There have been many ups and downs in Dajshun Thompson’s young life. The 17-year-old says he hasn’t been in a traditional school setting since second grade and has been in and out of hospitals, group homes, youth programs and residential homes. welcome.
But through it all, Thompson has always had a slew of places to get away from it all; worlds ruled by clans of ninjas, or where extraterrestrial beings fight to determine the fate of the universe.
“When I’m home, all I do is watch cartoons or read comics,” Thompson said. “I’ve been drawing for many years. I never took an art class in school because I kept fighting…So I started drawing at home. I draw strips drawn with my little brother. We never made books or anything, but we write stories together.
With the help of a retired teacher, Thompson has created one of these worlds and is looking for ways to share it with others.
Titled “Eron and the Distant Earth,” the book is a collaborative effort between Thompson and Merry Lynn Ramsey, a retired high school teacher-turned-counsellor who for the past five years has worked one-on-one with Thompson in a degree program at Turning Point Academy.
“When we started working on it he had all these ideas in his head, and I just started writing it and out of his head he told the whole story from start to finish,” said said Ramsey. “He did all the written work, all the artwork. I just encouraged him and bought the book and the blank paper.
“Eron and the Distant Earth” follows the story of an angel seeking to live a peaceful life while being pursued by rival beings, bounty hunters, and other ne’er do wells.
The story, Thompson said, is inspired by some of his favorite anime, Naruto and Dragon Ball, as well as the Chronicles of Riddick film series.
“It was supposed to be kind of like a horror and anime type book, but we decided to make it an action adventure,” he said. “I just like to try different things; anime and super heroes, horror, we have some comedy. I like putting it all together. »
The story is told through blocks of text supplemented by drawings of each of the masked men who make up the story, their hair spiky and numerous weapons filling each page.
“This is just the first part of the story. I want to do a sequel. I created all of these characters, and I have all of their abilities and everything planned out,” Thompson said.
Ramsey said the entirety of Thompson’s story came while he was in class with Ramsey discussing biology and climate science.
“When I use my hands or do something that occupies my body, I can concentrate better. I can get into my mind more while I’m doing something. If I’m just sitting there listening, I start staring into space and trying to find something that interests me,” he said.
“He was starting to talk, and he talks really fast. I’m from New York, and I talk fast and he talks as fast as I do. I just started writing stuff. It all just popped out of his head. He’s so talented,” she said.
For most of her career, if Ramsey had seen a student drawing in the middle of a lecture, she might have scolded him. But when she came to Turning Point Academy and started working with Thompson only for him to start sketching in his notebook, she decided to give it a shot.
“I’ve found that if he’s able to draw while I’m teaching, he learns much more effectively,” she said. “And if you give him music to listen to while he does his job, he does even better.”
In an effort to encourage his student, Ramsey not only bought the materials for the book project, but also new pencils and sketchbooks for Thompson to use in class.
Now that Thompson’s first book is complete, Ramsey is looking for opportunities for him to improve his craft and tell his stories better.
“That’s what he’s good for. Next year he has to do an internship. Wouldn’t it be ideal if he could incorporate his talent into an internship,” she said. “He knows music. He knows the Bible. He can draw. His knowledge of history is amazing. It would be great if someone could help him and maybe give him a future.”
Dustin George can be reached at 704-669-3337 or Dustin.George@ShelbyStar.com.