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Name
Jeff Freels
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From website:

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 1993.

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 chuggin' away.

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 there.

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 now dialyze side by side at the clinic.

Every cent Jeff earns from his writing and artwork goes into the JeffWerx Transplant Fund.

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