Most of us ration our dreams like lembus bread, as we trudge along the path through to the dread Mordor of life. Nourished and sustained by our hopes but never defined by them. Most of us… but not Roger Shackleford.
As someone who has known Roger for years, and spent many of them shaking his head and wondering what’s wrong with the boy, I feel uniquely qualified to testify on his behalf should he be tried as a Dream Deviant under Lennon’s Law. Roger’s dreaming is self destructive. After years as DJ of his own college radio show, he went into his own pocket to fund an independent internet radio network in the same spirit while starting activities as a promoter of Japanese rock music in the US. At any point during this time Roger could’ve made the transition to a less niche market and possibly had a career as a DJ or music promoter for Western acts with more reach but instead he’s remained loyal to his brand and, god help him, his fans have remained loyal to him. That means he works odd jobs to feed his dreams which have grown hungrier and ever more insatiable as the years pass.
That’s because underneath that mop of long brown (sometimes blue) hair, Roger is as sincere as a heart attack. Even when the numbers are against him he somehow scrapes by and delivers the kind of experiences that stay with people. He doesn’t smell like a corporate asshole because he isn’t one. Roger is as indie as indie gets.
Which brings me to why I’m telling you this.
Roger has started self publishing a webcomic and it’s full of potential. He and artist Danny Kang have collaborated on the story of a rock band, not unlike the kind he grew up idolizing, called Fixer.
The story is narrated by Dakota Shaw in the present day. Caught in a depression about where his career has led him, he begins writing a journal, remembering the days with the 3 most important people of his life, Damien Miller, Naomi Halevi, Mamoru Kageyama, and their band “Fixer”. The story starts in 1998 with Dakota and Naomi in their senior year of high school, Mamoru having recently graduated, and Damien just starting in his freshmen year. The first story arc will go on to detail how they all met, their motivations for starting and joining the band, Dakota and Naomi’s graduation, and an experiment that leads the band to Mamoru’s home city of Tokyo, where the band finds their artistic direction.
I mean read that again. This isn’t a bullshit superhero story. It’s not about anime space rangers or a nerdy boy who is inexplicably surrounded by hot underage girls. It’s about real life struggles and friendships and the drama of heat applied to adolescent molecules. As someone who couldn’t get enough of Nana and it’s wonderful portait of Tokyo lives engulfed in the burning spotlight of the bright rock n roll lights, I want this to succeed.
Trouble is… these are hard times and the competition for someone’s hard earned mula is fierce to say the least. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The first step in this whole process is to go and read Fixer. It’s a strong start with intriguing (for what else could I call them after only one chapter) characters and top marks for presentation and art design. Don’t let Roger’s past works influence your decision to dive in. It may play to his strengths but you need not be familiar with Japanese rock to get into the story.
So go read it and perhaps when you’re done you could spare some lembus bread to help keep Roger and Danny’s dream machine running. I know I wanna see where the story is going and it’d be a shame if it were cut down before its tale is told.