by Bevan Thomas
At one of Cloudscape Comics’ Wednesday meetings, I sat down to chat with Jeff Ellis, the organization’s founder, as around us numerous fellow cartoonists worked on their own projects.
- Jeff Ellis
In many ways, Jeff’s appearance captures the archetype of the “geek” in the best possible way; a slim, bespectacled bright-eyed man with a mouth rarely far from a gentle smile. He is approachable and unassuming, even shy, and yet when he speaks, his words are confident, thoughtful, and earnest. Dedicated to his own projects, but always interested in the works of others, welcoming to new associates but always loyal to old ones; perhaps he above anyone else embodies the creativity and openness of Cloudscape.
“You’ve spent most of your life in Vancouver?” I asked.
“Yeah. I grew-up here. Though I did live for two and a half years in Japan, from 2004 to 2007.”
“What made you decide to go to Japan?”
At this question, Jeff dropped his gaze in slight embarrassment. “I wanted a fresh start.”
“A fresh start?”
“I’d graduated from college,” Jeff began, “a three-year program in graphic design, and couldn’t find a job. Any art job, I mean. I was working retail and was sick of it; I wanted a change. A friend of mine had gone to Japan before and had found it easy to get a teaching job; so she suggested I give it a shot.”
“Did you have an interest in Japan before talking with your friend?”
“Sure. Actually, I was studying the Japanese language at the time. I had been unemployed for a few months and another friend had recommended that I take a class since it would add structure to my life.”
“Yeah, it is really important to incorporate structure if your life is otherwise without it,” I said. “You must have adapted well to Japan, considering how long you stayed there. What about the country did you love the most?”
“I loved riding the trains to and from work; the subway and light rail system there is amazing!” Jeff smiled dreamily. “I also really loved that there were ancient Shinto shrines everywhere. If you ever needed a quiet place to meditate, there was always one nearby. Oh and the food; Japanese food is great! And I ain’t just talkin’ about sushi.” He laughed. “I loved oyako-don, tako-yaki, and yaki-nikku. I guess in general I loved the peace and tranquillity, and that everyday seemed a new adventure.”