"Dream on Dreamer"

By Allan Angel

(September 3, 2017)

I’m a dreamer you see. I just started a semester at San Jose State University(SJSU) as a business major, had a stable job working for the USPS, and as my counselor at Mission College in the heart of Silicon Valley pointed out, “I was on my way!”

Then we got a notice from the county saying we had to tear down rooms my father, who is now deceased, built way back when me and my sister were children and were given 2 weeks to do it. In all but an instant my dreams were taken away from me. I had already foreclosed on my house in Tracy, CA and was barely making it going to school with tuition and fees. I was eating nothing but Top Ramen to save money for books, fees, etc., now I had to fork over $15,000 to tear down the studio my father had built for me, to make me become the artist I am today. The rooms were destroyed as instructed.

As the winter semester passed, I was able to look through the pile of belongings we had gathered inside a $1600 dollar sound booth I had bought, the only thing remaining due to not being situated permanently on the ground. After the semester was over, I checked into the sound booth and found that almost everything was damaged beyond recognition.

The plastic boxes I had bought weren’t enough to protect these precious collection of belongings. Moisture made its way to rare collection of memories and memorabilia of the SF Giants, comic books and Madonna collectibles, some signed way back in the 1990s by the icon herself. The plastic boxes were being held under the weight of paper storage boxes which sank into the floor with its contents of papers and recognition from my sister’s stint in the U.S. Army and more signed Madonna memorabilia piled one on top of the other conjoined due to water infestation and dried as to be inseparable and whole. That was the only thing remaining from the destruction of the rooms my father had built as a studio for me- unrecognizable bundles of memory and the love of collecting American memorabilia.

The $5,000 Mac tower I had bought wouldn’t start up and the HD3 pro tools sound card that was inside of it, costing me $20,000 was no longer functioning. I had produced a rap album for my cousin Hilda ‘Wicked’ Acasio and songs I had written and recorded for myself and all the midi files and audio regions that were hardwired to software synths like Virus that came along with the Pro Tools HD rig I had Sweewater assemble for me- gone. 2013 was the worst day of my life!

The worst of it, came when I saw the damage the whole process did to artworks I had done for The Invincibles sequel. The Invincibles aka Lost Legends tells the story of 8 year old kids who gain powers from a comet while playing at a park in the city of San Jose. I use the comic book medium to inject hope in the next generation just as comics by Marv Wolfman and George Perez have done for me with their title The New Teen Titans. Ironically, just as DC and Marvel have immortalized the city of New York by making it the setting for every title they have had from Superman to Batman, Spiderman, etc. I wanted to immortalize my hometown of San Jose.

In all but an instant my dreams were taken away from me. I also had to figure out a way to pay for my tuition the next year. I was defeated, forlorn and unable to eat. I had lost about 20 pounds from my already trim physic and you could see the bones protruding beyond my skin. I would have been a great figure to draw from in life drawing class. Everyone saw the sadness in my eyes. It was the saddest day of my life, possibly, even surpassing the day my father died.

I couldn’t bare to see the damage of my artwork until just now… 4 years later. I’ve drawn out the plot of The Invincibles from the get go as any projects I do. I know where each character is going, characters to be introduced and the inherent message in my books to people who read it, which is to always have hope. That no matter how hard it gets, it will get better. How ironic then, that this message I had was invalid. I had already set out a commission for George Perez to ink a cover featuring …S… and The Baby Warriors and those are gone. Erika America the valiant warrior Brazilian amazon, fighting for justice, and liberty for all, damaged beyond repair.

Look at my art.

Look at it.

What do you see?

And I realized as tears welled down my eyes, looking at the state my art was in, that this, the creation of art, was all that mattered. The sacrifice, the struggle, the starving, the defeat. I got up.

I had to think of some way to keep going to school. The comic book business was a moot point, mysterious and unreachable, but a BA in Business could fill that void somewhat. I did research on scholarships and applied for everything you can think of. I wanted so badly to finish school and I dug into my soul like I’ve never done before and wrote. I was honest and brutal in my essays writing about why I was the first one in my family to have ever achieved this feat. Driven, I was able to finish my schooling due to the many scholarships I applied for. I also found out that whenever I seemed to write rather than draw, good things came my way. Dream on Dreamer.