Being Alex Milshtein – by Erick Wonderly
Recently, at the release party for the 6th issue of Art Ducko, editor-in-chief Alex Milshtein formally announced his resignation from the magazine. Since 2014, Alex Milshtein had been successfully running the relatively new publication to recognition on the University of Oregon campus.
Art Ducko, the first and only comics-based magazine on campus, is the brainchild of Alex, who arrived to find that there were no campus magazines that contained a decent amount of comics. Alex saw a niche market for a growing student comics fan base. His freshman year of 2013, he went to the head of the Comics and Cartoons Studies minor, Professor Ben Saunders, to pitch the idea of a comics magazine. He was promptly offered funding. The magazine was then born, slowly growing an initial staff.
Growing up in Portland, Alex was intrigued by comics and cartoons from an early age. Everyday he would anxiously await the newspaper for a chance to read strips such as Garfield, Dilbert, Calvin and Hobbes, and others. But Alex says that one of the most influencing materials on him was Mad Magazine, a popular American comics and satire magazine. “You could say I was a real nerd”, he said during our interview.
Alex is currently studying political science along with comic studies at the University of Oregon, and plans to graduate in the summer of 2017. He says of his university experience, “It was very positive for me. I really feel that I grew as a human being and as a person. The total of people and events I experienced helped shape me into the person I am today.”
Actually building the magazine came by faster and easier than Alex had thought, though with a lot of luck. With an Art Ducko member working for the Cultural Forum, putting on events for the magazine was not a problem, which helped in getting out the name of the magazine to the general campus public. “For a long time it seemed we could only go up.” He said. “We had a lot of initial success because we were filling that niche of fellow comics-lovers. The only down was when we got half the funding we needed from ASUO for our second issue. But other than that, things only ever improved. Things got hard, but we still kept having successes.”
“Because of Art Ducko, I gained a belief in myself”, says Milshtein. “I helped create and lead a magazine, and I was part of a strong community that cared about comics and creativity. It showed me that in terms of comics, I have a skill in motivating and bringing in artists to make quality work. My highest point in all of this was seeing the first issue come out, and knowing that I was part of a great team that put it all together.”
When asked if he plans on still being part of the comics community, he said that he would be. “I’ll try to work for another comics company to get an economic footing, but I would really like to make my own comics company.”
We all look forward to what Alex will accomplish in the future, as well as look back on his huge contribution to comics culture at the University of Oregon.