Protest poster by incarcerated San Quentin artist O. Smith
Illustration by O. Smith

Throughout 2020, the coronavirus ravaged San Quentin State Prison, resulting in the deaths of 28 residents. Hearing misinformation on corporate news outlets and from prison officials, I had to pivot from the comfort and pleasure of comic book creation to expose, through illustrated journalism, the blatant lies, injustice and human rights abuses.

I have no grand illusions that my art will create a revolution, but I hope it will transform a person’s thoughts and perception to a more balanced narrative.

— An excerpt from O. Smith’s artist statement, August 2022. It has been slightly edited for clarity.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

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O. Smith

O. Smith is an illustrative journalist, graphic artist and comic book creator. He was born and raised in south central Los Angeles, and is serving a 250-year sentence under the Three Strikes Law at San Quentin State Prison.