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After several layoffs and exits, Oni Press loses three senior-most employees

Steve Ellis, Brad Rooks, and Hilary Thompson have left Oni Press
Oni Press
Oni Press

The three senior-most figures within the Portland-based comic/games company Oni Press have departed in the past few weeks. Vice president of games Steve Ellis, director of operations Brad Rooks, and senior graphic designer Hilary Thompson.

Popverse has confirmed that Oni Press' primary liaison in its parent company, Polarity's VP of portfolio operations and executions Rick Johnson, has become acting president in the past few months - taking over from past president (and also publisher) James Lucas Jones, who was terminated in June 2022.

Since the beginning of 2022, over a dozen Oni employees have either left or been laid off from the company, cutting the company's staff of roughly 30 in half. Outward signs of this upheaval began in June with news of the termination of Jones and excecutive VP of creative & business development Charlie Chu.

Back in August, a source within the company told Popverse that parent compay Polarity Polarity was consistently demanding greater profitability from Oni-Lion Forge, prompting a series of layoffs that resulted in what was described as “an ongoing battle that was eventually resolved by firing the person [James Lucas Jones] trying to keep layoffs from happening.”

Following the exit of Jones and Chu, Polarity laid off an additional four staffers.

In a statement from Oni Press after those six layoffs, it said the "recent personnel changes at Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group were made with the sole purpose of evolving the company and brand, and positioning it for long-term success."

Oni's associate publisher Michelle Nguyen left the company shortly after, telling Popverse "it definitely feels like the right time."

Stay with Popverse for more on the developing Oni Press story.

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Chris Arrant avatar

Chris Arrant

Editor-in-Chief

Chris Arrant is the Popverse's Editor-in-Chief. He has written about pop culture for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, Newsarama, TOKYOPOP, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. (He/him)

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