Monday afternoon writer/co-creator of "Deep Sleeper" sent the following open letter to readers about the publishing status of his and Mike Huddleston's moving of the title from Oni Press to Image Comics.
Our relationship with Oni came to an end recently when all parties failed to reach an agreement regarding film rights to the series. Oni decided to end our publishing agreement and allowed Mike and me to start fresh with a new publisher. I'm aware that even the slightest loss of momentum can doom an independent comic book in today's market, and I hope those of you who enjoyed the first two issues will follow the book to its new home. In the end, we're asking you fine people to hang in there a couple more months for issue three than originally planned. I apologize for the delay, and promise that the conclusion to the series will be worth the wait.
Although I'm sad to leave Oni this way, I couldn't be happier with the welcome we've received at Image. Eric Stephenson and the gang at Image went above and beyond with getting Deep Sleeper up and running in record time. Mike and I hope this is just the beginning of a long and happy relationship with the publisher.
I have nothing but gratitude for the opportunities Oni gave me as a new writer and my time there will be remembered fondly. I think Oni makes some of the best books in the business, and the probably the saddest part of this whole thing for me is that I won't be getting Queen and Country or Love Fights for free any more.
On another, smaller, issue: #2 shipped with a production error that adversely affects the story. Sharp eyed readers will notice that page 24 has no dialogue or lettering of any kind. Although not an earthshakingly important page, it does provide some nice insight into the characters. The 64 page Image edition of the first two issues will print a corrected version of this page.
Thanks for your patience,
Phil Hester 4/11/04
Later Monday afternoon Oni Press Publisher Joe Nozemack issued the following statement in response to the announced move.
These kinds of situations are always hard and the decisions never come easy. We moved forward with the publishing plans for Deep Sleeper under the impression that we were also going to be representing the film and TV rights for the property, much as we had done on Phil Hester and Mike Huddleston's first comic with us, The Coffin. We have a very standard deal for media rights, and it is one that we feel is more lucrative for the creators than deals at other publishers that also retain such rights. To offer one group of creators a better deal would be unfair to other writers and artists in our stable, especially the ones with higher sales and who publish more titles with us. Deep Sleeper was underperforming in comparison to the previous series, The Coffin, and considering that we had already made scheduling and budgeting concessions to get the project moving forward, we decided it would not be in Oni's best interest to publish the remainder of the series. We decided to release Phil and Mike from their contract and allowed them to take the series to another publisher.
Phil and Mike are incredibly talented guys and we wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors. We're glad to see that Image has picked up the title, because we'd rather the fans get to see the end of the story than not.
We appreciate our fans patience and understanding on this issue. There are a lot of big things going on here at Oni that will be announced soon. 2004 has started off as an incredible year that is only going to get better. We want to thank the great group of creators, retailers, distributors and fans that make it possible for us to continue to publish our diverse and unconventional line of books.
Publisher – Oni Press