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Sarah Gaydos and Oni Press-Lion Forge Part Ways

It’s not too often you see a statement like the below but Oni Press-Lion Forge and Sarah Gaydos have announced that they have parted ways.

Gaydos was the Editor in Chief for the publisher. She joined the company in 2018 as the Editorial Director of Licensed Publishing. She was then promoted in 2019 to Editor in Chief where she had been in the role ever since.

Gaydos began her comics career at WildStorm, an imprint of DC Comics, in 2006. She began in the administration department, and worked her way into editorial, cutting her teeth on licensed titles like World of Warcraft and titles for younger readers like Batman: Li’l Gotham. After joining IDW Publishing and eventually being promoted to Group Editor, Gaydos has found success editing a wide variety of content, with a special focus on comics for kids.

Publisher James Lucas Jones will oversee the day-to-day editorial operations while a search for a replacement takes place. Managing editor Chris Cerasi and associate publisher Michelle Nguyen will support Jones.

Alex Segura Joins Oni-Lion Forge as VP of Sales and Marketing

Alex Segura

Alex Segura has joined Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group as the VP of Sales and Marketing. Segura leaves Archie Comics where he was the co-President starting in that position in 2017. Segura steps into his role on May 24.

At Oni-Lion Forge, Segura will be responsible for publicity, marketing, and sales efforts for all of the company’s channels and imprints.

Segura had worked at Archie as the VP, Director of Sales and MArketing from 2009 to 2021 and returned in 2013 to the comapny as the VP of Publicity, Marketing, and Editor of Archie’s Dark Circle Comics imprint. He has also worked with DC Comics.

Segura is also an accomplished writer having released numerous books and comics.

The Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group, Bryan Lee O’Malley, and Binc Come Together in Support of the “Survive to Thrive” Campaign

In celebration of the eleventh (or was it tenth?) epic anniversary of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley, the Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group, and the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) are coming together to bring fans of the cult classic comic series and Edgar Wright film an exclusive limited-edition T-shirt designed by Bryan Lee O’Malley.

Ten percent of proceeds will be donated to Binc to support their “Survive to Thrive” campaign, which provides monetary grants to comic book stores negatively impacted by the pandemic. “We are honored to be included in this major anniversary event. Bryan’s generosity will help comic shops across the country as they work to recover from the impact of the pandemic. We continue to be humbled by the comic community’s support and advocacy,” said Pam French, Binc Foundation executive director. From March through December 2020, Binc raised and distributed over $2.9M, helping more than 2,200 book and comic stores and more than 600 individuals.

Featuring Ramona Flowers against a black backdrop with her classic star bag, the T-shirt is available for $35 via the Oni Press webstore. Preorder the limited edition T-shirt now until 11:59 P.M. PT on May 19, 2021. The shirt will ship by August.

Review: Backtrack Vol. 2

Backtrack Vol. 2

Backtrack returns in the second volume of this full-throttle action series. Written by Brian Joines, the story follows a group of professional drivers from all walks of life. Each has been offered the chance to right their life’s greatest mistake. All they have to do is enter a race and be the first to cross the finish line of the final leg. Of course, there’s a catch. The drivers find themselves racing through time and fighting for their very survival with each subsequent leg of the course. There have also been hints that there is more going on than meets the eye, but the drivers have been too preoccupied with avoiding gladiators, earthquakes, and dinosaurs to do much investigating.

At the end of Volume 1, the drivers decided they needed to work together if any of them were to survive to the final leg of the race. As Backtrack Volume 2 begins, we see that some of the surviving drivers have taken this to heart, while others are still only out for themselves. After focusing mostly on Alyson during the first story arc, Joines widens the scope and gives readers more insight into the other racers’ pasts. I personally enjoyed this character development. It’s an addition that was largely missing from the first arc in the series. Use of flashbacks to break up the action scenes really helped to give the racing sequences more of a punch. Joines also uses these flashbacks to reveal further details of the motivations that lie at the heart of the each driver and the mysteries of the race itself.

