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Happy 20th, Oni Press! Here’s to 20 More…

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S.W. Sondheimer

Staff Writer

When not prying Legos and gaming dice out of her feet, S.W. Sondheimer is a registered nurse at the Department of Therapeutic Misadventures, a herder of genetic descendants, cosplayer, and a fiction and (someday) comics writer. She is a Yinzer by way of New England and Oregon and lives in the glorious 'Burgh with her husband, 2 smaller people, 2 cats, a fish, and a snail. She occasionally tries to grow plants, drinks double-caffeine coffee, and has a habit of rooting for the underdog. It is possible she has a book/comic book problem but has no intention of doing anything about either. Twitter: @SWSondheimer

Here are some of the titles Oni Press has published in its first 20 years: Scott PilgrimInvader ZimMerry MenKim Reaper. The Rick and Morty adaptation.

Oni Press logo

These guys are small but mighty.

Mighty, innovative, inclusive, and really, really good at what they do, which is compile a catalog in which any comics fan would be happy to immerse herself.

They don’t seem in danger of losing steam any time soon.

Oni’s creator-loaded panel at Rose City Comic Con focused on new and upcoming books, and bad news, friends, your TBR piles are going to expand exponentially by the end of this post. Don’t give me that look; we all know it’s why you’re here.

Highlights? Of course. That’s why I’m here.

My Boyfriend Is a Bear by Pamela Ribon, Cat Farris, Saida Temofonte (April 2018)

It’s not what your thinking.

Nora’s boyfriend is an actual bear. An American Black bear to be precise.

She meets him while on a disastrous camping trip with her soon-to-be ex. Not her first break-up to be sure. And as we’re introduced to the former men in Nora’s life in quick succession, we realize there’s a reason she’s decided to broaden her potential partner horizons. They are, to a man, awful. Selfish, condescending, jerks. Which…I mean…it’s a common scenario.

Dating a bear, of course, comes with its own difficulties. Her friends have trouble understanding why Nora has picked Bear over a nice hipster with a good beard. People panic when they see the couple out shopping, and goddess forbid Bear should reach for the creamer during brunch. Nora’s mother constantly tries to manipulate her into breaking up with Bear. And then, of course, there’s the hibernation issue: now that she’s found him, will Nora survive their months apart?

Smart, witty, and oddly real despite an absolutely absurd premise, My Boyfriend Is A Bear is definitely a new-to-me favorite and I’m looking forward to whatever Ribon and Farris do next, either separately or a creative team.

(YA and up, some allusions to sex)

A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson (June 2018)

James Lucas Jones, Oni’s publisher, explained they’ve never been a company to delegate to imprints: with their focus on inclusivity and diversity, Jones said, the company has maintained a united slate; imprints, he feels, separate and parcel a readership out rather than bringing it together. The one exception to the rule is Limerence, which started as Oni’s erotica imprint and has since evolved to encompass both erotica and gender studies.

The Quick & Easy Guide To They/Them Pronouns is a fantastic little book. Written as a graphic conversation between the authors, one of whom is nonbinary and the other of whom, as friend and ally, has tried to learn everything he can about gender-neutral pronouns. Definitions are clarified, the evolution of language examined, and the importance of using proper/preferred pronouns explained both by someone who has had, and continues to have, the experience of being misgendered and someone who cares deeply about them, yet wants to make sure his responses are within the boundaries established by them.

The perfect combination of matter-of-fact statements; honest, personal moments, and an eminently accessible format, The Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns is a volume everyone should read and reread, as an introduction to gender neutral pronouns, as a refresher, and as instruction in the power of words.

(All Ages)

Made Men by Paul Tobin, Arjuna Susini, Gonzalo Duarte, and Saida Temofonte (July 2018)

Jutte Shelly, a Detroit cop who likes assault rifles and writes urban fantasy under the pen name  “Victoria Phoenix,” is apparently killed in the line of duty. Her entire team dies with her, slaughtered brutally in an alley.

Here’s the thing: Jutte’s original last name isn’t Shelly.

It’s Frankenstein. (See what he did there?) She even has a secret, creepy, dastardly, mad-scientist’s lair.

Frankensteins, though, don’t die easily, and Jutte refuses to go down without a fight. And, like her ancestors, she’s well versed in various methods of resurrection. Methods she uses on the members of her team. One of whom ends up with a lion’s head.

I don’t make the news, I just report it.

Or course, as any horror/fantasy reader knows, resurrection is never as simple as it seems and it’s sure as hell too good to be true.

The need for revenge is a foregone conclusion. But back-from-the-dead people, even ex-cops, can’t exactly march up to the police station and demand justice, can they? So Jutte et al turn to their next best option.

The mob.

I know, right?

I am definitely hoping volume 2 is in the works.


The Black Mage by Daniel Barnes and DJ Kirkland (forthcoming)

Barnes describes his open submission work as, “…if Harry Potter were the only black kid at Hogwarts and the school was secretly run by the KKK.”

That’s all I’ve got at the moment and The Black Mage‘s release has been delayed a couple of times, but I mean, honestly. Who wouldn’t want to read that story. 

In conclusion? Yes, parts of the comic industry, some very big parts, are dumpster fires. Some of the parts behind the smoke, though? They’re still pretty fantastic.