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NYCC 2008: From the Back of the Catalogue to the Top of the Charts Panel

Written by: Ron Bricker


ImageMid-level publishers unite for an interesting panel discussion of what life is like in the back of Previews, behind the "Big 4": DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, and Image. After an amusing session of JFK Reloaded to start the morning right with CC2k's own Tom Sanford while panel speaker James Lucas Jones watched, followed by some jokes cracked about the insanely long title of the panel, jokingly shortening it to "We're not as Big", the panel began.

Speakers included:
James Lucas Jones – Oni
Eric Lieb – Fox Atomic
Heidi McDonald as our moderator

The floor was handed to James Lucas Jones first to discuss what it is like to be part of a small publisher, Oni Press, where he began talking about the evolution from periodicals to graphic novel. Some of Oni's books like Wasteland or Resurrection work for a monthly serial said Jones, but everything goes project by project to determine the correct format. Oni, known for black and white publishing, did announce they are starting to produce a lot more comics in a color format including a new Greg Rucka project, Stump Town, a Private Investigator book.

Eric Lieb was then asked about Fox Atomic, and how they got started, responding by saying that Fox Atomic was strictly a graphic novel publisher, no monthlies were printed.

"What is your publishing plan for 2008?" asked Heidi….

James Lucas Jones stated that 2008 is a stock pilling year for Oni Press. However, they are still putting out 4-8 titles a month, 2-3 being monthly serials, and the rest being trade paperbacks/ graphic novels.

Eric Lieb responding informing the panel that Fox Atomic has one book planned for this year and three for next year with a heavy focus on graphic novels.

Heidi then put the pressure on James about Oni's Tek Janson product, and the erratic shipping schedule. James Jones replied with, "Tek Janson is one of the only books hurt by the writing strike" because of the contracting agreement. But then informed the audience that while only one issue has been released, 4 scripts have been completed since the writer's strike ended, and work is progress. A re-release of issue #1 is planned.

Eric Lieb then took the microphone to discuss his experience with getting license approvals. Lieb had interesting things to say about movie licensed comics including book for The Hills Have Eyes and 28 Weeks Later. Probably the best info Lieb shared was the problems Lieb has experienced when dealing with the actual filmmakers and the freedom they have when approaching their graphic novel projects with the licenses. Apparently it is a very tedious process that causes headaches from time to time.
After a slight departure discussing screen-play writing vs. comic script writing, the writer's strike, and the influx in writers switching mediums, the conversations was brought full circle, returning to the publishing aspect of the comic medium.

The three panelists then discussed how there is a huge saturation of Post Apocalyptic books in the market. James Lucas Jones made a funny comment about how he wishes he could predict the future of the market, but jokingly said, "If I could do that, I would be in charge". The whole panel then joined in agreeing comedy is a great genre for the market to approach, but is also probably the hardest market to find and be successful in.

The panel was then handed to the audience for questions in which one audience member asked what it was like selling ideas to distributors for independent publishers when compared to something like DC or Marvel would go through when selling theirs.

James Lucas Jones spoke first detailing how the direct market is basically selling your comic to 300 different vendors, not including the 5 major bookstore markets. "If Borders doesn't want to put a book on their shelves, they won't put it on", Jones said, "making it very challenging for small publishers and their books.”

And with this one question, the panel concluded.

Author: Ron Bricker

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