Well it’s seems like any one who gets into writing, good or bad, eventually starts to think about why they are who they are, and how they got there. Next thing you know they get all misty eyed thinking about their life, childhood, and ultimately their parents. Some curse them for making them the twisted, sick individuals who have all kinds of issues, while others gloat on their parents, saying they owe them for everything and all that. Well, I sure as hell will never tell them to their faces how good they did with us, though I happily tell them where they screwed up all the time. Not to bore my audience, as huge as it is, I will also tie this into where I am right now, sitting on a driftwood bench, swatting at some nasty red ants, staring at a storm crossing over the sea on a small island in the Philippines.
So now comes the hard part, how to start. Well it started with the unlikely union of my parents, back in the stone ages. The story goes my dad was on a date with some other woman, who he ditched when he met my mom. What that says about his chivalry, I am not sure. But clearly it was meant to be, because they are still driving each other crazy today. They felt the world was really an empty place, (they had not been to China yet) and decided to start a family. Out of that came four really strong personalities, none even remotely alike. I was the fourth baby to come out, and as I like to say, practice makes perfect, but that’s another story. Both my parents were teachers, and education was the most important thing to them. They moved to a boring town with a good school district, and started to beat it into our heads that grades were important. Even with all of us being so different, they encouraged us all to follow our dreams, as long as we got a good education. Now when you are raised with siblings that are doctors, corporate marketing chemical engineers surgeons, financial Wall Street folks who hope to rule the country, and, umm, me, the artist. You can expect some head shaking about what happened there. But they never questioned the path I took, only encouraged me to do whatever I wanted. You have to appreciate that.
At a young age my parents put the travel bug in me, possibly to their regret now. My earliest memories were of being in a station wagon with fake wood sides, back in the eighties, four screaming, abusive kids in the back, a cockapoodle, and a star stream pop up camper towed behind barreling down the road with my dad cursing. How they did this I really have no idea, the thought of it sends me to the bar. But they managed pretty well, with only an occasional slamming of the brakes, belt being pulled off, getting a public spanking in the middle of a traffic jam with my bum flashed to the world. No wonder I am known as a bit of an exhibitionist.
We traveled out west for two months like this, with five or six flat tires, and a whole lot of landscapes I did not look at as I was reading my comics. What we did see were bison in Yellowstone, bears in Montana, my first Junior Ranger badge in the Rockies, the Grand Canyon, Red Wood trees that you could drive through, and the after effects of Mt St Helen’s explosion. Everyday was an adventure, with one thing new around every corner, and I loved that. Evan though I was only four or five, those memories stay with me.
On long trips before there were dvd players, iPads, game stations, we were forced to entertain ourselves. Things like reading, playing goofy games, or the worst thing possible for anyone who can hear, singing. A fun game for the road was to spot cars with license plates from all fifty states. Damn Hawaii! Our imagination was also put into play. For me, anything that could hold ink or led was soon covered with drawings of one-eyed space man, Garfield cartoons, and wolves. When not drawing on these car trips I was reading everything I could, sometimes books way beyond my age level like Living Free.
That was not our only trip, every summer the camper would be hitched up, and the family would head off to places unknown like Canada, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Smokey Mountain’s, or the Everglades of Florida. The benefits of being teachers gave my parents their summers to spend with their kids. When I got older my father had me in the scouts, with him as a scout master. I hated the uniforms and discipline of the scouts, but my father would not let us quit till we reached the level of Eagle Scout. My brother and I both whipped through that in record time. I believe my father may be the only Scout Master to be passed by the Boy Scout trailer, which was supposed to be hitched to his car. Good thing the police had a soft spot for the scouts. I am glad I stayed with it because I got a chance to see more of the states, and do things most people had never even dreamed of, like repelling down cliffs or back packing for two weeks in New Mexico.
My mother was the level support of the family, always there when you needed her, but not always on time to pick you up. She supported all my art habits, and allowed me to be inspired by other artist by spending who knows how much money over the years on comics. Like most artists, I started by drawing many of my heroes; Superman, Batman, and Wolverine. In addition to that signing me up to private art lessons so I could hone my skills, drawing the other things I loved like wolves, eagles, and nature.
Thanks to this early introduction to travel I have been to every state in the US, numerous countries in the world, and am still going as you can tell by my blog. I am pretty sure they are regretting some of those “follow your dream” lessons of life because now they think I am crazy traveling the world, and not having kids and getting a “Real Job”.
So in the end I want to thank my parents for all the encouragement to follow my dreams no matter where they land me, and just so you know, there is a whole hell of a lot more world to be discovered. This is only the beginning.