Oni Editor Robin Herrera On Diversity in Comics

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This year at San Diego Comic Con, Women Write About Comics had the chance to speak with Oni Press Editor Robin Herrera. Emily Willis sat down to talk with Robin about diversity, women’s voices in comics, and the other new titles coming from Oni next year.

I know Oni was really making waves when you guys announced that you were specifically looking for female creators and diverse characters. How did you guys to come to the great conclusion that audiences needed to see more diversity in comics?

Bonus-poster-I-m-ready-e5d70It was something we’d discussed a lot and didn’t enact until Ari came onboard. She came on as a new editor and she did some statistics about how many men we had on staff verses how many women, how many people of color we had writing comics, how many comics were about people of color or women—and this is including creators, not just people we have at the company. And when we looked at those statistics, it was staggering. We all made the decision at that point that we wanted to actively—because I think that’s the way you make changes, you do it actively—seek out these creators.

Do you see Oni continuing to pursue diversity both in terms of comics and creators in the future?

Absolutely! I think even if we did meet our goal, we need to keep working at it. It’s not just about our company. It’s about being able to represent the world around us.

What kind of advice can you give for women that are looking to either break into the comics industry or just do comics?

Honestly, the best advice is to just do it. Hone your skill! If you’re a cartoonist, make comics. If you’re a writer, write scripts, get feedback. Just keep going until you’ve really got something polished. Then start shopping around.

Oni just dropped three new titles this weekend. Can you tell me about the two you’re editing?

Over the Surface I’m editing alongside Charlie Chu. I’m excited, and it’s not just because Natalie Nourigat is a one-woman-show on that, but the story is so Miyazaki-eqsue. You know, I love Miyazaki films, as do many, many other people. And I feel like Porco Rosso is one of those great underrated ones. Over the Surface is a lot like that, but instead of a pig, it’s Nausicaa. Again, I really love that Natalie is doing pretty much everything on it herself. I like that she’s a voice that’s going to be heard. And then the other project is called The Mighty Zodiac and I’m really excited for that because I love J. Torres, the writer. He’s written a lot of books for Oni and is such a great writer that has a knack for storytelling and is great too with kids comics and adventure stuff—and this is a perfect showcase. It’s a fun adventure very much like Avatar: The Last Airbender, which is one of my favorite comics/tv shows.

It sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun! I think I speak for all of us when I say I look forward to what Oni has planned for the future! Any other final words you want to say to the Women Write About Comics readers?

Yeah! Keep writing about comics because your voices are important—OUR voices are important. And I think the louder we are, the more represented we’ll be!

Emily Willis

Emily Willis

Emily Willis is the writer of Grave Impressions, If The Shoe Fits, and Cassius. She’s been traveling the USA for three years with her fiancée, Ann, attending numerous comic and anime conventions and selling their work. You can find her work at http://www.arbitrarymuse.com or talk to her on twitter at @gicomic

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