My name is Jande Rowe and I’m the author and artist (pencils, inks, lettering, colours) of Aedre’s Firefly, the graphic novel, as well as the more humorous Wheeler’s Orbits, a space misadventure series (coming some year in the future).
I’m just a high-strung cranky old lady who was never socialised properly and therefore never grew up, and who would rather draw than anything else. I was born in England, raised in Canada, and now reside in upstate New York with my wonderful talented and creative husband, James S. Allen (abstract artist, author, programmer, and game designer).
I’ve been an artist since I smeared tubes of toothpaste on the bathroom walls as a toddler. In grade school, I began reading comics like Millie the Model and Brenda Star. Then Archie, and all those Haunted House and spooky ones, then DC and Marvel superhero comics. In the third grade, I realised that I could draw faces in 3/4 view by drawing and modifying the number 3.
In my teens and early twenties, I started making doodles and created comic characters of plants and animals that eventually I turned into greeting cards I sent to friends, some coloured, but most in black and white line drawings. I made posters for my theatrical friends, and large doodle-art posters and colouring books for the stoned ones. I started painting in acrylics and then oils, and have even worked in water colours though I never felt I mastered those. My painterly work has been mostly landscapes and abstracts, though I’ve done some commissioned portraits in oils and acrylics. My works have found their way into homes in Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the States, and Germany.
But my friends kept telling me I should draw cartoons. They nagged me for years, but in those days my self-esteem was too low to follow up on that. It was during recovery from a protracted thyroid illness that I realised I needed to do something about the cartooning.
A few years ago, I conceived of a short story about a little boy who, knowing nothing about fireflies, caught one and put it in a jar where he found it dead the next morning, and then strange things happened. I even drew all the thumbnails for it, made a number of concept and character sketches. But as I drew these the concept began to change. First to a little girl, then to the realisation that this particular little girl had a story to tell. A bigger story. A story of being handed one less-than-stellar life, and having the help and the fortitude to turn it into another kind of life. The story kept growing in my mind until it turned in to a journey of sorts. So I decided to take courage in hand and get it started. And yes it eventually involves fireflies.
Being mostly self-taught as an artist has had its drawbacks. I wish I could have arranged my life so that I could have gone to university and learned more about art and graphics. There was a time when I knew that the things I drew were not “right”, but couldn’t for the life of me get them right. My epiphany was learning how to draw using the rules of perspective, using a point of view and a grid at first, now I only use the grids for really tricky stuff. A major art tool I learned a few years before I turned thirty.
The funny thing is that I have lived all my life with an undiagnosed visual problem. The transparent skin on the behind the lenses of my eyes is more like thin transparent bubbly orange peel than the smooth and clear skin most people have. If I remember correctly it is called Corneal Dystrophy (Fuchs Endothelial Dystrophy) . It breaks up and scatters every bit of light that enters my eyes and makes bright light glaring and painful, and making things that don’t have much contrast almost impossible to see. Sometimes I can’t actually see the line I’m drawing or even the tip of the pen or stylus. But it also creates a soft glow around the most ordinary things. That’s the way I see the world. The art I create has that glow around it too, but I expect its not really there, just a trick of the scattered light from my broken eyes.
Unfortunately, I’m told by eye-surgeons that the layers in my eyes are separating and that I will probably go blind unless I have corneal transplants. They can’t guarantee that the operation will work, nor that the dystrophy won’t just gradually take over the new cornea. So I’m gradually growing more and more blind. Fortunately, I’ve drawn things every day of my life since I could hold something with which to draw and now I can draw with my eyes closed. ;`)
At age 25, I taught myself to play the guitar and have since written over a hundred songs, which I have performed in coffee houses and clubs. The songs are mostly in a folk-jazz fusion style. You can listen to one of them by clicking on the link in the left sidebar. James and I have collaborated on a few songs, too, and those are some of the best ones. I have done a number of digital instrumental compositions, as well.
I’ve written reams of poetry, and many short stories, as well as the completed drafts of four novels.
I am currently working on my sixth novel . —Aaaand done! So six novels now. Working on the seventh! Aaaand done! Those may never be published since I am totally daunted by the very idea of plunging in to edit them and polish them up for that purpose.
But Aedre’s Firefly will continue to be edited and polished and published until my eyes and hands fail me completely.