What’s a better way to start off the new year than with newly published comic books? Ooligan Press is a student-run book press within the Publishing Master’s program at Portland State University. The press has been known to publish fiction, non-fiction, YA, memoir, and self-help books. However, the press may have the opportunity to publish its first comic-book! This will not only benefit the publication, but as well as the students that work within the press.
I interviewed with Ooligan’s current acquisition editor, Alena Rivas, to get a further insight into this possible acquisition and to understand what kind of support the Ooligan will need in its process.
Q & A
[Q] What made Ooligan Press want to acquire a comic-book? How will this be different from other books acquired?
[A] In early 2022, while I was working as an assistant within the department before I became an Acquisitions Editor, we were approached about the possibility of acquiring a comic book about homelessness among students at PSU. The author ultimately went in another direction, but the idea of taking on a book in this format, especially with important social implications and invaluable learning opportunities for our press, stuck with me.
Later that summer, a friend of mine who had been conducting research on disaster documentation forwarded me . . . the proposal for this disaster preparedness comic book he’d come across and thought it might be a good fit for us. I was thrilled for several reasons. One, Ooligan has never published a book in this format before, so from a design and editorial standpoint especially, it presents tremendous learning opportunities—and two, it also fits well with our mission of publishing regionally significant works. . .
The most important draw for me though, is that while this book would appeal to many, getting young people (the target audience) involved in preparedness through this engaging and entertaining medium [with] informative, interactive content; truly has the potential to save lives in the event of a disaster. Young people are often underestimated, but they have more power and influence than they get credit for. It would be amazing if Ooligan could be a part of equipping them with such a consequential tool.
[Q] What kind of support will the press need in order to make this book a reality? How can Portland State students help?
[A] Right now, our biggest hurdle to overcome is the cost of the art. Artists deserve to be fairly compensated for their work, but for the work required, the cost far exceeds Ooligan’s budget. That is why we have begun a fundraising campaign seeking donations from previous donors, alumni, and members of the community. That is the nature of a small, independent, not-for-profit learning press: we simply cannot acquire it if we cannot secure the necessary funds, in this case; to pay the artist.
Portland State students can help by following Ooligan Press on our social media sites to spread the word and share our posts requesting donations for this project. They can also make a donation to Ooligan Press for this project through the PSUf Foundation’s donation page.
[Q] What does this comic-book entail?
[A] This book is to be an approximately 100-page illustrated guidebook providing preparation and survival guidance for disaster events such as earthquakes and the resulting hazards like floods, fires, landslides, and structural collapses. It contains preparation lists, activities, and quizzes, and delivers vital information through stories portrayed by a diverse cast of characters.
The final chapter is a compilation of local resources for further research as well as emergency services. The author, Henry Miller, is a writer and urban planner who has conducted extensive research and teamed with local disaster organizations to ensure the accuracy and efficacy of the guidance presented in the book.
[Q] What are you most excited about regarding this comic book and what kind of opportunities will it bring to Ooligan?
[A] While I’ve begun doing preliminary editorial work on the manuscript, the next Acquisitions Manager would have the opportunity to developmentally edit both the text and the images together, which has never been done at Ooligan before. The author has lined up a renowned local artist to produce the illustrations, which is exciting. This will also provide designers the opportunity to practice laying out the interior of a graphic novel-style book. It would also be an interesting challenge to produce a digital version. In terms of marketing, we would have opportunities to partner with organizations like public schools and emergency service agencies to get this book into as many hands as possible.
I think the most exciting part of this project (and there are so many) is that the author is so dedicated and passionate about his work. He has been a dream to work with so far, going above and beyond what has been asked of him, and I anticipate that once we were able to offer a publication contract, that enthusiasm would grow exponentially.
There is just so much potential for this book in terms of what it could accomplish for public safety and as a learning experience for all our students, especially those interested in pursuing careers in comics publishing after graduation. I really hope we are able to acquire it.
If you would like to help make this comic-book reality, click the donation link or follow the Ooligan Press on social media! Join us in effort to commemorate and support the new upcoming local artists and presses.