ECCC 2011: The Oni Press Panel

If there was one panel that wasn’t about to hold back the announcements, it was Oni Press and the raft of 2011 titles on display during their presentation. Joining Director of Sales and Cory Casoni onstage were writer Greg Rucka (Stumptown, Queen and Country), artists Steve Rolston (Ghost Projekt), Brian Hurtt (The Sixth Gun), Ray Fawkes (Posessions), Sarah Oleksyk (Ivy), and color artist Bill Crabtree (Invincible, The Sixth Gun).

Casoni kicked off the presentation with the announcement that lawyer by day, nerd rapper by night Eugene WarRock has a free Oni Press Mixtape available for download on his site.

Next up, he showed a slide with the cover of the collected edition of Joe Harris and Steve Rolston’s supernatural weapons of mass destruction story, Ghost Projekt, which just hit shelves last week sporting a glow-in-the-dark cover. Rolston talked about using his clean, almost cartoony style to catch readers off-guard just before the story becomes really and truly gruesome. Casoni and Rolston also credited colorist Dean Trippe for his work on the book in realizing the muted tones of post-Soviet Russia.

After that, the discussion moved on to Sarah Oleksyk’s Ivy, a slice-of-life drama about the titular teen who tries escaping from her problems, only to realize most of them are in her own head. Interesting fact: Ivy was actually a Russ Manning-nominated webcomic before getting the print treatment.

Oleksyk is currently providing art and color for an historical fiction book with Fred Van Lente called Renaissance which is due out sometime this fall.

Oni appears to making more strides into the youth market with the introduction of a Yo Gabba Gabba hardcover anthology coming in two weeks as well as a 16-page YGG “board-format comic”—think those cardboard picture books from when you were little with comic-style panels and layouts with stories and images for very young readers. Casoni noted that the board comics would be especially hard for little ones to chew through.

In a slightly older vein, Matthew Loux’s Salt Water Taffy was returning in April with a 4th volume called “Caldera’s Revenge,” the first story in the series broken into two parts. This story pits the boys against a whale that’s menacing the seaside community. I’d like to think it’s like Orca, but you know, for kids.

Ray Fawkes showed off the first and second volumes of his Possessions about a horror little demon named Gurgazon trapped in the body of an adorable little girl, and its attempts to kill the little old lady who likes collecting ghosts for amusement. The second book is called “The Ghost Table” about a dinner party where Gurgazon attempts to terrorize the guests and it’s colored in what Fawkes describes as black, white, and “baleful blue.”

From there, Casoni showed off Oni’s Free Comic Book day offerings for this year, labeling the all-ages title “Rated free for everyone.” It’s actually a flipbook with two stories: first is Power Lunch by J. Torres and Dean Trippe about a young boy who’s told by his protective mother that he’s allergic to a variety of foods only to discover that the food’s he’s not allowed to eat give him superpowers. The other story is Vinny Navarrete and Josh Williamson’s Sketch Monsters, which features a troubled little girl who sketches out monsters to deal with all the emotions she has bottled up, only for them to burst out of her sketchpad and start terrorizing the neighborhood.

The more mature FCBD offering is Joe Harris’ Spontaneous which is actually the first full issue of a series about a duo investigating the phenomenon of spontaneous human combustion.

Greg Rucka took the mic to talk about his Portland-based P.I. comic Stumptown coming to hardcover at C2E2, with its second arc, “The Baby In the Velvet Case” not getting solicited until 4 issues are complete. Rucka acknowledged fan frustration with the first series’ erratic shipping schedule saying that both as a reader and a creator he could empathize. Also, interesting tidbit: the series is an homage to the 70’s James Garner television show The Rockford Files.

Speaking of homage, The Tooth one-shot by Cullen Bunn, Shawn Lee, and Matt Kindt will be an attempt to recreate the giant monster comics of decades past, presented as a lost comic complete with worn and battered cover, fake ads and letter pages, and faded colors.

For fans of Ted Naifeh’s Courtney Crumrin, the heroine would be returning in May in a new 72-page story.

Finally, the discussion switched over to one of Oni’s surprise hits of the last year, The Sixth Gun, which Casoni describes as “Deadwood meets Lord of the Rings.” There is, of course, more The Sixth Gun coming in 2011 in a second arc called “Crossroads,” but Casoni wanted to point out that the Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt were dedicated to keeping the book on schedule, never once missing a solicitation date since the series premiered 10 months ago during the last Free Comic Book Day.

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