Up! Love and Pompoms Coming this Summer

The Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group has announced the upcoming original graphic novel, Cheer Up!: Love and Pompoms, from the creative team of Crystal Frasier and Val Wise. Fans of Fence and Check, Please! will cheer for this fiercely close-knit group of girls as they take on the emotional highs and lows of relationships and high-school cheerleading in August 2021.

Annie is a smart, antisocial lesbian starting her senior year of high school, and for her it’s all about the college applications. Who has time for extracurriculars when you’re trying to be top of the class? But when her high school counselor informs her she needs to do more than just be an ace student, she decides to suck it up and join the cheerleading squad. Her former friend BeBe is a people-pleaser—a trans girl who must make her parents happy with her grades and social life in order to keep their support of her transition. Through the rigors of squad training and amped-up social pressures (not to mention microaggressions and other queer youth problems), the two girls rekindle a friendship they thought they’d lost and discover there may be other, sweeter feelings springing up between them. 
In the beginning, Annie and Bebe’s story was going to take a very different direction, until the creative team made the decision to turn a few stereotypes—including those about cheerleaders— on their heads.

Pep rallies, high-school angst, and teen romance offer up a delightful tale in Frasier and Wise’s Cheer Up!: Love and Pompoms as it joins the growing world of sports graphic novels. Cheer Up!: Love and Pompoms will be available in stores and online on August 11, 2021.

Cheer Up!: Love and Pompoms

Advance Review: The Hazards of Love Vol. 1 Bright World

The Hazards of Love Vol. 1 Bright World

It’s the start of a new year. The time when people set resolutions in order to better their lives and themselves. The quest to become a better person is the central theme of The Hazards of Love. This original graphic novel, published by Oni-Lion Forge, is due out on March 31st. In what’s becoming a rarity in the modern comic book industry, this book is the product of a single creator. Stan Stanley does it all in this graphic novel. She’s the writer, artist, colorist, and letterer. The graphic novel, subtitled Book 1: Bright World, collects the eleven issue first arc of the marvelous and creative series.

In The Hazards of Love, Amparo makes a deal with a talking cat, hoping to be made into a better person. Instead, the cat steals Amparo’s body and sends them to a strange realm known as Bright World. One of my favorite things about this graphic novel is that Amparo is a queer non-binary character. Amparo is very dynamic and defined by more than just their gender. Their tough attitude, infectious charm, and bold tenacity makes them relatable and fun to read.

One thing I find endearing but far fetched was that all the characters are immediately accepting and cognizant of Amparo’s neutral pronouns. One random girl misgenders Amparo in a single panel. Every other character, from the school bully to the magical denizens of Bright World, uses the correct pronouns. It’s a great inclusion as far as representation goes and I for one hope to one day live in a world where such understanding is as common in our world as it is in The Hazards of Love.

All of the dialogue in this graphic novel is light-hearted and humorous. Stanley crafts an interesting and multi-faceted love story. I’m not usually the biggest fan of romance, but if I’m going to read the genre, this is the type of love story I want to read. On the other hand, I do read quite a bit of YA fantasy. So I can say with confidence that Stanley’s story hits all the high points that I want out of that particular genre. All of the characters are unique with their own distinct personalities. Just when I started to get bored with a particular situation or locale, Stanley changed things up and introduced a new setting, scenario, or character.

Stanley mixes illustrative styles throughout the graphic novel. Her characters are drawn in a way that reminded me of The Magic School Bus. Her title pages and narrative text is all drawn and colored so that it is reminiscent of Dios de los Muertos decorations. Whether they’re more realistic looking or the bright pastels inherent from Mexican culture, Stanley’s color choices work together to connect all of the imagery together. She also uses visual onomatopoeia to creatively illustrate sound effects. These are drawn and colored in such a way that they practically pop from the page.

There are occasional discrepancies between how the characters are illustrated. Amparo is drawn much more animatedly than Iolanthe, even when they’re together in the same panel. Iolanthe stays realistic and natural-looking while Amparo looks very much like a cartoon, complete with bugged-out eyes and elastic features. This animated illustration style works better when Amparo is paired with the anthropomorphic animal characters in Bright World than it does when paired with Iolanthe or other human characters. Having said that, Bright World is drawn and colored so intricately and beautifully that these slight deviations can be easily forgiven.

As we move into 2021, all of us are hoping for a better year. The Hazards of Love is both something to look forward to and a reminder of the risks one must occasionally take in order to become a better person. The story is full of excitement, humor, and touching moments. The artwork, especially the colors, is spectacularly done. There are a few minor flaws, but they aren’t enough to detract from the greatness of this graphic novel. Upon finishing the book I was immediately excited to find out what happens next. Be sure to look for The Hazards of Love when it hits shops on March 31st.

Story: Stan Stanley Art: Stan Stanley
Color: Stan Stanley Letterer: Stan Stanley
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Pre-Order: Comic Shop LocatorAmazon

Review: Quincredible Vol. 1

Quincredible Volume 1

Full disclosure: My email account may also be a time machine. Allow me to explain. When I saw the email from Lionforge with the opportunity to review this graphic novel, I thought it sounded like a very interesting read. Before I started reading this it, I did a little Google research. I discovered that Quincredible Volume 1 was already released in 2019. According to the publisher, the book I had the opportunity to review is due out on February 24th of next year. So, I’m not sure if my email has allowed me to travel to the past or if this is a second printing of this series’ first story arc or the first time this arc has been released as a trade paperback. In any case, if you don’t have access to a time machine of your own, missed this title the first time around, or are like me and have never heard of it before, now’s your chance to enter the world of Quincredible. (Note: The first volume gets a reprinting in a new trim-sized format for 2021 – Ed)

The first arc of this series, written by Rodney Barnes, is entitled, “Quest to be the Best.” After a meteor shower rained down on his Louisiana Parish, Quin woke up to find he’d gained the superpower of invulnerability. Unfortunately, he’s still just a lightweight teenager, and this power doesn’t seem to do him much good. Quin compensates for his lack of strength by outsmarting the criminals he faces by outmaneuvering them or catching them in traps. Although there were some things I liked about the first volume of this series, I wasn’t blown away by the storytelling.

