Behind the Scenes Part 1: The Beginning and How I Became an Animator

I asked and you voted. The winner of the poll was more behind-the-scenes content on Cosmic Rage. So let’s jump down the rabbit hole and go back in time a bit.

I wanted to share how I even became an animator in the first place. It’s not very often a kid that grows up on a farm in the midwest turns animator. As a kid, I was always fascinated by moving pictures. My core consisted of Disney movies (especially Robin Hood), Bruce Timm’s Batman (which still holds up today as a series) and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which doesn’t hold up).

In school I read a lot but when it came to book orders, I always ordered drawing books and would try my best at replicating Garfield, Monsters and anything else I could. I worked to blend things I learned from the stories I read with the drawings. My first attempt at writing a book came when I was in the 4th grade. I don’t mean a short story, I mean a full length novel.

After moving to small city, my interests started changing. As I prepared to set off for college I planned on becoming a teacher. During my final semester in high school, I had all the credits I needed to graduate. I contemplated graduating early and either working for a semester before college or just starting early. In the end, I decided to stay in high school but I was going to take a lot of art classes. The reason, a show called Dragonball Z.

I was so fascinated with a show that killed characters off, and included so many side characters that played vital roles. The good guy didn’t always win. I was amazed. These were the types of stories I wanted to watch. Ones that weren’t predictable. Ones that had a robust world and cast. To this day, the fact that Goku learned the Spirit Bomb so early in the show but didn’t actually use it to defeat a villain until the end of the series is brilliant.

In that short semester I changed directions and decided to pursue art. My first couple years in college I didn’t really know what area of art to get into. I bounced around a few colleges. In my first year at South Dakota State University (SDSU) (and third year of college) I actually had a teacher ask me where I was planning on going to school the next year. After that I knew I found home.

I studied Graphic Design for a couple years. As I got closer to graduating, I decided to take a semester off from the design courses and take some art education courses and also took the first animation class at SDSU that was offered to me. I couldn’t take it the year before because I didn’t have the proper classes taken. The success of these somewhat experimental animation classes opened the doors for SDSU to start an animation certification program. I committed to animation just a mere 2 classes away from graduating with my graphic design degree (hence why I am going back this fall to finish it).

I graduated from SDSU with my degree in General Art, but an emphasis in drawing and animation. My animation class was a mere 4 students but we were a talented bunch. At this time I started experimenting around with different platforms to tell the Cosmic Rage story. I started off working in a graphic novel format. My first attempt at a graphic novel was actually an entry in TokyoPops Rising Stars of Manga competition. I took a few independent studies in college and put together a small graphic novel (around 40 pages).

I loved drawing the characters but longed for things to move. It was when I was living in Minneapolis that I would stumble across another show that would change the course of Cosmic Rage.

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