It seems that the time has come for me to post this. I noticed quite a bit of people have this, so it's only natural for me as an artist to do the same thing.
My biggest influence comes from my uncle, because he was the one responsible for even getting me started in the first place. He was a fan of comic books and one of the memories I fondly remember of him when I was a kid was seeing his room he shared with my other uncle when they were living together. There were mountains of comic books piled up everywhere in that room; some of which I think he never actually got around to reading.
Jeff had testicular cancer that had gone into remission when he was in his late 'teens which then came back full force in his mid-twenties. On his way to work himself into the comic book industry with his amazing skill, he had attempted to go to school for awhile, but then the pain from his condition proved too much for him to take on. When he was told how much time he had left, all could say was "Why me, mama? Why me?". We all wondered the same thing.
Eventually his healthy appearance began to deteriorate--a horrible thing to witness when you're only 9 years old. Following shortly after that, he died one summer morning in '97 while I was at school. The pain of loss didn't hit me until I went to bed that evening. I've always been a real heavy thinker, and then it just felt terrible.
From then on, I drew and drew as much as I could at home and at school, especially when I wasn't supposed to be doing it. I got in trouble quite a few times because I'd draw something objectionable, or because my folks found out I wasn't paying attention in class when they'd go rooting around in my binder. Throughout middle school I had to completely stop because it was becoming a problem. I did it a couple times in high school, but then you know all about what that shit called opinions does to your self-esteem.
Once out, I was split between ideas on what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I figured computers since I had a knack for working on them and with them, but I only chose that due to pressure from my mother. She didn't make me go to college, but she was going to make me work when I wasn't going, and I wasn't gonna have any of that. I was 18, and no one was telling ME what to do.
Basically it came to one of three different paths I could choose (and they didn't involve computers): I wanted to pursue either comedy, since George Carlin's passing taught me a lot about satire, or being in the weeaboo phase I was going through, I wanted to become a manga artist because of all the drawing I had done prior, but it seemed so far out of the way to me so trying to learn Japanese was the next best thing, I figured. Didn't realize that would be as difficult as people were saying, and it made me regret not paying attention in English...
So computers were my fall-back, and that's what I chose but as I progressed through the course it more and more back something I didn't want to do. Math is a bitch--fuck that shit. In my free time at home, I tried to get back into the arts again, but that pesky self-defeating attitude kept me from focusing on any one thing for too long. Here and there I'd draw something, but then came the sad realization that I'd never be good at it because I didn't have my uncle's talent, but my cousin proved to be the one who could do the same.
I gave up once more. Over that time though, I learned I could draw on a computer with a pen tablet! I had no idea they existed. Totally mind blowing. But as a few years passed, I sunk into depression a bit and just sat in front of my computer to kill time between cradle and grave, waiting for something to come along. But you know what they say: If you want something, go get it. Don't let anyone ever tell you that you can't do something.
One day in spring a year and a half ago, my computer died. I thought I was going to lose it! Had no income whatsoever and my unemployment had all but dried up. I got angry, and then somehow drawing found its way back into my life, so I spent every waking moment in between all that downtime trying to better my craft and I've succeeded. I improved upon something I never thought possible, and I continue to do it to this day. Things are much better now. I'm back where I want to be, and better than ever.
Thank you, unc. You've saved me in a couple ways that I didn't expect, and I am eternally grateful.