2013 was a rough year.
I was raised by my grandparents ever since I was two. I had been told my biological mother died at the age of 19 from heart problems. My biological father remained a question mark throughout my entire life. But there was something that just didn’t feel right.
After putting a lot of pressure, I learned what I had been told my entire life was a big lie. My biological mother was actually a cocaine addict whose body was found wrapped in a rug, in decomposing state, inside a wardrobe in a hotel room. Cause of death was asphyxia. My biological father was involved in drugs at some level and apparently died later on. His name still remains unknown.
Her death didn’t come as a shock as much as the omission itself, especially because deep inside, I expected it to be something far worse than what I had been told. Plus, I don’t remember her at all, so I don’t have memories that make me miss her.
All of this happened after moving to Japan. I left my job as the senior manager of a big talent agency in order to focus on my career as a comic book colorist and what happened next wasn’t according to plan as jobs dried up practically overnight. I lived over an entire year practically jobless. Fortunately, I had savings from my manager days that held us up during my down time.
The truth about my past and the lack of jobs almost made me give up on everything on several occasions if it weren’t for a few people who supported me and insisted I kept trying.
Mike Deodato Jr., thank you for keeping my hopes alive when you insistently tried to get C.B. Cebulski’s attention on my work, assigning me jobs you weren’t supposed to and for all the free publicity, critiques and most importantly, for treating me like I’m one of yours.
Jan Kjær, thank you for being the most amazing guy I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, one I now have the pleasure of calling a friend. What you did and still do for me is beyond words. My wife and I have an immense affection for you and we can’t thank you enough.
Alice Ito - my wife and best friend - thank you for keeping me on my feet, putting up with me during my bad days, for always staying there to push me forward when I felt like stopping, for going out of your way to work a regular job to keep bills paid in order to give me a little peace of mind to just keep trying. I just can’t use words to describe how indebted and grateful I’m for having you in my life. Love you!
C.B. Cebulski, thanks a lot for taking your time to look at my samples and for making me believe I can reach the big ones someday. I’m sorry for screwing things up.
Chris Ryall and David Hedgecock, I’m very grateful for your kindness ever since my first contact. Thanks a lot for taking your time to look at my samples and for constant communication. This is what keeps my wheels turning.
Dave Marshall, Matt Gagnon and Jim Chadwick, thanks a lot for always being receptive to my samples and for taking your time to always reply to my e-mails. Means a lot!
Aaron Hubrich, thanks a lot for taking your time to listen to me and helping me with the networking. Those people really made a difference.
To all of you, this is my thank you for making me believe there’s still a light at the end of this tunnel.
— Leonardo Ito