Jeff is a storyteller who works thru prose and pictures. As an illustrator
and cartoonist his drawings need to create a mood and tell a story right
out of the gate. His quirky style works particularly well for this.
Reliable sources say that Jeff began drawing as soon as he could hold
a pencil, and soon there were stashes of pencils in cubby holes all over
the house -just in case. Jeff would draw all the time. Strange inventions
and monsters were always favorites, and still are to this day. At the end
of his first year in college after he'd worked himself into a coma, literally,
those who knew him were relieved when he woke up, and asked for his
drawing pad and pencils.
When Jeff was five years old, he was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes.
The prognosis was that he would not live past his 21st birthday, and if
he managed to live that long, he would have gone blind and had his
legs amputated, cos that's just what happens to diabetics. Believe it or
not, this kind of bedside manner has an effect on a five year old, but
there's no reason to go into that here.
In high school Jeff met his friend Mark and started playing Dungeons &
Dragons (his introduction into the world of Role Playing Games -the
magic of storytelling and creativity in action!), and music, and all kinds
of strange projects. Even though Mark now lives on the other side of
the world, he and Jeff still talk often and manage to work on projects
here and there.
Jeff went to college at a little place in the trees called The Evergreen
State College. He studied English, and a little bit of art, and even
earned college credit in vampirology. He got into the Teaching
certification program with an essay on a teacher's interpretation of Mary
Shelly's Frankenstein, and received his Masters Degree in Teaching in
In order to pay the rent until he found a steady teaching job, he
somehow found himself doing a lot of retail management in places like
video arcades, comic book and gaming shops, a bookstore, and
managed to teach drawing and cartooning on the side.
It wasn't until Jeff was 32 that his eyes started to fall apart. The next
several years were filled with horrible surgeries and long painful
recovery periods. After each surgery he lost a bit more of his vision, but
kept working to relearn how to draw.
This is probably a good time to crack the code of the whole vision rating
thing and explain just what this "blind cartoonist" thing is all about.
For those of you who don't know about vision ratings, 20/20 is perfect
vision. The first number, which is always a 20, says how far you are
from the subject you're looking at. The second number is how clear the
subject you're looking at appears. So 20/20 means that an object 20
feet away has the clarity of an object 20 feet away, it looks just how it's
supposed to. 20/200 means that an object 20 feet away is distorted so
much it seems as if it's 200 feet away. At less than 20/200 vision they
start using "Finger Tests" (holding fingers up to see if you can count
them or even tell they're fingers). At his last checkup his "good eye"
was rated at 10 feet for the finger check. This qualifies me as well within
the range of "legally blind". It also means that he walks with a white
cane and will never be able to drive a car again unless he gets in a real
mood and then,
LOOK OUT WORLD! Because his eye can't focus well he also doesn't
have very good color recognition and does a lot of guesswork there. He
draws by strapping on super-duper magnifying lenses and works about
an inch away from the drawing surface. This is a very slow process, but
he's still in the race, just him and the tortoise back there, but they're still
Ok, So this Jeff guy is a visually impaired artist. What else does he
have going on? He's taught a bit at TESC, including subjects such as
distopian literature, Shakespeare, Folklore (with a bit of magic thrown in
for good measure) and of course a drawing/cartooning lesson here and
The best thing in Jeff's life, and oh what a great thing she is, is Raquel.
Somewhere along the line at that little place in the trees, Jeff met and
fell madly in love with Raquel. They were married one Hallowe'en and
Jeff's been actively "in love" every day of his life since.
Around 2003 a doctor prescribed a negligently high dose of medication
that killed off Raquel's kidneys. She had to begin dialysis almost
immediately. They began living even more frugally to save money for a
kidney transplant, and then diabetes took its toll on Jeff's kidneys. They
were hoping to get a transplant for him before he needed to start
dialysis so that he could recover quickly and continue to help Raquel,
get her a transplant as soon as possible. Jeff did all he could to stay
off of dialysis, but waited too long and eventually couldn't think straight
or even walk. He spent a week in hospital, and took several months to
"recover". He and Raquel dialyzed side by side at the clinic for almost a
year before Jeff got "The Call"..
The Pancreas/Kidney transplant is a tough thing to go through and it
took Jeff several months before he was able to move around properly
again. He's now doing really super terrific, enough to make the doctors
wonder but he doesn't really feel comfortable telling them he augments
his physicians' care with lots of magic work -shhh!
The project now is to get Raquel squared away and ready for her
transplant. She's been on dialysis long enough!
Every cent Jeff earns from his writing and artwork goes into the
JeffWerx Transplant Fund.
All Contents © J. Freels, 2008-2014, All Rights Reserved