Favorite professor? I’m a big fan of Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus (JBK). He taught my FYS, which was, unsurprisingly, about food, and was immediately sympathetic to my general geekiness. The first final paper I wrote for him was about food and comics. Since then, he’s been my religion advisor, steered me towards several courses involving animation or sequential art that I wouldn’t have found otherwise, and allowed me to write two more final papers in comic format. It’s been pretty awesome.
On becoming a cartoonist: I have a notebook in which I, maybe five years old at the time, dictated the beginning of a story. My mom dutifully took down the first paragraph; I put a matching illustration on the facing page. Then I got bored with dictating and just drew the rest. (It was an action sequence anyway; exposition would have slowed it down.)
Point is, I’ve been writing and drawing, and combining the two in some form or another, for as long as I can remember. But I never noticed the pattern until my freshman year of high school, which is when I started drawing a webcomic, And Shine Heaven Now. Then I finally realized that I had been a cartoonist the whole time, just waiting for something really big to set off the spark. Shine (a fancomic for the Japanese anime/manga series Hellsing) did the trick: the first strip was posted on June 8, 2003, and it’s been faithfully updated six days a week ever since.
Comics as a teaching tool: I’ve met lots of friends through cartooning – notably, John Baird, who wound up developing the Create A Comic Project. The CCP helps kids build English-writing skills by using comics, which are more fun to look at and less intimidating than blank notebook pages. I’ve done the art for a lot of the project’s official publications, which show how to incorporate the CCP into lessons, as well as talking about the history and mechanics of comics in their own right (a la Scott McCloud), rather than dismissing them as a stepping-stone on the way to writing prose.
Current project: The project I’m working on now is Emeralds: Hearts in Oz, a manga-esque Wizard of Oz sequel. Featuring lots of familiar faces, although the kids have grown up a bit. (Also, Dorothy’s a witch, and the Patchwork Girl is a ninja.) The author of the script is a Shine reader who liked my style, and since I liked the sound of the plot, the rest is history. The first issue is due out…hopefully soon.