Author: Shilpa Bhongir
Held together by two staples and a lot of wit and charm, The Oxy Graphic compiles students’ original comics, graphic art and cartoons on a wide spread of topics ranging from political satire to steamy appliance romance.
“Well, it’s the hottest, newest student publication,” The Oxy Graphic Editor John O’Neill said smiling, as he leafed through pages of puns, caricatures, and black-and-white stick figures drawn in asymmetrical boxes.
On Oct. 19 they released their first issue, a simple yellow paperback introduced by the image of two fuzzy figures, meant to be the reader and The Oxy Graphic sharing a hug. The publication relies on this quirky sense of humor to catch the eyes of many students on campus. Having comics entitled “Why Did I Only Eat Half of My Sandwich” and “Save Us Mr. Sax Man!” helps too.
Later issues have developed their own themes. The second issue released just four days before the presidential election was completely political-themed. A smiling President Obama takes stage on the front cover, followed inside by pages filled with political satire, chiding Romnesia, Joe Biden and the like.
The comics can be artfully simple or also complex. Some are drawn by hand, others produced digitally.
The OG, as it is called by those familiar with the publication, is released every two weeks and can be found in dorm common rooms, The Cooler and The Green Bean. Though not officially considered a student publication by Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC), The OG runs as a student club with approved funding.
“It’s bringing a new medium for students to investigate and explore artistic opinions, whether quirky or comical,” Urban and Environmental Policy major Amber Carmi-Smith (junior) said.
The club consists of 50 students, while roughly a dozen regularly attend weekly meetings, according to O’Neill. There are at least three to four contributors who submit regularly to every issue.
The idea for creating The Oxy Graphic stemmed from O’Neill’s experience at Carleton College, where he spent his first two years of college.
“The Carleton Graphic was a way to provide students an opportunity to be creative and receive feedback from the student body,” O’Neill said. “Coming to Oxy, I realized what a great publication The Carleton Graphic was and realized how it can be used as effective storytelling.”
As the editor of The OG, O’Neill manages publicity, compiles the work using InDesign, develops a theme for the issue and administers deadlines from contributors.
O’Neill began the process of forming a club during the summer before attending Occidental College. With support from faculty adviser Raul Villa, “The Oxy Graphic” was officially approved by ASOC during the first few weeks of the fall term.
“ASOC is not a stranger to student publications, but The Oxy Graphic is the first solely dedicated to graphic shorts,” ASOC Vice President of Internal Affairs Desmend Jetton (senior) said.
While the The OG is unique in creating solely graphic pieces, it encourages contributions from all students, regardless of if they have experience drawing.
“A lot of liberal arts schools don’t have comics,” O’Neill said. “The schools that do are art schools and the comics are really beautiful, but something that we can offer here is story and how to tell a good story.”
The club began meeting within the first two weeks of the school year, and meets from 1 to 2 p.m. Sundays on the Erdman balcony.
“The purpose of the weekly meetings is to establish a community and appreciate comics as an art form, as well as an opportunity to experiment and play around,” O’Neill said.
The meetings are a place for both work and play fusing together to create each issue.
“It’s a cross between the headquarters of GQ and The Oval Office, sexy but serious,” Urban and Environmental Politics major Campbell Scott (first-year) said.
Club members gather to develop a theme for the next issue and play drawing games to help spur creativity. Sketches from these meetings often end up in later issues.
“The environment forces you to think creatively, even if you don’t think you can think creatively,” math major Kristina Chang (first-year) said. ”It’s very spur of the moment. The idea has to come to you. It’s really fun not being totally sure of what you are going to draw and messing around because the environment is unstructured; it’s what you make of it.”
The games range from telephone pictionary (one person writes a sentence, the other person draws what they think the sentence describes, and so on) to games where students randomly pick titles, often silly and nonsensical, from a hat and draw a comic to fit the title.
“I picked up a title saying ‘But Finding His Tongue Proved Elusive’ and then decided to draw a guy trying to find his to tongue as it’s dropped into a bunch of other tongues,” Scott said proudly.
Students also work together to develop ideas for joint comic strips, many which are featured in the latest issue of The OG themed “Sexccidental” which was released Nov 16 (be prepared for questionably phallic bananas and all too desperate personal ads).
“A lot of people come up to me and say, ‘I can’t draw’ and others say, ‘I have no ideas,’” O’Neill said. ”Well at the meetings, we put them together and then they create something beautiful.”
An important component of the approval for The OG was ensuring that there will be enough contributors to keep the publication running after O’Neill graduates.
“I am confident that it can continue for a good amount of time,” Treasurer of The OG Kathleen McKenzie (first-year) said. ”There are a lot of first years and people seem to be really passionate about it.”
For many of these contributors, The OG has developed into not just an outlet for creativity, but also a close-knit community.
“I like the idea of contributing art to a community,” Chang said. ”Even if it’s silly or fun, it makes someone else think deeply about that topic. I think it’s important to have a community that encourages creativity.”
The OG has been met with positive student response, according to many of the members. Most of the copies around the school have been picked up quickly.
Moving forward, The OG hopes to expand distribution if it continues to receive the same positive feedback from the student body. O’Neill also plans to create a website to reach more students with the candid and original creativity of this growing community on campus.
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