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My name is Jared Hodges, and I'm a comic book author and illustrator. Since 2001, I've worked as a freelance artist, creating works combining disciplines and styles of Japanese animation and comics with American illustration, fantasy, and classical  

I was born in Rochester, New York in 1979, but raised in Winter Park, Florida. I spent the vast majority of my time at my father’s small business. There, my dad, who collected and played Avalon Hill strategy games, and whose library of sci-fi and fantasy novels filled bookshelves, indoctrinated me into the Cult of Nerd. An avid fan of technology, my father made sure my family had a computer long before it was commonplace. He also helped nurture my interest in art in a way only a nerd could; while other kids got cars on their sixteenth birthday, I got a Wacom Art IIZ digitizer tablet so I could draw pictures on the computer. 

My art reflects my interest in science, technology, and geek culture. When I was a child, I would make hand-drawn versions of video games like Super Mario Bros and the Legend of Zelda to entertain myself. I'd try to engage my friends to "play" them on notebook paper with me. My connection to video games carries into the present; I'm an avid gamer and continue to draw inspiration from the art of video games. 

Animation and comics enthralled me as a kid. My interest in these forms of media never ebbed. Along with the staple kid shows I grew up watching during the 1980s (Transformers, Thunder Cats, G.I. Joe), there was a cartoon imported from Japan and reworked for American television called Robotech. It stood out to me as more mature and dramatic than other kid shows. It created and cultivated my lifelong interest in Japanese pop culture. 

Though I pursued art throughout school, I failed to see it as a workable career. After graduating, I put art on the back burner, opting for work in the computer tech industry. However, in 1998, I met fellow artist Lindsay Cibos. She sparked my competitive fire, and helped renew my desire to create art. We began posting our artwork on an online gallery. By 2001, we had established ourselves as freelance artists, handling private and commercial commissions ranging from illustrations and character designs, to comics.

In 2003, Lindsay Cibos and I placed Grand Prize in Tokyopop's Rising Stars of Manga competition with our short story, Peach Fuzz. This helped propel my career towards sequential art. Working together, Lindsay and I spent the later portion of 2004 developing the Peach Fuzz concept into the full-length graphic novel series. While visually inspired by Japanese manga, the story is domestic. Set in a quiet mountain town in America, Peach Fuzz is about a nine-year-old girl, a prissy princess ferret, and the rift in understanding between people and their pets. The first volume of Peach Fuzz was published by Tokyopop in January 2005, and was later syndicated in Sunday newspapers across the globe in 2006. Volume 2 followed in October 2006. Volume 3 is set for a December 2007 release.

Between comics, Lindsay and I worked on a number of tutorial guides for Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter, regarding their use in digital artwork. In 2005, we created Digital Manga Workshop, published by HarperCollins. In 2006, we produced several tutorials for Corel Painter’s website and newsletters. We also contributed to Mangaka America, a tutorial/art book featuring 12 influential artists in the North American manga scene, published by Collins Design.

Having wrapped up production on the Peach Fuzz Volume 3, we’re talking with the publisher about developing a fourth volume. While that's underway, I’m sowing the comic book landscape with a number of ideas, in hopes that one takes root and develops into a worthy companion to our successful Peach Fuzz series. 

Most recently, I finished work on a short comic set in a fantastical Victorian-gothic town, about a character learning to let go of his impossible dreams after witnessing the fate of another who refused to do the same. I'm also working on a satirical web comic, Otaku Contemporary, which depicts the depravity surrounding modern geek culture. Aside from that, I'm a freelance drifter looking towards the bright future. Need an artist for a job? I know one. 

-Jared Hodges, December 2007jhodges@jaredandlindsay.com