The Taste of Victory

The award season has ended, everybody! We’ve got the Oscars and the Grammys, and let’s not forget our local award celebration, the Literary Arts Oregon Book Awards. As we all know, what’s a good trophy season without some juicy scandal or an incitement for institutionalized social change? The recent Oscars itself received a barrage of social criticism across all media platforms for its monoethnic selection of nominees.

Bullet point: All nominees were white.

Many people were outraged, claiming this was an example of our elitist social bias rearing its multifaceted head. Others believed the results were just a coincidental outcome of honest, well­-earned expressions of respect. Oh Hollywood, whatever shall we do with you?

But as the rain continues to fall here in the Northwest, we Oregonians tend to turn off the tube from time to time and grab a book. You know, that dusty one on the end table that you will be meaning to read. For most of this coming year. With the 2016 Oregon Literary Fellowship sticker on the cover. You will open the book, and on the inside, you will notice it was published by Ooligan Press.

That’s right everyone, Portland State University’s own Ooligan Press was just awarded the 2016 Oregon Literary Fellowship from the Literary Arts Oregon Book Awards program! The prestigious award is offered annually to honor Oregon­-based independent publishers and to support their dedication to literature with some good, old fashioned cash. Ooligan Press’s staff of students pursuing master’s degrees in the Department of English at Portland State University are highlighted by this award. Ooligan Press is the only publishing­-focused graduate program on the West Coast.

This student-­run company of writers, designers, planners, and editors leads the independent press community by teaching publishing here in the Pacific Northwest. Cherishing their seven book awards since its founding in 2001, this student­-based press has worked hard to showcase the voices of the Northwest. Presently working on the publication of six novels from local authors, Ooligan Press recently announced that they will also be initiating a research and development team for expanding publication diversity and literary inclusion. Take that, Oscars!

So with gratitude, I’d like to thank the Oregon Literary Fellowship for letting Ooligan Press know how awesome they are. And to the authors, designers, editors, printers, distributors, and everyone else who help bring everything together at Ooligan Press, I thank you. And to the most valuable treasure, the readers, whose passions support us all, I thank you. Now go spend some of that award money, Ooligan. Looks like we’re going to be needing a lot more bookmarks.

Congratulations Chris Ross!

Congratulations to Ooligan alum Chris Ross on his nomination for the Eisner Award for best publication design! Chris is nominated along with Ed Piskor for their work on the graphic novel “Wizzywig.”
The Eisner Awards are the comic book industry’s annual awards honoring creative achievement in American comic books. The awards are quite prestigious, often considered to be the comic industry equivalent of the Oscars. They are named in honor of the pioneering writer and artist Will Eisner (March 6, 1917 – January 3, 2005), who was one of the earliest cartoonists to work in the American comic book industry. In 1978, he popularized the term “graphic novel,” which is the industry standard term still in use for longer works in the comic book style that are not periodicals, as regular comic books are.
Chris Ross and Ed Piskor’s nominated graphic novel “Wizzywig” is described on the topshelfcomix.com website as follows:

They say What You See Is What You Get… but Kevin “Boingthump” Phenicle could always see more than most people. In the world of phone phreaks, hackers, and scammers, he’s a legend. His exploits are hotly debated: could he really get free long-distance calls by whistling into a pay phone? Did his video-game piracy scheme accidentally trigger the first computer virus? And did he really dodge the FBI by using their own wiretapping software against them? Is he even a real person? And if he’s ever caught, what would happen to a geek like him in federal prison?
Inspired by the incredible stories of real-life hackers, WIZZYWIG is the thrilling tale of a master manipulator — his journey from precocious child scammer to federally-wanted fugitive, and beyond. In a world transformed by social networks, data leaks, and digital uprisings, Ed Piskor’s debut graphic novel reminds us how much power can rest in the hands of an audacious kid with a keyboard.

The book’s reception has been stellar across the board, including its review from the AV Club saying, “Wizzywig is full of fascinating tidbits…passion for the subject jumps off the page, making Wizzywig both an entertaining read and a powerful argument-starter.” The book has also gotten excellent reviews from The Comics Journal (tcj.com), Publishers Weekly, Wired, and many others; and appears on Barnes & Noble’s Best of 2012 list, as well as the AV Club’s Best of 2012.
The Eisner Awards are presented at the annual Comic-Con International convention held in San Diego, California, in July. Congratulations again to Chris for the nomination, and good luck on winning the award!