This is my first-ever blog and I'm hoping to hell that I know what I'm doing. I'm the writer/artist/creator of the Image autobiographical series, TRUE STORY, SWEAR TO GOD. I also write every now and then for Marvel and Bongo, which has been such a great experience.
I never went to college. I'm someone who barely graduated high school. During those school years, my parents were dying from cancer, so the urge to do well in school sort of disappeared. The fact that I even HAVE a diploma is a miracle. I had teachers who were extremely sympathetic to my issues and a few of them passed me without me taking a final. This was back when teachers were allowed to care more about the students than the budget.
I took a long road to make comics. While I was trying to figure out what to do with my art, I was told that it was a pipe dream. Needless to say, while I was watching all my friends go to college and begin careers, I was feeling lost, with a feeling that what I wanted to do would never materialize.
I bounced around from job to job while drawing on my own time. I worked at a bank, a coffee house, hotels, McDonald's (a great job, actually... great boss), a singing telegram place (worst. job. ever.) and then finally at a newspaper building ads.
At that job, the city editor discovered he had no photos for a front-page story on shark hunting story because someone opened the door to the darkroom and blew-out the negatives. I suggested an illustration, but they said there was no time. I told him I could knock it out in twenty minutes and he looked at me and said "Really? Okay, go for it."
Fifteen minutes later, the art was ready for the page and it went to press. The editor then walked into the publisher's office and told him that he wanted me to move from mindless ad-building, to the editorial department where I'd be a page designer and illustrator. That's where the switch was flipped and my dream took off.
I did page designs, full-page illustrations and even political cartoons during my stint at the paper. I blossomed as an cartoonist and loved everything about that job. At the time I owned the rights to all my work, because they were created at home, but after my editor left for another paper, everything began to turn ugly. The main editor began to tell me how to write my political toons and when I resisted that, he would tell me that the paper owned everything I did.
I left that place for the newspaper in the next town.
From there I got a free trip to Disneyworld to cover the opening of the Animal Kingdom park. While I was there, I met a Puerto Rican woman named Lily Garcia at a bus stop and we exchanged emails. After a year of travelling back and forth between Napa Valley and Puerto Rico, I moved to PR to live with Lily.
She gave me the courage to self-publish my own comic book series. None of this could've happened without her love and support.