This week, we’re taking a trip back in time to highlight some of the first work our team has done in their respective areas of expertise. We’re calling it Rewind Week, and think you’ll enjoy opening up the archives with us. Read about Junger’s first websites here.
Since I was a kid, my first love has been drawing and illustration. My dad had done a comic strip while he was in high school, and he encouraged me to be an avid reader of classic comic strips like Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side, Bloom County, Pogo, and Peanuts. In grade school, I spent most of my time drawing those characters all over my school work (to the chagrin of my instructors). There was at least one drawing of Garfield or Earthworm Jim on everything I owned.
So when I arrived at UMass Amherst in the early 2000s, I jumped at the chance to more seriously pursue my illustration work. When I wasn’t busy with my BFA coursework, I began to put some of my drawings into a comic strip by the name of “Damaged Goods.”
It was clearly quite rough in the beginning. I was simultaneously learning Photoshop, how to scan and import my sketches or work directly with my Wacom tablet, and clean it all up and make it presentable. At the time, I was only showing my work to friends, so it could be as sloppy as I wanted, and it was still a fun learning experience.
By my sophomore year, I was submitting my strips to the UMass Amherst school paper, The Daily Collegian and to my surprise, they actually published them! Unfortunately for my fellow students, my comics were still (for the most part) poorly drawn inside jokes. I decided that I should at least try to make them more accessible for an audience beyond the few 19-year-olds I was friends with.
My references weren’t branching too far out from my day-to-day as a college sophomore, but my illustration skills were clearly improving. I was developing a consistent workflow, starting with a pen and ink drawing that I scanned into Photoshop and cleaned up.
At the time, I was very influenced by popular webcomics like Penny Arcade and I wanted a piece of that action. With some technical help, I created a site on Keenspace (a popular web comic publishing platform in the early aughts), and began simultaneously publishing my comics there.
The height of my comic strip productivity coincided with some important (to me) political milestones, and I thought I could be political cartoonist like Doonesbury. It obviously didn’t pan out.
In my junior year, I began to take courses on the history of the graphic novel and the American comic strip (did you know the first comic strip was The Yellow Kid by Outcault?). This led me to create comics that were a little bit more traditional.
While the humor was Dagwood-level, in a few short years I had developed into a skilled comic strip artist. Unfortunately, my course work got to be too much to balance with the strip, and it fell by the wayside.
After the strip ended, I tried my hand at the graphic novel and comic book medium (perhaps to be discussed in a future post) and I continued to develop my illustration skill set as a professional.
I know 19-year-old Forrest would be thrilled to see how his work has advanced since those first poorly drawn panels.
Want me to draw something for you? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.