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 the second grade, and he’s been in and out of hospitals, group homes, youth programs and foster homes.
But through it all, Thompson has always had a multitude of places to escape to; worlds run by clans of ninjas, or where alien beings fight one another to determine the fate of the universe.
“When I’m at home, all I do is watch anime or read comic books,” Thompson said. “I have been drawing for a good many years. I never got to do art classes in school because I kept getting into fights … So I started drawing at the house. I draw comics with my little brother. We’ve never done books or anything, but we write stories together. ”
With the help of a retired teacher, Thompson has created one of those worlds of his own, and he 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 counselor who for the last five years has been working one-on-one with Thompson in a diploma program at Turning Point Academy.
“When we started working on this, he had all of these ideas in his head, and I just started writing it down and out of his head he told the whole story from start to finish,” said Ramsey. “He did all of the written work, all of the art work. I just encouraged him, and I bought the book and the blank paper. ”
“Eron and the Distant Earth” follows the story of an angel looking to live a peaceful life while being pursued by rival beings, bounty hunters and another ne’er do wells.
The story, Thompson said, draws inspiration from 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 settled on making it an action adventure,” he said. “I just like dabbling in different stuff; anime and super heroes, horror, we’ve got a little bit of comedy. I like to put all of that together. ”
The story is told through blocks of text complemented by drawings of each of the masked men who make up the story, their spiked hair and numerous weapons filling each page.
“This is just the first part of the story. I want to do a sequel. I’ve got all these characters made, 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’m using my hands or doing something that keeps my body occupied, I’m able to concentrate better. I’m able to get more into my mind while I’m doing something. If I’m just sitting there listening, I start staring off into space and trying to find something to keep me interested, “he said.
“He would start talking, and he talks very fast. I’m from New York, and I talk fast and he talks as fast as I do. I just started writing things down. It all just came out of his head. He is so talented, “she said.
For most of her career, if Ramsey saw a student drawing in the middle of a lecture, she might have reprimanded them. But when she came to Turning Point Academy and started working with Thompson only for him to start drawing away on his notebook, she decided to lean into it.
“I found if he is able to draw while I am teaching, he learns much more effectively,” she said. “And if you give him music to listen to while he does his work, he does even better.”
In an effort to encourage her 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 finished, Ramsey is looking for opportunities for him to improve his art and better tell his stories.
“This is what he is good at. Next year he needs 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 knows how to 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.