Oni Press EIC Jamie S. Rich to leave publisher in 2004

Thu, November 6th, 2003 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Jonah Weiland, Executive Producer/Publisher

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In an interview with Rich Johnston in his Waiting for Tommy Column, Oni Press Editor-In-Chief Jamie S. Rich confirmed that he'd be leaving the publisher. Rich has been EIC of Oni Press since Bob Schreck left the company, moving to DC Comics, back in 1999.

"Yes, I am leaving Oni," Rich said in the interview. "It's something that has been in the cards for a while. My goal was never to be editing for so long, and it'll be ten years by the time I am actually out of the office. My heart is in writing, and I've been giving too much of myself to help other creators bring their rather wonderful dreams to life. I am sure many people are going to think I'm crazy, that I am walking away from an ideal situation--but I've got to get a little selfish and indulge the side of me that has been getting ignored for too long.

"I am excited for Joe [Nozemack, Publisher of Oni Press] and my editing colleague, James Lucas Jones. This is their chance to get out from behind my shadow, the way I got out from behind Schreck's shadow. No one realizes how instrumental these two cats have been, how it's not just me by myself. At the very worst, it will be business as usual around here; but for them, I think, they'll be able to really stretch, to exercise their creative muscles while I go off to exercise mine."

Rich later revealed that his leaving Oni won't physically happen for a long time and that when he does, he'll still be helping the company in a number of capacities.

"I'm with Oni as an actual physical presence in the office until June. Then I will remain with the boys on a freelance basis for the rest of 2004, to be available as a consultant, answering the basic questions that come up in transitions and seeing projects through to completion. It will likely include reading scripts, giving feedback, the more fun aspects of editing.

"My main priority from there is my second novel, 'The Everlasting,' which has been moving at a glacial pace, which is heartbreaking for me. I've aged well past my characters. Prose is my number-one love, and I am looking at opportunities in that world. I am also open to comics, and have a few pitches in the works. And I plan to keep doing manga rewrites for Tokyopop."

For more with Jamie S. Rich, read J. Torres interview with Rich in the May 15th Open Your Mouth

UPDATED 12:45 PM November 6th - CBR News caught up with Jamie S. Rich to learn a bit more about his decision. Rich told CBR news that there wasn't any specific moment that forced him to make this decision.

"There were far too many specific moments to count," Rich told CBR News Thursday morning. "Once you hit a point

where it's time, every little frustration reminds you of what is really going on. It's just a case of knowing it was time. I think a few times, too, the wake-up call was looking at my manuscript and seeing the last date I had worked on it, and just realizing how shameful that was."

At the moment a replacement for the EIC position as such has not been named.

"As far as a general replacement, James Lucas Jones is moving up in the ranks to a Senior Editing position for the duration of 2004. And Joe Nozemack will likely handle more books, as well. He's already editing 'Courtney Crumrin,'

and has been wanting to do more of this kind of work himself. The hinted at new hire would be more of a schedule and administrative person."

After having put this many years into the job, Rich said he had a number of favorite moments to look back on, revealing two of many for this interview.

"I'm going to pick different favorites for every interview. I am saying that now, so if someone else asks me, and I give a different answer, no one can go, 'Dude, he totally lied.'

"Maybe it was the first time Chynna drew me with an axe in my hands. It might have been 'Cheat,' just because it was my first real romance comic as an editor. There are a million to pick from."

Rich was a major presence at Oni and there might be some concern that with his exodus some of the creators the company publisher may go elsewhere. At this point in time there's no indication that's happening.

"Not as of yet. I mean, that's always a concern, of course, but we tried to touch base with most everyone before the news went out there. We missed a few, and I feel bad about that (sorry, Guy Davis!). But most of them have relationships with all of us, and know that the publishing philosophy is of one mind amongst the three. It will be business, as usual, and I think most are confident in the foundation here. It seemed the only real concern were from a few of my troublemakers who wondered who would put up with their crap now."

In his interview with Rich Johnston, the editor noted he'll be concentrating on prose work as well as some comics projects. When asked if he'd prefer to go the creator-owned route or would he be willing to do work-for-hire projects for the likes of Marvel or DC, Rich said he was "undecided" at this time.

"I want to remain open," said Rich. "It's new territory for me overall, and I am not adverse to anything. My previous pitches in the past have been to editors who have approached me about work-for-hire, actually. But if any creator-owned work comes along, Oni will be my first choice."

And now that he's got some time on his hand, one might wonder if Marvel or DC has contacted him concerning an editorial position at either company and if they did, would he accept? Rich's response was emphatic. "Not lately, and not a chance."

UPDATED 2:14 AM November 7th

Oni Press Publisher Joe Nozemack dropped CBR News a note late Thursday to further expand on Oni's plans once Rich departs the company. Nozemack echoed Rich's comments regarding a replacement for the EIC, which won't exactly be a direct replacement.

"You can't really replace Jamie, that's impossible," Nozemack told CBR News. "But we do have a new person who will be starting at the company. We're not ready to announce who he is yet, but he's someone that I've known for a very long time and he fits in really well with the Oni dynamic. Current plans are for him to join the company as Managing Editor, which means he'll be responsible for a lot of the logistics of the books going to the printer and making sure the train keeps rolling smoothly. Basically keeping an eye on the details. Right now the plan is for him to start here in April, so he'll have two months with Jamie still in the office daily. Also, James Lucas Jones will have his title changed to Senior Editor.

"Jamie is going to do some great things on the other side of the creative table. There could very soon be some out of work writers once he gets to show his stuff."

 
CBR News