On Friday afternoon at Emerald City Comicon, Oni Press editor in chief James Lucas Jones, editors Charlie Chu and Robin Herrera, director of publicity John Schork, and creators including Cullen Bunn, Rick Spears, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Justin Greenwood and Greg Rucka discussed the company's current releases, the show's debuts and books launching this summer and early next year.
The first book discussed was "The Life After" by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo, which launches in July but preview issues will be available at WonderCon.
"It's about a guy who's living the most mediocre day of his life over and over," said Fialkov said of the title character, who lives the textbook definition of a mediocre life. "The book starts the day he talks to this girl. The life is not the world he thought it was … It's a funny, weird portrait of this mashup of all different religious versions of what the afterlife is."
Fialkov -- under questioning -- admitted that there are plenty of famous dead people in the book and one of them, Ernest Hemingway, goes with the title character on this adventure in the afterlife.
Also set for July is the hardcover graphic novel "I Was The Cat" by Paul Tobin and Benjamin Dewey. Editor Robin Herrera joked that she's become the person at Oni who has worked on all the cat books. "This one is especially for people who look at their cats and wonder why they spend all day sleeping and think that there must be something else going on in their heads and are plotting horrible things," she said.
Schork explained that the cat spends nine lives plotting world dominion in a variety of ways. "I don't like cats but I love this book a lot," Schork said. "It confirms my hypothesis that cats are inherently evil."
In August, Oni releases Ray Fawkes' "spiritual sequel" to his graphic novel "One Soul," "The People Inside." Summer will also bring a new "Sixth Gun" miniseries titled "Days of the Dead" drawn by Mike Norton. The five issue miniseries serves a prequel to Cullen Bunn's "The Sixth Gun."
"This story follows Brother Roberto, who has featured prominently in 'The Sixth Gun' and Jessup, who is one of the major villains of the series. We find out that before the first issue of "The Sixth Gun" they crossed paths and this is that story," Bunn said. "There are a lot of threads in this miniseries which answer some unanswered questions from the main book."
In September, "Meteor Man" from Jeff Parker and Sandy Jarrell -- which Schork described as "'Close Encounters' meets 'Stand by Me,'" -- is set to debut. Although the two have worked together on a few issues of "Batman 66," this book's premise is markedly different, with a plot concerning an alien invasion and a group of friends.
Also in September comes "Mermin, Book 3: Deep Dive" by Joey Weiser. The book, a favorite at the Oni offices, features the first chance to see Mer, where Mermin comes from and introduces the character's little sister, Merma.
"It's a fun book, but it's great for kids," Bunn said explaining that he tries to instill a love for comics with his five year old son but it's hard to find comics he can let his son read. "Mermin" is one they both love.
In September, Greg Rucka's "Stumptown" ongoing series launches drawn by Justin Greenwood and colored by Ryan Hill.
"We're having fun," Rucka said, explaining the plan was for "Stumptown" to be a series of miniseries with a few months break in between, which didn't work out. "So far we're having a blast. It's allowing for some different tonal stuff. We haven't really seen Dex take something personally and we get to see angry Dex -- not frustrated Dex, not downtrodden Dex. Normally when life slaps her she sits back and grins." He explained that the arc he's writing now would likely feature a gun in her hand by the end of it. "She is a character who does not take up a weapon unless she intends to use it."
Rucka also teased that, "the arc after [the first arc] is still untitled, but you get to meet her family -- people who think naming a kid Dexedrine is a good idea."
The panel joked that October was a celebration of Cullen Bunn -- though Bunn emphasized that these are not books to give to your kids. "Brides of Helheim" started as a joke, Bunn said of the book that reunites him, artist Joelle Jones and colorist Nick Filardi to tell the Viking-era Frankenstein story. "We get to see these witches who set Rikard on his path. We meet the person who made them what they are and it goes very bad very quickly," Bunn said. "And Rikard fights a bear."
The same month also features the debut of "Hellbreak" by Bunn, artist Brian Churilla and colorist Jordie Bellaire. Bunn joked that the two are not linked. He pitched both titles to Oni at the same time, figuring that he wouldn't be able to sell both to them and after he did, they couldn't think of better titles.
In December, "Ciudad," co-created by Joe Russo and Anthony Russo, the directors of the highly anticipated "Captain America: Winter Soldier," and written by Ande Parks. "It's a super, crazy violent homage to action movies," said Chu. "It's about a world weary mercenary who has to go to one of the worst places on Earth and pull the teenage daughter of a drug lord out of jail and fight off pretty much everyone."
"It was written by a very talented writer, Jake Almand, who died last fall and didn't get to see it," said Jones. "It's a very emotional book for us."
Looking ahead to 2015, writer Jamie S. Rich has a new graphic novel, "Ares and Aphrodite," drawn by Megan Levens, which was described as a modern day homage to screwball romantic comedy involving a divorce lawyer and a wedding planner.
Another 2015 release is "Junior Braves of the Apocalypse" written by Michael Tanner and Greg Smith and drawn by Zach Lehner, which Chu described as "like Goonies but with teeth." The book involves a group of scout-like junior braves who return from a weekend camping trip to find the world has been ravaged by an apocalypse. "It's hopefully the first in a series about growing up and these eight to eleven year olds turning into men over time," Chu said.
"And over a pile of dead bodies," Schork added.
On stands now is "The Auteur" written by Spears and drawn by James Callahan, involving a Hollywood filmmaker coming off a huge flop.
"He's trying to figure out some crazy way to get back on top using hallucinogenic drugs and bad choices," Spears said. "He's going to make this outrageous horror film called 'Presidents Day' and hire a serial killer to give it authenticity."
Schork praised the comic's ridiculousness and said, "There isn't anything else out there like this."
Debuting at ECCC is "Black Metal Volume 3" by Rick Spears and Chuck BB, which Jones praised as wrapping up the series in a very satisfying way.
"When we first started working on this, Chuck [said], 'We should do three books,'" Spears said. "I said, 'Let's do one,' but we did the first book and I tacked on a cliffhanger. We're really pleased how it came out. It's hard to talk about because if you read the second one, the brothers are dead. Chuck drew the hell out of it. He hit it out of the park."
Although not discussed at length, the panel did show a black and white preview of Ted Naifeh's upcoming series "Princess Ugg," which debuts this summer with an early preview at WonderCon in April.