October 1998. I was six years old. Our first-grade teacher sent us home one night with an assignment to write a Halloween story. She encouraged us to write whatever kind of story we wanted, as long as it was about Halloween. I wrote a short horror story about a child who walks through a cemetery on Halloween night and encounters many of the ghosts that inhabit it, learning about their tragic endings. When I finished the story, I presented it to my parents, chin up, chest out and full of pride. When they finished it, their body language did not reflect my pride. At first, I thought they must be confused because of all the spelling and grammar errors. Turns out, it wasn’t the writing errors at all. I come from a family of immigrants. Proper English is rare. My parents were not confused, they were concerned. I remember my mother’s hand quivering so much that I thought I heard her fingers weeping. She winced as she asked me, “Poops…are you OK?” (Did I mention my nickname was…and still is… ‘Poops?’ Suddenly, a six-year-old writing a ghost story isn’t the scariest part of this little memoir). I paused for a second. I let their reactions register. I let their question with all of its shuddering syllables register, and then I…
(To find out what happens, finish reading. Don’t be lazy.)
“Dyscrasia,” in Pathology, is a malfunction or abnormal condition, especially an imbalance of the constituents of the blood. I decided on the name DYSCRASIA for this series after hearing on a podcast about the Greek physician, Galen. He theorized that diseases and temperaments were a result of an imbalance among different components of the body, in particular blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. Galen noted that when these four fluids were imbalanced in the body, they caused that person’s temperament to change. I wanted to use this phenomenon as a metaphor for the main character’s anger as he faces the challenges of not only finding a way to reclaim his soul, but learns how to live with the rage and the many conflicts that throw him off balance. At its core, DYSCRASIA is about growth. I named the country in the story “Crexia,” derived from the Italian “crescia,” (pronounced “cresh-a”) meaning “he/she grows.”
In an attempt to capture the drama that comes with dealing with anger in a fantasy world, I illustrated DYSCRASIA with a fountain pen, brush pen and white ink while trying to channel the likes of Tim Sale, Frank Miller, Mike Mignola and Greg Capullo, some of my greatest comic book inspirations. I also created the world of Crexia with aesthetic and thematic aspects in mind from the likes of Batman: The Animated Series, Supernatural, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Vikings, Marco Polo, Hannibal and Stranger Things, some of the film and television that inspired me as a child and continues to do so today.
(Thank you for your patience.)
…LAUGHED! I laughed until my lungs shrunk. Maybe that’s where my asthma came from, I don’t know. The important thing is, I learned something very important. I learned about the power of a reaction. I laughed because my parents were concerned that my story reflected how I was on the inside, when really, I was trying to recreate what interested me. I realized that all I was after was a reaction: first, out of myself and second, out of an audience as a result of my story telling. Since then, I’ve been determined to create stories that are profound, evocative and above all else, relatable. I want the readers to be immersed in the world and I want them to feel; to react.