As media falls under more scrutiny and consumers seek more representation from characters and their creators, Oni Press stands out as an example of what it looks like when the work on the page reflects the voice of the creators. Just look at their 2018 slate; with titles like My Boyfriend is a Bear by Pamela Ribon and Cat Farris and Dead Weight: Murder at Camp Bloom a murder mystery set at a weight-loss camp, Oni is publishing work that’s unique, interesting, and inclusive.
One recently released title is Sci-Fu by Yehudi Mercado. The story is set in Brooklyn in the 1980s and follows DJ Wax, a young kid who wants to be the greatest dj in the universe. That is until his scratching catches the attention of alien robots and he must become a sci-fu master to save the planet. The all-ages comic combines old-school hip-hop nostalgia, science fiction and kung-fu tropes to take the reader on a journey through the trials of first love, facing bullies and finding out who you are in the face of adversity. Mercado merges his childhood love of hip hop and martial arts and the result is something wholly distinctive. When creators are given the freedom to tell the stories that only they can tell, it shows up like this in a way that is dynamic.
The Portland-based company is mainly known for comics like Scott Pilgrim, [adult swim]’s Rick and Morty, and Nickelodeon’s Invader ZIM comics but their newer releases and those in development show a commitment to new voices in the industry. Titles like Kim Reaper by Sarah Graley and Archival Quality by Ivy Noelle Weir and Steenz, are just some of Oni’s diverse offerings. Also in development is Black Mage by Daniel Barnes and DJ Kirkland, a Black, queer Bay Area based artist. Black Mage is a fantasy comic about a Black magician at a Hogwarts-esque school that’s secretly run by the KKK. Comics that speak to the (sometimes fanstastical) realities of women, people of color, and queer folks are the future of comics and Oni is leading the charge in letting these creators speak for themselves.
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