Continued from A little history ( part 1 )…
Its that last few years I really want to talk about here so I am gonna need a little flashback to the summer of 1991 here…
wee ooh weee ( a silly flash back noise )
I had just finished my first year at BU and I was back home for the summer. I had the best year of my life both academically, socially as well as athletically ( Rowing ). Everything was about what my life had in store for me… the pursuit of happiness, it was all so clear to me… However, this opening of my mind also created a clarity about my father’s alcoholism. My Dad was trying to drown the pain of the terrible times in his life and he was taking it out on us, his family and I was no longer willing to tolerate his verbal abuse. This created a serious rift between me and my father all summer ( lots and lots of fights ). Eventually it came to a head one night and well it didn’t go well for me… I had no more funds for my tuition.. I wasn’t going back to school. I was going to have to figure it out for myself… not good.
I moved out of the house and into an apartment that was attached to back of a hobby shop in a bad section of the town next ours. It was all I could afford at the time ( $200/month )… delivering pizzas for Pizza Hut was not as lucrative as I would have liked. Time passed and I tried to draw as much as I could.
The next year I entered school again… I had obtained a scholarship that would at the very least pay for tuition, room and board. Spending money for cloths, books misc was up to me. I was incredibly happy to be back in school… I was back on track and having success again. And for the next year an a half I did nothing but paint, sculpt and row. After such a tough year I was happy again, I was capturing life and making it mine. Then.. I fucked up… big.
I was having great difficulty with one class… art history. Even though I like art history, the class itself required strength in the two things I was most lacking…
1. Memorization: I have a learning disability called APD or Auditory Processing Disorder, specifically, Auditory Sequential Disorder. Basically, its a problem with learning stuff through verbal means. It does nothing for me. I need to be able to see it in my mind in order for it to “stick”. ( Huh, now that I think of it, I repeat the alphabet while running a movie of the letters through my head like a ticker tape… huh. )
2. Slide Projector: That damn slide projector!!! I cannot resist its sandman abilities!! The humming could put me to sleep within in seconds. That thing is my kryptonite!
This class in particular required 100’s of memorizations of artist, date, period and name of the paintings all in a class that lectured with a slide projector every day! The chips were stacked. I failed the class… Once I knew this, I also knew I had no more scholarship. I knew, at that point, I had no way to attend BU anymore. The blew a hole in the boat and was way too big to mend, I was done.
When I moved back to my hometown, I can’t say that I did it with any sort of anger. it was really more sadness and resignation, after all it was my dad’s fault, he’s been the Achilles heel to my life, if he wasn’t an alchoholic I would still be in school!
By this point my mom had divorced my Dad and moved out on her own. I moved into the bedroom upstairs and went to work for Dominos. Delivering pizzas again…. bleh. I did that for next year. As the months went by I started to feel the regret… I started to realize what I had really done… to myself. The “disadvantages” were really just excuses. The reality was, I didn’t study enough. Even though, I know that it takes me three times as long to study for a test like that, the reality was, I could still do it. It was within my capabilities. I failed because I didn’t try hard enough. Plain and simple. And well the regret grew. Slowly anger ( the good kind, the motivated kind! ) replaced that regret and built and built… until finally I ready to grab life by the ear and make it mine.
I vowed to get back to drawing more seriously again and hell or high water go back to school to finish my degree. That fall I applied to the university of Connecticut. It took a few restarts and a whole lot of borrowing to pay tuition but by Spring 2000, I graduated college ( with two proud semesters on the Deans list in there )… and $43,000 of debt.
Finally I was ready to start my career as a comicbook artist. For the next six months I struggled with part time jobs and sporadic comic work. It was tough and I ate ramen a lot, but I was able to do it. Then… my student loan payments kicked in… $360 a month. Ouch… considering I was only making $10,000/year and I didn’t have any health insurance that was the last straw.
I finally caved in and decided I needed to start working a “real” job. Part-time at first. I thought, “I can just make comics at night, no problem!” I got a job doing help desk for a now defunct .com company. I quickly learned html and webdesign, which then graduated to web design and programming, which led to another job doing web design, development and database work, which led to another job doing database administration ( notice the transition from creative to … data… bleh ). And up until 2 years ago I more or less enjoyed learning about computers… but in the back of my mind, I knew… I KNEW it was not what I wanted. That whole time I never stopped drawing. Never looking for the promotion and really avoiding any extra responsibility at work. I was still dreaming up stories and characters while I watched the clock for the magic number five to roll in. My passion was still calling me… ever so softly, by it was there all the time.
I tried starting my own comic again and again but it always seemed like I was restarting it, or I lost interest and the project was just too big for me to do part-time. But in reality, I was half-assing it. Going after something with the mindset of “I will do this part-time” is like saying “I’ll just do half”, you leave too much to chance this way. If I wanted to do this, really do this and MAKE it happen, I needed to go after this all out. It wasn’t until about two years ago until I finally realized that. Maybe it was the encroaching middle age that gave it a little push… but finally it was clear to me.
wee ooh weee ( a silly flash forward noise )
So, here I am, after two years of hard work, contracts in hand, on the cusp of becoming what I was meant to be… a comic book creator. My past will becomes my history, regrets become lessons learned and a sum becomes greater than its parts. And as of September 1st 2008, I will go to bed dreaming of what worlds will come to be…