Growing up, being creative was a big part of my childhood. I remember having drawing contests with my father to see who could draw the better monster. They were always monsters. We used multiple colored pencils for our artwork and in one of my dad’s drawings, I think he made it a point to try to use every single one. I must say though, he is a pretty solid artist.
In addition, my parents often arranged for a babysitter, Christina, to watch me in their absence. She was the older sister of my best friend, Donnie Karns. She was, and still is, a phenomenal artist. Creativity was flowing through her veins and she fostered that in me at an early age. Every time she came over, we invented a new board game. Each one different from the last. They all had a theme to them with a clear definable goal that must be accomplished. We would tape multiple pieces of paper together to form the board and then we would draw out the course; after coloring it in, then we’d play the game until one of us won. That usually marked the end of the night, but I owe her a great deal for forcing me to be creative and original with every game we made.
Fast forward to when I was in the 6th grade, my imagination was growing. I watched the cartoon Voltron: Defender of the Universe and I remember thinking that the monsters that he had to fight were by far the coolest enemies ever conceived. They were original and they blew my mind every episode. Though, now after googling for pictures of the monsters, they all seemed to have spikes over their nipples. Peculiar. Anyways, this may mark the start of the Sci-Fi phase of my childhood. Watching 5 robotic cats connect together to form Voltron and then summon forth the great sword to slay the monster was definitely my idea of a good time. In fact, this cartoon, my babysitter, and my artist-contests with my father made such an impact upon my imagination that I can say with a certainty that they are responsible for the unique creatures that permeate throughout my fantasy novel today.
Despite my 4th grade teacher acting like a literary agent handing me a form rejection letter, and despite my principal banning the only books I ever read in my free time, I didn’t give up. I turned my passion for comic books into my first attempt at publishing an original work. ROM was my favorite comic book hero of all time. He was a mix of Robocop and Ghostbusters. He was a robot with a ray-gun that, when it hit his enemies, it sent them to an alternate dimension; so you can imagine how awesome it was when he got shot with his own ray-gun! I admittedly used the cover-art of comic #17 so that you might be impressed by his short-lived popularity. The X-Men made cameo appearances in only two issues (17 & 18). I own almost the entire collection of ROM comics, from #1 – 75 (the last issue)… and is probably the most complete collection on the planet. I’ve never met a fellow nerd that can even say he has ever heard of ROM before.
So in the 6th grade, my first attempt at publishing was a comic book: Mr. Scientificist. The name originated from my friend, Justin Deslauriers, who in his youth mistakenly said “scientificist” instead of “scientist”. It was an instant inside joke amongst my friends, and thus we turned him into an action super hero. He was a scientist with a ray gun that followed a frog-man into the sewer and they battled it out. I think it got pretty violent, if I remember correctly. My friends that were better artists than me (Alex and Lorenzo) were the main contributers to the comic. I remember that word spread amongst the school and the comic was generating a lot of interest. I even got approval to sell it in the school store, but without a means to mass produce copies, it went nowhere. I started making issue #2, but that never got completed. My dreams of inventing the next greatest comic book hero were dashed. Many years later, I found Mr. Scientificist issue #1 and gave it to Justin for one of his birthdays. Best. Birthday. Present. Ever.