This is a photo of me, Tom Valdespino, inking the last page on "My Hero vs. His Mind", my very first comic!! ( photo credit: Ashley G)
I love comic books. Always have and, I suspect, always will.
For most, when you hear " comic book " you think superheroes in costumes fighting bad guys. BOOM!! POW!! However, this is not the case as, just like with novels, there is literally something out there for everyone.
Stories of love, loss and family. Stories that will make you laugh, stories that will break your heart. Stories, told in sequential art, that I dare say, at times. top their prose counterparts.
My love of comics goes back as far as I can remember...
Starting when I was four years old with "Transformers #3", the first comic I ever remember owning, comic books helped teach me how to read.
And if you know nothing else about me, know this: Reading is as important to me as breathing. I need to do both each day to survive.
When I was a teenager, I stopped buying comics. I wish I had a better excuse than because it "wasn't cool". Still, every now and again I'd pick up a Wizard magazine " just to see what was happening".
As I got older, cared less ( than eventually didn't care at all) of what others thought I reignited my love of comics. I realized there was more than capes and cowls, jokers and madmen, there were personal stories and autobiographical comics of everyday people. They weren't like me neccisarily but they were good stories to read.
Around this time, in my late teens and early twenties, I started writing more and more. I hesitated to show this to anyone.
When I was 22 I wrote a 250 page novel. It took me 4 months. I showed it to a few people ( people I knew, friends and family) who seemed to like it. It's called "kaleidoscope" and is about a guy in his 20s raising his young nephew. It remains unpublished. Though, in writing about it now I may one day revisit it.
In the fall of 2012 I decided to go back to college. In addition to all the classes I HAD to take, I took an English class "just for fun". That class was called "The Graphic Novel as Literature" and for our final project we had to write and draw our very own comic.
For my final I decided to write about my Uncle Bobby... And his lifelong battle with schizophrenia.
And though I'm no artist (I can hardly draw a straight line) the story, both true and heartbreaking, was universal. Nobody wants to see someone they love suffer.
I entered this final project in a comic contest that year at DVC. And, to my surprise, it won an award. I was given art supplies at an award ceremony and everything !!
But the best part of that award ceremony was several of the judges (teachers in English and Art at DVC) telling me I should continue to work on the story. "You've really got something here, Tom."
There were many starts and stops, times work and school got in the way, an entire summer where I didn't know what to draw next... Two years have gone by... But last week, ironically on National Comic Book Day, I finally finished.
"My Hero vs. His Mind" is about my Uncle Bobby and his battles with schizophrenia. Though he's struggled with the voices in his head my whole life it's only in the last few years that they've gotten too loud to ignore.
Not many people, outside of my family, know about this. And it wasn't/isn't easy to write or talk about. It's not easy to write this now.
But his story is an incredible one, everyday he fights to not listen to the voices... And this story was one I felt needed to be shared.
And because you're my peeps... You can read the first few pages here...
I've loved comics my entire life... But never did I think in them I'd find a new medium in which to tell stories of my own.
Where I'm at now:
With principle drawing and writing done I'm researching where to submit it for publication... Or, more likely, where to dip my toes into the seemingly scary world of self publishing .
One way or another, " My Hero vs. His Mind" will come out one day. I will see to it.
When it does cone out , I will let you know... Bring money !! Haha.
In the meantime, working on this has broken open the creative floodgates... There may be more stories coming hopefully sooner than later... And I'm incredibly happy that I have a new way in which to tell them.
Thank you for reading , thank you for believing in me...