As my graduation date has come and gone, there are still a number of things in my life coming to a close. Perhaps the most bittersweet is the end of my comic Lobo Days (f.k.a. Community Days). I wanted to write a little bit about the origins of this comic and where I plan on taking it from here.
I hope you enjoy.
It was the Fall of 2014 when I found myself meekly approaching the Student Publications booth at the Midland College club fair. The attendant asked if I was interested in joining, and I explained that I didn't write well or do photography for publication, he told me to come to the first meeting anyway. When the meeting day rolled around, I came and sat quietly, observing the meeting and thinking how exciting, terrifying, and new this all was to me.
The editor came up to me at the end of the meeting and asked to see some of my existing work. I had done some comics for a different story of mine and I was embarrassed to show them to her. I felt they weren't good enough, that they were weird, and I apologised and said as much. But to my surprise, she loved them and welcomed me to the staff of the El Paisano as the cartoonist (and occasional illustrator). I would keep that title until I left Midland College for an adventure in China in January of 2016 - which is a story for another day.
The idea for the comic was very hard for me to come up with. At first, I was just going to use the characters I'd alreadymade that had nothing to do with college life at all. But after some thought, I felt that I could do better; I wanted to opt for something more relatable to life as a college student.
Cue: Community Days.
The protagonist of the comic is a young man named Todd. His appearance was based largely off of the character of the other comic that I had, minus the beard. He wore a green Midland College shirt for the entirety of Community Days, switching colours when he transfers to Sul Ross State University. His friend did show up from time to time, but I decided to have her transfer to a different university as my own friends did. I wanted to capture that feeling of being alone in a new place (they're definitely still friends though!).
The title of the comic series was originally going to be Community in reference to the fact that Midland College is a community college. But I discovered that there was a TV show of the same name, which left me feeling defeated. So, I decided to add "days" to the end of "community" and thus - a comic was born!
Fast forward to August of 2017 to the next step in my education - Sul Ross State University. I had met with the advisor of Student Publications prior to enrolling and had even been offered a job as the cartoonist of the Skyline which I accepted immediately. I was excited to be able to keep making comics and continue Community Days, it was just a way of expressing my personal experiences as a university student - the good and the bad.
Changing the name Community Days was no easy task; there were a lot of candidates, but none had the same kind of ring to me. When Livin' la Vida Lobo was my only viable option, I discussed it with my boss and she recommended Lobo Days, which is a term a faculty head used to refer to special event days on the SRSU campus. I thought it was perfect, and so it stuck.
Todd remained the protagonist, only changing his shirt colour to SRSU red and shaving his beard, transitioning from Midland College to Sul Ross through an easter egg in one of the Community Days comics (can you spot it?). He was my outlet for my frustrations of being alone in a new place and grew with me as I gained more experiences and friends.
I learned so much from creating this comic over the past 4 years. I can see myself growing as an artist throughout each comic; experimenting with layouts, backgrounds, ideas, and releasing my own sense of humour when in person I was afraid to open my mouth most of the time. I began to listen to and observe the people around me, which I feel has made me come out of my comfort zone. This comic has been an outlet for me, and I hope a joy to read for others.
In many ways, Todd represents my experiences in both community college and university. I know this isn't the end for Todd, just as it's not the end for me. It's just the end of this chapter in our lives, and the new one is ready to be written.
Thank you to everyone who stuck with me - special thanks to Kelsey Chiolo, Rachel Long, Chuy, my mother and sister, professors, advisors, bosses, coworkers, friends and countless strangers I've met along the way.