After the disastrous trip to New York, I went to Montgomery College in Rockville, MD. When I was in high school, most of my time was spent in ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes, and somehow I never took the SAT. When I went to college, I had to take a test, and it was determined that I should enroll in basic English and Math. I also had to take physical education. To this day, it baffles me as to why you have to take classes that have nothing to do with your major. One of the counselors explained that they want you to be a well-rounded student. plan the day well, and I was late for my art class.
My first day of class was something I will never forget. As always, I didn''t. I finally found the room after running up and down the hallways. The classroom door had a window, but it was covered in paper. I opened the door, and lo and behold, and there was a naked lady in the center surrounded by students with easels.
I was shocked. It''s not that I hadn''t seen a naked woman before, but to have one in front of numerous people... Of course, all the students, the teacher, and the naked lady all turned around to look at me. I had been in the US for about five to six years now, and the culture shock was still present. I stepped back out and closed the door, thinking I was in the wrong class. I did a double-take, and sure enough, the number above the classroom looked right. I opened the door again, and once again, everyone turned to watch. At this point, the teacher said, "In or out. You are letting In the flies." I didn''t get the reference at that time. I took a seat at an empty art easel and got my stuff out, and the teacher came over. He told me that I was to draw the model for the first day of class, as he wanted to see everyone''s skills.
I started drawing, and the teacher was quietly going around the room and looking at everyone''s art. He stopped behind me and said, not In a loud voice but loud enough for everyone to hear, "Are you shy? Use the whole paper." There is a psychology that shy people draw small. As I turned the paper and started drawing, I noticed that she looked back at me with a smirk on her face every time I looked at the model. Every time she looked at me, I looked away. I had no idea what to do. I swear to this day that she was doing It on purpose to make me more uncomfortable. When we were done, she came up to stand behind me, looked at my work, and told me that I did well.
Much time passed, and we came to our last class for the semester. We had the same model as the first day, but this time she was joined by a male model as well. The teacher positioned the models, so the guy was standing up, and the woman was sitting sideways in front of him—it was an innocent pose. As we started to draw, the male model got a little excited, and everyone in the class burst into laughter. I do have to say this guy was made of stone. He didn''t show any reaction and continued his pose. He was very professional.
As I continued my second semester, I didn''t have the fire. Due to this and other circumstances, I dropped out and started to work with my brother in construction. I didn''t draw after that and didn''t think that I would ever do so again. I started as a laborer and continued to learn new skills, and after several years I was a job foreman. After six or seven years in construction, I decided to start my own company. I called it Maximum Construction. At one time, I had several jobs and employed over 30 people. One thing I wasn''t good at was the accounting part. While working with a new general contractor, he decided not to pay me. I depended on that pay for my payroll, and the whole company came crashing down, and I had to close the doors. It''s a terrible thing to have so many people with families depend on you, and you have to tell them that they have to find new work. I stayed in construction for another year, but I knew that I couldn''t do the physical work required when I hit my forties and fifties.
I decided to change careers and got into computers. I have been in technology for over twenty years and even started another company teaching and consulting. This time I was the only employee, and I did very well—so well that I reflected on my dreams of comics again. I quit my company and packed my bags, and enrolled In the Joe Kubert School.
I was in the Kubert school for about a year and a half. During this time, I had a fantastic conversation with Joe Kubert, and I told him about his Tarzan comics reaching as far as Afghanistan. I admired many teachers, like Kim DeMulder—who inked the first few issues of VI EMPIRE—and Adam and Andy, Joe''s sons, who are brilliant comic artists. During Adam''s classes, he sometimes would bring his Marvel work to class, and I would sit behind him in awe as he would draw. However, one teacher was a great painter but gave me a difficult time because of my last name. It turns out that the year before, this teacher had also made racist comments and given a hard time to another student who happened to be Muslim. With me, it got so bad that a young student surprised me with her compassion and sense of morals. She came over to me and said that if I liked, she would go to the office and speak on my behalf. All my life, I had dealt with people like this teacher, and I always remember a saying my father told me, "If a dog barks at you, do you bark back at it?" Bless your soul, smidget, for your friendship, kindness, and humanity.
In life, you will encounter indifference and injustice, among many other issues. Don''t lose faith, keep your eye on your goal and always drive forward. Even if it''s one inch at a time, you will get there. Don''t forget to celebrate the small victories.
We all have a superpower, and that is how we feel. Choose to be happy. Don''t allow another person to put you down or make you feel ashamed or embarrassed. They can''t make you feel these things. Only you have that power.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for choosing to listen to our story. May you have much success and happiness.
It was a team effort delivering this project, but a few people shined more brightly. I would like to recognize Stuart Moore, Val Semeiks, and Nathan Eyring for their dedication and professionalism. This book would not have been possible without their efforts. I look forward to future projects with them.
Good morning, good afternoon, and good night. If you are religious, God bless you if you are not live long and prosper :).