I grew up in the small town of Groton, Vermont; which sat in the southwestern part of the Northeast Kingdom. My three brothers and I had the luxury of growing up in this rural setting; where the hidden mysteries of the woods and the unhindered depth of our imaginations formed a strong foundation for lifetime of unfettered creativity.
As a child, I created dozens of stories and characters; many of which I was able to rediscover through old boxes stored in the attic. One of these discoveries was The Stag Gem. It was originally a story written that encompassed all the characters I created when I was around ten years old. Putting them all in one story was a fun endeavor for me. Obviously now, it has been rewritten a few times as I got older; the storyline has evolved, but the characters still belong to the 10 year old mind.
Tadman was my teenage years. I was surrounded by friends that also shared the same appreciation of unbridled chaos and random childish humor that focused on storylines involving plots that centered around adding random adjectives and noun combinations; Angry Nudist, Blind Canary, Mahogany Cheese Boy… and random noun combinations; Glob Guy, Mr. Facebone, Toilet Paper Head, and stick them in a universe that thrives on childish humor and unbridled chaos too!
I revisited the comic while I was in art school at Webster University. The sidekicks were way more fun to write about than the main protagonist so the storylines evolved to tell their stories. They became the main focus and the title hero became a more tertiary character.
In my final months of college, I was fully planning on taking what I learned in art school to become a children’s book illustrator, but fate had other plans. I saw a Peace Corps brochure in the Student Union. On a whim I applied, and I was accepted. The next four years I spent in Niger. The standard assignment length is 2 years, but I liked it so much I stayed an extra two more. After that, I spent over a decade doing international humanitarian work. 2 Years and INGO represents my travels and work I did for roughly 15 years in the Peace Corps and other international relief organizations.
Like any other high stress job, I was always on the verge of a full blown case of accumulated stress disorder. My coping mechanism was to draw out my frustrations and ineptitude of the bureaucratic machine of humanitarian work in the form of a satirical comic book. As the years progressed and I continued to write the stories; they turned from being a form of therapy while I was in the midst of living and working in the field; into fond memories since I came out of that particular line of work. Although the perception has changed, I enjoy keeping the biting satire in for those who have done or doing the work.
The most recent era of my life has me newly married to an African woman. The fresh perspective of a new marriage mixed with the cross cultural expectation and discoveries have given me a wealth of storylines to tell. I am excited to see how well Lion and Dove has been received from the reading audience.