Artist Jake Elphick does a great job of drawing the characters when they are shown in close-ups. He expertly conveys the emotions the characters are feeling in any given panel. I wasn’t as impressed with his skills when a panel is drawn from a wider angle. Some of the nuance is lost and it can be hard to tell the characters apart from one another. This is puzzling as Elphick draws the races at an appropriate scale, using combinations of wide and close-up panels to help readers follow the drivers’ progress along the course. The cars and their relative positions remain clear throughout the races, though at times it is tough to tell which driver is speaking or which car they are driving. Luckily, the settings of each race are extravagantly drawn, so even when a reader can’t tell exactly which driver is in peril or in the lead, there’s always other cool imagery they can take in.

While the first volume of Backtrack mainly focused on action and setting up the series, the story arc collected in this second volume feels much more flushed out. Readers are treated to the same high-octane action while also enjoying solid character development. The artwork hits a lot of high points though sometimes clarity becomes an issue. I recommend memorizing the type and color of car each character is driving. This would be unnecessary if things were drawn with greater detail in panels with wider perspectives. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. The second volume of Backtrack, published by Oni-Lion Forge, is out now and available for purchase. Pick up your copy today to see the thrilling conclusion to the series and find out which of the drivers ends up winning the race.

Story and Created: Brian Joines Art: Jake Elphick
Color: Doug Garbark Letterer: Jim Campbell
Story: 9.0 Art: 6.0 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindle TFAWBookshop

Invader Zim Sees Its Final Original Single Issue Comic in Summer 2021

Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group and Nickelodeon bring the final installment of the Invader ZIM original single-issue comics in time for the 20th anniversary of Invader ZIM — Invader ZIM: The Dookie Loop Horror, written by Jhonen Vasquez and Eric Trueheart, with illustrations by Aaron Alexovich, colors by Fred C. Stresing, and lettering by Warren Wucinich. The oversized single issue will be out in August 2021.

In Invader ZIM: Dookie Loop Horror, up in the sky, something…BLUE approaches. And it smells HORRIBLE. It turns out that interdimensional creatures called Chrono-Dumpers eat time and use our dimension as a toilet, creating an infinite time loop. There is no escape from the time poop loop, forcing Dib and ZIM to live the same TERRIBLE day forEVER. They wake, the tuxedoed pig farts, the world ends. And the key to fixing the loop is GIR. We are all DOOMED.

Variant covers of the oversize 32-page final issue will feature art by Jhonen Vasquez, Cole Ott, J.R. Goldberg, and Aaron AlexovichInvader Zim: The Dookie Loop Horror will be available on August 4, 2021, in stores and online via comiXology.

Invader Zim: The Dookie Loop Horror

Travel to Hotel Immortal with Rick and Morty in July

Coming soon from the Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group and Adult Swim, a brand-new Rick and Morty comic crashes into comic book shops in July 2021 with Rick and Morty PresentsHotel Immortal from the creative team of writer Alejandro Arbona, illustrator Marc Ellerby, and colorist Leonardo Ito, with lettering by Crank!. The next installment of the Rick and Morty Presents series kicks off with a whodunnit in Rick and Morty PresentsHotel Immortal. When Cornvelious Daniels checks in for some R&R at the Hotel Immortal, bodies start dropping—and accusations start flying!

Rick and Morty PresentsHotel Immortal will be available online and in stores on July 14, 2021.

Rick and Morty

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1 Heads Back to Print

The Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group is thrilled to announce that the first issue printing of the all-ages single-issue series Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters, in which two sisters struggle on a journey against incredible “unpossible” monsters of all shapes and sizes from the creative team of Chris Samnee, Laura Samnee, Matthew Wilson, and Crank!, has sold out at the distribution level and is heading for an immediate reprint. The second printing features the already-iconic first issue cover by Chris Samnee as reimagined by colorist Matthew Wilson.

