Scott James is living the dream of every 13-year-old boy who loves comic books. The Genoa-Kingston High School graduate has a master’s degree in education and works as a freelance comic book artist. He has worked on a variety of comic books, or “floppies,” and has one graphic novel to his credit, “The Case Files of Harlan Falk.” James is delving into the writing with a new project, “Mob Files.”
Reporter Debbie Behrends caught up with James recently and learned a little more about his career path.
Behrends: After you graduated from Genoa-Kingston High School, where did your educational path take you?
James: I graduated from G-K in ‘90 and played basketball at McHenry County College while I got my [associate] degree. Then, I transferred to NIU and earned a bachelor’s degree in studio illustration. From there, I earned a master’s in elementary education from Aurora University.
Behrends: And you taught for a while?
James: Yes, I taught a couple of years in DeKalb. I won the 2005 Amerihost Inn Teacher of the Year Award my first year teaching. I taught fifth grade because I didn’t want to pigeon hole myself as an art teacher. I also taught illustration for a few years. I’ve done some conceptual design work for Hasbro on “Small Soldiers” and for the Action Man cartoons on Fox. I also worked for a while as an adjunct professor at McHenry County College teaching computer art.
Behrends: But now you’re working as a comic book artist, right?
James: Yes, my wife, Mary Ann, got a job at a nursing home in Rockford, so I’m freelancing so one of us is available for the kids. We have four kids; Ethan is 14, Owen is 11 and we have twins, Evan and Olivia, who are 9.
Behrends: How did your interest in comic books start?
James: I blame Brian Bailey. He was my comic book crack supplier. He had subscriptions to several comic books, and, at that time, we just didn’t have any place to buy them in Genoa. We had to go to DeKalb to the Northern Lights bookstore. That’s what got me hooked.
Behrends: Can you point to one teacher or mentor who recognized your talent and encouraged you?
James: Marilyn Strawn was my art teacher at G-K. She had believed in my ability and encouraged me. I’ve also been blessed with parents who encouraged me.
Behrends: What advice would you give to someone looking for a career in art?
James: Keep drawing. The more you do it, the better you become. Eventually, you can construct things without seeing them – deconstruct and reconstruct.