|In college I was the typical nerd of color. Disenfranchised, alienated, lonely,
confused, alcoholic; I was the angry young Latin man of the 1970s. Syracuse
University was famous for being a party school and was upper-class and white. I
had no clue. But, I did get to do my first published work for the Daily Orange.
ADAM was a weird little daily strip that started off as a one-a-day sex joke kind of
thing to a strange and often distressing melodrama. Too bad my grades weren't
based on my strip. Except for beer and whining and my comic strip, I ignored
everything else in life. Looking back, I realize that ADAM kept me going.
|Okay. Let's skimp over most of the childhood stuff. Too much drama. Let's just say that things could have been
easier. That's probably why I got so obsessed with comics early on. Casper, Hot Stuff, Superman, Supergirl,
Archie... all characters who showed great kindness to each other.... well, maybe Superman wasn't that kind to Lois
or Kara, but he walked the walk. Cartoons like Astro Boy and KIMBA-THE WHITE LION got me hooked on simple
pathos, and my grandmother's Spanish soap operas showed me the value of well placed melodrama.
ESCAPING REALITY BECAME MY ART.
|Then the seventies began,
and I saw FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH,
and just like the rest of the kids in the Bronx,
it was all over for me.
THINGS STARTED TO LOOK up for me. I began to work for the Hetrick-Martin Institute... my first real job (5 years after college)! I focused on
creating tales of the closet, along with posters and educational materials. It was a hard time for us. AIDS was exploding in the gay community
and forced sexual orientation into the spotlight. Tales would be used as an educational tool, shipped to high schools and social service agencies
to educate and start a dialogue. It was the time of the multi-cultural initiatives. I had to put myself in the spotlight... a move that my family did not
enjoy. But, damn, AIDS was killing so many of my friends and co-workers. Everybody had to pitch in and work. I got to talk about my work on tv,
Fox 5, Bill Moyer's Journal, on NPR, and lots of the gay mags. Details even asked me to contribute to their election issue... right next to Gilbert
Hernandez! It was a scary but exciting time.
Blah blah blah. I decided to GET A GRIP on my life, and in doing so, help the ones coming after me. Believe
me, it wasn't such a lofty goal then. I just saw that there was precious little in comics, or movies to help and
validate people of different sexual orientation, race, body and/or culture. What the hell... I'd put my
two-cents in and see what's up. So, I created TALES OF THE CLOSET.
The time after college was not fun. No work, bad social habits, no friends, and no clue. Luckily i was also figuring out who i was inside, and these new
discoveries led to a lot of drawing. I realized that i was flailing around trying to find a way to come to terms with myself and the world... and that it should
have been easier. there should have been more mechanisms built into the world to deal with those that society considered 'outside' the official authorized
range of normality.
|what was this thing? political commentary? soap opera? teen angst? soap opera? goth soft porn? Navel gazing? A cry for help? I still don't know.