Rainbow has been searching for her sister, Jonna, for a year. The last time she saw Jonna was also the first time she saw one of the strange monsters that now roam the planet. They’re big, ugly, and dangerous creatures that have driven humanity to the brink of extinction. Though there isn’t much hope for survival out in the wild, Rainbow knows that her sister is out there somewhere—and she’ll do anything to find her.

Print copies of Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1 continue to be available at your local comic book store. Digital copies are available for purchase from comiXology and other digital retailers.

The final order cutoff for the Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters issue #1 reprint is March 22, 2021, it will be available in stores and online on April 14, 2021. The Diamond Previews code for Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1 second printing is FEB218316. Final order cutoff for Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #2 has been updated to March 29, 2021, in light of the second printing of issue #1, with a new on-sale date of April 21, 2021.

You can read our review of Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1.

Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #1 2nd printing

Early Review: The Sprite and the Gardener

The Sprite and the Gardener

I am an avid reader of all types of fiction. Regardless of genre or format, I love to discover the debut works of new writers. The cover art alone got me excited to read The Sprite and the Gardener when I was presented with the opportunity to review this book. Then I read the solicitation text and my excitement rose exponentially. In this original graphic novel, writers Rii Abrego and Joe Whitt’s debut their talents in a spectacular way. Published by Oni Press, The Sprite and the Gardener is set to release on May 5th.

The Sprite and the Gardener is a celebration of nature, told from the perspective of sprites. The sprites used to be the guardians of all plant life. Now, humans tend their own gardens. Wisteria, the graphic novel’s main character, must learn to work her magic right alongside humankind. After all, they all have the flowers’ best interests at heart.

I was glad to see a lot of visual storytelling as I read through The Sprite and the Gardener. There are times when whole pages fly by without a single word of dialogue. Yet, the reader can always tell exactly what’s happening. The story itself is a bit simplistic though. There’s never really any tension. There’s a little interpersonal conflict between the sprites but it doesn’t add much to the narrative. The plot just sort of unfolds, though luckily it does so at a very fast pace. Despite its simplicity, the graphic novel has a very cute and touching ending.

The Sprite and the Gardener is the type of book that could be enjoyed for its art alone. Abrego pulls double duty, writing the book alongside Whitt, while also illustrating and coloring the book. Abrego draws each panel in exquisite detail. She uses subtle colors, but the subdued shades still pop off the page and catch the reader’s eye. Abrego’s characters are so vibrant and full of life. They’re also incredibly adorable. The sprites are full of life and magic in equal measure. The font Crank! uses for the book’s narrative text has an olde-school, hand-written look. This style adds greatly to the magical aesthetic Abrego and Whitt have created.

At only ninety pages, The Sprite and the Gardener is a quick read. However, the art is so beautiful that once you finish it, you’ll want to immediately flip back through it, just to take in the artwork again. The story is a little on the simple side, but it’s never hard to follow the plot. The best way to describe this graphic novel would be, it’s like a picture book for adults (though kids would love it too). Put this title on your pull list so you can add it to your collection when it releases on May 5th.

Story: Rii Abrego and Joe Whitt Art: Rii Abrego Letterer: Crank!
Story: 5.0 Art: 10 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation Buy (for the artwork!)

Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Pre-order: AmazonBookshopTFAW

Oni-Lion Forge Reveal its Children’s and Young Adult Summer Lineup

The Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group has revealed several upcoming children’s and middle-grade graphic novels coming summer 2021.

Courtney Crumrin returns in an all new series by Ted NaifehThe Crumrin Chronicles Vol 1: The Charmed and the Cursed, in June.

In The Crumrin Chronicles, this time it’s not just Courtney that stumbles into trouble— helping her little brother Will navigate high school might be the death of her.

The Crumrin Chronicles Vol 1: The Charmed and the Cursed

Also in June, everyone’s favorite heavy-metal-karaoke-singing red panda is back as Sanrio’s Aggretsuko stars in her first original graphic novel in Aggretsuko: Little Rei of Sunshine from Brenda Hickey.