There were of course a few high points. For one, Quin’s positive relationship with his father is front and center. Considering how many heroes either don’t have parents or don’t see eye to eye with them, this was a nice touch. I also found it very interesting, not to mention another nice change of pace, that it’s the smartest girl in school Quinn hopes will notice him one day and not the hottest, as is so often the case. The designs of the superhero’s costumes are cool, but many of them seemed almost too futuristic. Aside from this being a story featuring people with superpowers, everything else felt really grounded. Even with superpowers, Quinn leads an ordinary life. The book explores themes and events that occur in the real world every day. The one exception being that there just happen to be superheroes in the world of Quincredible as well. So the high tech looking costumes felt out of place, especially for a bunch of basically independent New Orleans superheroes.

In fact, I’m just going to come out and say it, this title would be better if it weren’t about superheroes at all. Take out the superpower aspects, and give me a black teenager who wants to make a difference in his community, so he uses his intelligence and elaborate traps to help the police fight crime. That’s what I would have liked to see out of Quincredible. Instead, his invulnerability often feels like an afterthought and most of the best moments in this first volume are all about Quin and his beliefs or relationships. None of which are made better when his superpower is factored into the equation. The invulnerability just seems unnecessary and I feel like it gets in the way of the storytelling. By the third time Quin took a laser blast and was unschathed, the gimmick got really old.

The synergy between illustrator Selina Espiritu and colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick is obvious on every page. I loved the use of shadow as it really helped convey depth and perspective. If left to stand on their own, both the colors and line work would come off looking flat. Luckily, Espiritu and Fitzpatrick’s talents complement each other and elevate the artwork in Quincredible. Espiritu also does a great job of conveying motion throughout the book, keeping the still images from looking overtly static.

I assume this series is geared for a young adult audience, but with that being said, I found the dialogue to be too simple and juvenile. I read quite a bit of YA genre fiction, and it doesn’t have to be watered down to be relatable and entertaining to readers of all ages. Diversity and representation are always good, especially in comic books, but I found Quincredible’s story to be kind of boring. The characters are relatable and fun to root for, but the plot and dialogue were underwhelming. There are a few creative touches in regard to the writing, but overall, the story doesn’t really stand out. The artwork isn’t mind-blowing, but it is of good quality and technically well done. The artwork does keep the story visually interesting and helps sell an otherwise bland narrative.

The volume Lionforge provided me to review is solicited for release on 2-23-2021.

Story: Rodney Barnes Art: Selina Espiritu
Color: Kelly Fitzpatrick Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Story: 4.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindle

Choose Your Own Adventure Graphic Novels in August 2021

In a dynamic and exciting move, Chooseco, publisher of the world-famous Choose Your Own Adventure interactive book series, and Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group have announced their upcoming partnership with the launch of Choose Your Own Adventure graphic novels in August 2021.

The series will kick off with the classic Choose Your Own Adventure: Eighth Grade Witch from the creative team of E.L. Thomas, Andrew Gaska, Valerio Chiola, and Thiago Ribeiro. In true Choose Your Own Adventure form, the reader is immersed in the story as Rabbit, the new kid on the block who enters a ghoulish world of nightmares, witches, and ghosts. From learning about the mysterious witch Prudence Deadly, trouncing through spooky graveyards, meeting ghostly ancestors, or channeling some witchcraft with classmates, the readers will choose which adventure or nightmare they’ll embark on. No one path leads to the same destination, and readers will face choices that will either lead them to the light—or a gruesome end. Choose Your Own Adventure: Eighth Grade Witch will release on August 25, 2021 with the long-standing Chooseco classic Journey Under the Sea as the next title in the official line.

Choose Your Own Adventure graphic novels

Girl Haven by Lilah Sturges and Meaghan Carter is out Spring 2021 from Oni and Lion Forge

Girl Haven

The Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group has announced an upcoming collaboration with Lilah Sturges, author of the New York Times bestselling series Lumberjanes, and Meaghan Carter, creator of the webcomics Take Off and Godslave, with the release of their middle-grade graphic novel Girl Haven in February 2021.

Three years ago, Ash’s mom left home and never returned, leaving behind a husband and child and a shed full of mystical curiosities related to the all-girl fantasy world she’d created as a child—Koretris. One day, Ash invites a new group of female friends from the school’s Pride Club over, and they try one of the spells to enter Koretris. To their amazement, they’re all transported to a magical realm filled with human-sized talking animals who are fiercely protective of their world and are ready to fight to defend it.

But if Koretris is real, why is Ash there? Everyone has always called Ash a boy—shouldn’t the spell have kept Ash out? And what does it mean if it let Ash in? With a diverse and queer cast of characters, Girl Haven takes place in that strange, special time of life when every young person is on the verge of discovering who they are—and what they want for themselves.

Girl Haven will be available in stores and online February 9, 2021.

Graphic Policy Weekly Episode 1: Pilot

Welcome to the launch of Graphic Policy Weekly, our new weekly show going over the biggest comic news out there.

On this debut episode:

  • Last week and this week’s comics!
  • Marvel Celebrates 80 Years
  • Dark Horse and Netflix cut a first look deal

Main story:

  • Polarity, Lion Forge, and Oni Press, this past week’s biggest comic news. We dissect what it means, why it happened, and why you shouldn’t believe the spin.

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.

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