We had the good fortune of connecting with Josh Oaktree and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Josh, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
Sometimes, adversity leads to adventure.
When the pandemic hit, I found myself in a bit of a professional crisis. My background is in screenwriting, and my writing projects were on hold or over. I’m sure you remember April of 2020 and the abundance of time on our hands. Well, somewhere between binging Tiger King and not doing a sourdough starter, I had time for self-reflection. That time allowed me to think about what stories I wanted to tell.
Growing up, I considered Snoopy and Calvin & Hobbes to be some of my best friends, and my love of them grew into a love of graphic novels. Looking back, it makes perfect sense that I’d start a company to make comics for kids.
At Oak Tree Comics, our focus is on socially and environmentally responsible storytelling. Why focus on impact? I believe the best stories entertain while opening our eyes to a more empathetic world.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What am I most proud of? We just published our first book at Oak Tree Comics. It’s called Do You Speak Tree? I’m proud of it…
Because it stands up for its ideals. We partnered with One Tree Planted, a non-profit 501-(c)(3), so every book sold plants a tree.
I’m also proud, a bit selfishly, because I think our artist Josiane Vlitos did a gorgeous job. Also, because I wrote the story. In many ways, the book feels like a culmination of my early years as a writer.
When starting out, writers are often told to find their “voice.” If you’re a creative, I say forget “voice.” Focus on “passion.” For years, in search of voice, I failed to do the inner work to actually discover what I was passionate about. I wrote stories around “interests.” But “passion,” I think, is tantamount with purpose.
For today, I’ve made my purpose to use imagination to inspire. I tend to be quieter than these blocks of text suggest, so my purpose or challenge for myself is to use my voice to help the communities around me. I love nature, so I do my best to advocate for it and for environmental and social justice.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love LA for its outdoor adventures. I think the natural world in and around the city are so underrated. People say stuff like, “LA is great because you’re never more than an hour from the beach and the mountains.” But that undersells it. The city has so many great outdoor adventures. Here are some I love:
FOR HIKERS AND RUNNERS
* Griffith is by far my favorite because it’s so close to home. I recommend the Old Zoo Trail up to Bee Rock.
* Vasquez Rocks in Aqua Dulce. I went for my first time a few weeks ago. Can’t wait to go back!
* The Purple Stones in Malibu. Take the tunnel of time. Amidst a creek, you will discover awesome climbs.
* Stoney Point. This is where bouldering was invented.
A lot of these places, unfortunately, have graffiti and litter. If you’re reading this, you probably find the trash as sad as I do. I’m trying to get better at picking up trash when I see it, which is why I’m making myself a goal of picking up at least one piece of trash per adventure.
Maybe you can join me in that goal? Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to thank all my educators. My first comics teachers were the cartoonists who inspired my love for the medium. Charles Schulz and Bill Watterson are standouts. My uncle Randall Brown is a fellow writer who deserves so much credit for nurturing my love of writing. He even gave me my first graphic novel (Goodbye, Chunky Rice by Craig Thompson. It’s still my favorite.)
So many of my teachers at Middlebury College shaped my storytelling sensibilities. I’m sending lots of positive vibes to the state of Vermont from Vermont Avenue in Los Feliz. Much gratitude also belongs up the street to the folks at AFI where I went to grad school.
Last but not least, as it was recently mother’s day, I’ve got to thank my mom. She’s the kindest teacher I know. If she says a creative project of mine is “good,” I know it’s okay. If she uses all CAPS and seven exclamation points, I know I’m onto something. That’s how sweet she is.
All images and the copyright to them belong to Oak Tree Comics, LLC 2020-2021.