The office queen of karaoke meets her match when Retsuko’s favorite band reunites for a special concert. The Brides of Resonance return, but why do they want to take over the karaoke bar? Retsuko and friends have to fight for their right to party in a metal vs. metal vocal battle that pits Retsuko against a shadowy enemy. Will Gori survive a night of metal and moshing? Is Haida truly in love? Find out in Aggretsuko: Little Rei of Sunshine!

Aggretsuko: Little Rei of Sunshine

And Dragon Racera brand-new graphic novel from Joey Weiser, creator of Ghost Hog, brings back fan-favorite characters Truff, Claude, and Stanley, along with a brand-new friend, Vern! Vern is a racer at heart, even if he’s never quite won a race before—but he knows he’s ready!

 Dragon Racer

July finds readers going out of this world in Star Beasts by Stephanie Young and Allyson Lassiter, as they tell the (sorta) true (not really) story of why Pluto is no longer a planet.

Young puppy Bandit leaves his family behind on Earth to join the secret order of Star Beasts, cosmic creatures sworn to protect Earth—only not everyone is as welcoming as he thought they might be, and Bandit finds himself having difficulties fitting in. But when powerful galactic relics are stolen, the Star Beasts will need to come together before Pluto’s evil emperor’s plans are realized and everyone on Earth is wiped out!

Star Beasts

Early Review: One Soul Tenth Anniversary Edition

One Soul

Can you believe it’s been ten years since One Soul was originally published? Fans of the graphic novel or Ray Fawkes’ work probably said something along the lines of, “My gosh, it’s really been ten years?” Then there are people like me who completely missed it the first time around. Lucky for us, Oni Press is releasing a commemorative edition on February 24th. In One Soul, Fawkes uses an experimental narrative structure to explore the lives of eighteen individuals. These people are spread out across different periods of time but their stories play out simultaneously.

One Soul grabs the reader’s attention from the very first page. It begins with two pages of nine black panels. Next comes a series of black panels filled with white ink blots. It’s like a Rorschach test that is given context as soon as the narration begins. This narration is written like poetry. I’ve read several novels written in verse but this is the first graphic novel I’ve read that’s written in this style. After finishing this one, I can honestly say that more graphic novels should be written with poetry.

I love a good nine-panel grid page layout. Each of the characters is assigned the same single panel in the eighteen panels across each two-page spread. This is a very creative way to tell a story, though since I was reading a digital PDF, I found it a little difficult to keep track of all the various narratives. Fortunately, the unique setting and time period of each character helped clarify the story to a certain extent. The narration is laid out in the same fashion. As a result, it can be read in different orders, either as it’s laid out across the page or from one character’s panel to their next assigned panel.

Fawkes uses a minimalist illustration style but still manages to make the most out of each panel. He plays with space and perspective, yet despite the differing images in each panel, each individual page has a visual uniformity. That being said, I did notice that sometimes the characters look a little bit misshapen. Considering how obviously well plotted and thought out the rest of the book is, I have to assume this choice was intentional on Fawkes’ part. No two people look the same in real life and I assume Fawkes was trying to reflect this in his art. Although I can appreciate the artistic choice, I did sometimes find a character’s physical quirks to be visually off-putting.

Whether it’s tracking the narration or taking in the artwork, One Soul is a book that can be, and should be, read multiple times. Fawkes weaves together eighteen perspectives into a single beautiful narrative that explores what life is all about. No two lives are the same but from birth to death, we are all connected by similar experiences. We may be different people but universally, we all share one soul. Throughout the graphic novel Fawkes stretches his creative muscles through his beautiful poetry and by drawing an expansive catalog of objects, settings, and situations. It’s a challenging read but well worth the effort. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of the One Soul Tenth Anniversary Edition when it releases on February, 23rd.

Story: Ray Fawkes Art: Ray Fawkes
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Pre-Order: AmazonZeus Comics

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