Following Oni Press and Lion Forge Comics’ announcement on Wednesday that comic book publishers would be merging into a single entity, the companies have now begun layoffs across both publishers.
In a previous New York Times article announcing the merger, it was noted that Lion Forge Comics co-founder David Steward would be examining staff levels following a combination of their assets:
“The merger will combine assets from both companies and require an examination of staff levels — just over 20 at Lion Forge and just under 20 at Oni. ‘We’re going to take a look at efficiencies and identify a number of areas of growth as well,’ Mr. Steward said.”
The same day, the first results of the ‘examination’ were made public, as numerous employees announced that they had been laid off in the wake of the merger, including Lion Forge Comics Associate Editor Christina “Steenz” Stewart:
Can’t say anything about the merger. But I’ll be looking for freelance work soon. Stay tuned and thanks to everyone reaching out so far.
— Steenz! @ Comicpalooza #3551 (@oheysteenz) May 8, 2019
VP Editor-in-Chief at Lion Forge Andrea Colvin announced they had left.
It’s true. https://t.co/ywZz0vLhey
— Andrea Colvin (@arocolvin) May 9, 2019
Oni Press Associate Editor Desiree Wilson:
I, the only black person at Oni, just got sacked. So if you want to know if Oni cares about marginalized and POC folx, there’s you’re answer. https://t.co/cvFMcJdTyI
— desiree ~bisexual lighting and murder~ (@swindlesoiree) May 8, 2019
Oni Press Warehouse Assistant Scott Sharkey:
So, I’m one of the people who got sacked in the wake of the clusterfuck @OniPress merger. If anyone knows anyone in need of a slightly used writer/editor/carny/accountant/bartender/warehouse monkey/blackjack dealer it’d be appreciated.
— Scott Sharkey (@evilsharkey) May 8, 2019
And, according to Eternity Girl writer Magdalene Visaggio, Oni Press Director of Publicity Melissa Meszaros:
I’d like to especially single out @melissmeszaros, who was Oni’s Director of Publicity. She was a delight to work with on MORNING IN AMERICA, always responsive, always eager, always kind.
— magdalene visaggio 🏳️🌈 (@MagsVisaggs) May 9, 2019
Others indicated they couldn’t say much about the merger, but would share updates soon.
Lion Forge Comics Senior Editor Amanda Meadows:
Hey buds, I can’t say much about the merger. Not sure what will happen with me yet! Thanks to those who’ve reached out — I love y’all and hope to share more with ya soon ❤️
— Amanda Meadows @TCAF (@amandonium) May 8, 2019
Lion Forge Comics Editor Jasmine Amiri:
Thank you to everyone who has reached out, truly. I’m not sure what the future holds for me or how the chips will fall during this merger. But I will share more info as soon as I am able to.
— Jasmine Amiri (@JasAmiri) May 8, 2019
Speaking with Publisher’s Weekly, Lion Forge Comics publicist Jeremy Atkins confirmed that there had been “staff reductions”:
“Some Lion Forge staff, he said, were offered positions “within the Oni structure” in Portland and others were offered positions “within the Polarity umbrella,” which encompasses a number of companies. In addition, he said “some positions were eliminated outright or consolidated.”
ClownFish TV provides more insight.
These layoffs were highly criticized, as many believed that these layoffs flew counter to Oni Press and Lion Forge Comics’ promotion of their ‘commitment to diversity’:
“could?” an inclusive mantra COULD apply??? it NEEDS to, oni. this move does not look great, especially how it comes after a week of you letting go your last black editor on staff.
it doesn’t look great considering portland’s history/climate to POC, since you’re staying there. pic.twitter.com/gn6yIQdII0
— ✨EX HYE 🔜 VANCAF D16✨ (@explodinghye) May 8, 2019
I look that this Oni/Lion Forge merger (acquisition) and all the people, especially queer POCs kicked out on the street and im reminded of my own job’s moratality. Comics are a medium for creativity and visual storytelling, not the an upgrade to the Hollywood money machine. pic.twitter.com/uYGd3mHbUA
— S. Allise Wilson ✨ (@blinkfraid) May 9, 2019
Take note that @OniPress unceremoniously dumped queer people and POC all in one day. I’ve heard it said that the blackest part of Portland are the dreadlocks worn by white dudes. Sounds like there’s some truth to that. https://t.co/jMtBjtYTHG
— Winterfell Couples Therapist (@Magzdilla2early) May 9, 2019
When asked for comment by The Beat (itself owned by Polarity, the parent company of Lion Forge Comics) Oni/Lion Forge Comics provided a statement regarding this wave of layoffs:
“While we do not comment on personnel matters, we do wish everyone who has worked within our organizations nothing but continued success in their careers. It is worth noting that Lion Forge and Oni each bring impressive track records of championing under-represented creators and fans with inclusive, authentic content. By combining our efforts, we get to do that powerful and important work at a whole new level, with a diverse and experienced management team, and with the leadership and ownership team that is a majority people of color. Stay tuned.”
What do you make of the layoffs following the merger? Do you think this is good news for the comic book industry?