Jorge Santiago Jr. was an El Paso raised comic book artist, famous for his numerous self-published comics drafted in the Anime/Manga style. He has created some of the Sun City's most exquisite original works including The Wolves of Sauriel, Good night Miss Goose, and the romantic self-contained graphic novel KCNO. He was also the editor of El Paso's first Manga-styled anthology series Gaiga. You will be able to see most of his work on his DeviantArt page, and read chapters of his premiere comic series here.
More important than his artistic body of work, however, is Jorge's tireless efforts in assisting local El Paso artists to succeed. Not only was he a respectable presence in the artist alleys of numerous local conventions, he was also a mentor to the manga-styled artists who took place in said events alongside him.
Jorge Santiago has moved away from El Paso to Atlanta, Georgia in order to pursue is masters in sequential art. By the community that he cared for so much, he will be dearly missed. In order to commemorate this moment, we at Augmented Reality Online Maganine have requested that Jorge write down one last piece of advice to cive to the El Paso comic community at large. This is the letter we recieved in response.
My name is Jorge Santiago Jr. I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas and have been a geek who has loved comics, cartoons, and science fiction for as long as I can remember. I am also an artist who has self-published 7 graphic novels and counting and recently I made the most terrifying decision of my life.
All my life I have enjoyed the talents of great artists and creators; the dreams of imaginative men and women the world over. When I was a kid, I didn’t know how these works came to me, just that I loved them with all my heart. I began drawing at a young age, not because I wanted to become a creator but because I loved it so much. As I got older and took drawing more seriously, I found out about the people who entertained me as a child and what it took to get to their position. It didn’t faze me at the time.
In about the fall of 2010, I had finished 2 books for a local comic convention. I was living with my parents still and I was working a dead end job as a security guard while drawing in my free time. I was happy with this but then I looked at my life from the outside: I had not accomplished a thing.
I drew my comics with all my heart and I loved every second of it, but it wasn’t enough for me. I had wasted my college years in a major I hated and I wasted the two years after that in unfulfilling jobs and drawing when the boss’s head was turned. I was happy to live my life from one self-imposed deadline to the next, with a stack of finished pages to my right and a new book printed on the desk in front of me. I could print 15 copies of it. That means 14 people would get the chance to read it. I’d save a copy for myself as a trophy of my endeavors.
I hadn’t accomplished anything. I worked hard for months on a new book, my newest piece of expression, but only 14 people would get to read it? I tried internet promotion but it’s a slow process. I’m still neck deep in it. I made a decision using a line from one of my favorite science fiction movies:
Try not. DO. Or do not. There is no try.
I immediately got online and looked into going for my Master’s degree. Not because I need it, but because of the freedom it offers. College is a time for experimentation, where the labs and equipment are 30 minutes away and you can use them as much as you want, 24/7. College meant holding off payments on my student loans and a chance to get back some of the time I lost years before. If I went to college again, I could use what I know now to make something of myself!
But I couldn’t make a change here in El Paso; it was too safe here. If I failed I could simply fall back on my parents, get another security job and try from there. That would be the smart thing to do, but I think that a sink or swim attitude will make you fight harder. If you know you will die if you lose, you will fight until the last breath and you’re more likely to become a champion.
I’m writing this in my current apartment in Sandy Springs, Georgia. I’m living day to day while I wait for school to begin at the Savannah College of Art and Design in September. I’m drawing a lot here, and I’m meeting some exciting people who are helping me improve myself and are inspiring me to better myself.
So what parting advice would I, a big nobody from El Paso have for anyone who reads this? Talent is not rare; a lot of people have talent. The real rarity is drive. I’ve known great talents who have fizzled out because they didn’t have to the drive to make something of themselves. So my advice to you is if you love your talent and you want to do anything, you need to make the steps needed to secure your own happiness.
Whatever it is, whatever it takes, don’t stop fighting for it until you’ve made an impression on something or someone. Make them remember you and maybe one day your mark will be on a little boy or girl who started drawing or writing or making music because they loved something you made with all your heart.