Jamie Rich is the editor-in-chief of Oni Press, who've published such artbomb.net perennials as QUEEN AND COUNTRY and FORTUNE AND GLORY. Oni Press is one of the smartest and most diverse commercial publishers in comics, running a small, eccentric list of projects ranging from adult political thrillers to 80s high-school romances and children's books. He's also written a book called CUT MY HAIR. I make him talk pretty one day:
Why are you working in comics? Could you not get a proper job? What is it about the medium?
Well, there actually is an element of it being me not being able to get a proper job. My dad always said that with this haircut, no one would hire me. Initially, it's something I sort of stumbled over. There they were -- comics laying drunk in the street -- but what keeps me here right now is the sort of unfettered creative freedom. I'm not sure if you can go anywhere else and have the kind of true expression independent comics currently enjoy. I hope we can avoid commodifying it. Many are trying right now... I even feel the pinch myself, to turn what I do into a sellable thing. But as long as there are pens and paper, I think some crazy fellow is going to take advantage.
Although everyone knows how long it takes to get a movie made, or a single recorded, no one really hears about the production process of comics. How long -- and take an average, sure -- does it take for Oni Press to get a book from conception to the shelf?
Well, the true process, if it were a color comic book, and if everything is ideal, would take nine months per issue. Like a baby. But for small press, we aren't always so lucky, as we can't always put out the cash for the early stages of a project and let it take it's time. I think for us, though, it's often around four to six months from conception to getting the first issue on the stands.
What sort of people read Oni Press books, do you think? Do you think you hit a particular audience, like an indie label, or do you wield the broad brush of a book publisher now?
I think there is a core of fans that are a bit indie, a bit peculiar, who walk less accepted walks -- but I don't think you can boil us down so easy. We do attract a broad audience. BLUE MONDAY, for instance, gets a lot of older men, and even women in their '30s or '40s who remember their '80s high school days. Paul Dini, Greg Rucka, Guy Davis, Judd Winick -- these are folks who pull in readers from all walks of life. Then again, like an indie label, there are some people who will buy anything with our brand on it. And those tend to be the silly looking folks. Lots of loveable characters with thick Buddy-Holly glasses.
What graphic novels do you keep close and never want to lose?
Gosh. GRENDEL: DEVIL'S LEGACY by Matt Wagner & the Pander Bros., RED ROCKET 7 by Mike Allred, USAGI YOJIMBO: GRASSCUTTER by Stan Sakai, the work I have done with Andi Watson and Chynna Clugston-Major, BERLIN: CITY OF STONES by Jason Lutes, THE DEATH OF SPEEDY by Jaime Hernandez. Pete Milligan's SHADE THE CHANGING MAN is about one of the only things I kept as single issues after a recent move. Those're what leap off the top of my head.
What are you listening to in the office these days?
Right now I am playing my own compilation of Gorillaz b-sides, earlier it was the new Beth Orton. Lots of N*E*R*D, Kelis, and Neptunes production, in general. The new Primal Scream single, "Miss Lucifer," is an amazing kick in the ass. Low live in Paris in 1999. My ears like to keep moving.
THE FAKE FAKE SOUND
I haven't heard the new single from Mika Bomb yet, but I'm still using previous single "Heart Attack" like it's drugs. Three girls and two guys from Japan and Britain, based in London and making guitar music the way people think The Strokes and The Hives are. You can't help but fall for a band who make songs called "Super Sexy Happy Razor Girls." Or, at least, I can't. I have a weakness for that sort of thing.
And, you know:
- I saw you at the station
I think I looked at your bum
Cos I've been looking for someone I can talk to
Come on. You know you want to. I swear she's singing "I get a heart attack/ A fucking heart attack/ Over you." I don't care what their fan site lyrics section says… Anyway, it's glorious. There's no pretension to it, none of the Strokes' knowingness, none of the Hives' proficient-pub-band dull tightness. It just kicks off the doors with big Tank Girl boots and gobs on you. Sweetly.
http://www.mikabomb.com/ is what you're looking for. And you can buy their stuff from http://www.damagedgoods.co.uk if all else fails. I have.