And then, there’s the lawsuit that we started with. In this day and age, it’s impossible to make any forecasts for how things are likely to turn out without being prepared to watch them utterly blow up in your face, but still: I suspect that this might not go particularly far, in the grand scheme of things. One of the reasons why Anderson and Altmann had been forced to go to a retired judge to rule on whether or not Gender Queer
was obscene prior to this was that all the non-retired judges had recused themselves
, according to Anderson, perhaps signaling a lack of desire to deal with the matter on the part of the courts. (Additionally, I simply don’t believe that Anderson and Altmann could demonstrate that the book fulfills all the legal requirements to “prove” obscenity.) As I said, though: if there’s one thing that we’ve seen over the last few years, it’s to expect the unexpected, especially when that unexpected trends towards the depressing and upsetting.
There’s a tendency to close out stories like with “Developing…” to suggest that there’s more to come; in this case, there’s so much more to come (Where will James Lucas Jones and Charlie Chu go next? Where is Tara Lehmann off to? Who will take over at Oni in their absence? Will more people be let go from the company? Will Polarity sell Oni? What’s going to happen with the lawsuit?) that that single word feels entirely unable to carry the load. Expect this one to unfold over the next few weeks and months, as more becomes known – and don’t be surprised if a lot happens quickly, either.
* The lawsuit continues the pair’s attempts to force the book to be withdrawn from sale in the state of Virginia, following an earlier request to have it be declared obscene by a retired judge
. Oni is pushing back against this new lawsuit, with a response to the initial filing arguing in part, “Considered as a whole, and further considered in the context of other literary works, Gender Queer, A Memoir
cannot, as a matter of law, be deemed obscene in accordance with free speech principles and pursuant to any clear standards… The petition in this matter grossly mischaracterizes the nature of the subject literary work, and all of the opinions stated in the petition are both irrelevant and contradicted by the content of the book taken as a whole and put into proper context.”
** At least one of those licensing deals might be in doubt in the wake of Jones and Chu’s sudden departure from the company, according to people close to the matter.
*** It did, however, provide this statement to a number of outlets earlier in the week: “Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group, LLC, recently made personnel changes and will continue in its mission of publishing groundbreaking stories by the best creators in the industry, with a focus on diverse, inclusive, and unique stories.”
**** I’m genuinely not sure what Oni actually is without its staff – the majority of its books, if not all, are creator owned or licensed material from others, outside of the Lion Forge material that was around before the two companies merged – and the loss of Jones and Chu in particular leaves a publisher that will be significantly different from the one that arguably built the reputation it currently has. While firing two of the company’s most expensive employees might make sense in terms of a dollars-in, dollars-out mindset, it feels as if it’s sacrificing what makes Oni actually valuable in the process. Then again, I’m not a publishing executive, so what do I know?