Interviewed for the Baltimore, Maryland area show onboard the USS Constellation in Baltimore harbor!
By Josh Eiserike, firstname.lastname@example.org, Thursday, December 21, 2006
Patrick Strange wanted to kill himself.
He turned down art scholarships to follow his father’s footsteps in the Navy. An artist, writer and actor, Strange was without a creative outlet for the first time in his life in the late 1990s. “When you’re an artist, you’re challenging society," said Strange. Challenging society isn’t the way of the Navy - he’d see discrepancies between what happened on the ship and what was reported to the media. He was also disturbed by the occasional body floating in the water and didn’t like the toll military life had on his personal relationships. “I almost slit myself while on guard duty in the [Persian] Gulf," said Strange. “Luckily God was there for me and I threw the knife in the water."
Strange said that he decided to tough it out for the remaining couple of years he had left. He hooked up with some of the “creative folks" on board - the guys who were into hip-hop and slam poetry. He started going to open mics, and got back into the groove.
Strange, now 29, is a self-employed writer, graphic designer and actor, living in Woodbridge with his wife, Ebony.
“Patrick is a very passionate person who rarely lets a ‘no or negative response’ stand in his way," said Ebony Strange, 29. “He’s very driven and committed to whatever he sets out to achieve."
Strange recently quit his job with the State Department to pursue the arts full time. He said he’s tripled his income, running Temple Far East Entertainment, which includes his studio, Temple Studios, and production company, Far East Production. The name Temple Studios dates back to high school, in Charleston, S.C., inspired by the Wu-Tang Clan.
Strange has been acting for a while, getting his start with featured extra work in movies like “Ace Ventura 2" and “Die Hard with a Vengeance." (He’s also got an extra role in the upcoming sequel “Live Free or Die Hard.") He’s also working on a slew of independent films, including acting in Blind Alley Productions’ “Way of the Wicked" (“Saw" meets “Lord of the Rings").
“Patrick has a true passion for whatever he involves himself in," said “Way of the Wicked" director Mark Wagner. “Once he’s locked onto the scent and essence of a project, the possibilities of his involvement and imaginative contributions are limitless."
Tomiko Anders is directing a documentary called “Mergence," about multiracial people in America. Strange, whose father is white and mother is Filipino, was one of the subjects.
“Patrick is rare in that, although he is a professional actor/performer and has spent a great deal of time expressing himself publicly through his books, he was able to be open and honest about the questions posed to him during the interview," said Anders, 32, of Silver Spring, Md.
Those films are just the tip of the iceberg. Strange has seemingly countless other film projects in different states of development.
“There’s so much I can’t even list them all," said Strange.
He also hopes to start filming his own films next year, including a short, adapted from the first five pages of one of his comics, and a feature film, “Dorks of the Dead."
“It’s my ode to the Romero zombie films," said Strange. “It’s a dark comedy horror movie."
Born in San Diego to a military family, Strange’s childhood was scattered all over the globe.
“As a military brat, moving around place to place, I had no constant friends," said Strange.
He said his mother would buy him comic books from the military exchange. The monthly adventures of characters like Spider-Man and the X-Men provided Strange with a sense of consistency.
“Comics were my friends," said Strange.
Soon he began drawing his own. His grandmother was a painter and sent him art supplies. He studied “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way" and the “Wizard Magazine" art column “Brutes and Babes" by artist Bart Sears.
After leaving the Navy in 2000, Strange returned to comics, but as a writer, not an artist. He hit the conventions (some pros remembered him from his pre-Navy days) and hustled his science fiction book “Blood of Onyx" at local stores and on the Internet.
He’s since done comic work for non-profit organizations including the Time Dollar Institute in Washington D.C. and the Hero Initiative in Los Angeles and Colorado.
“I particularly enjoy his ‘Mr. Washington’ creation as it lends itself to promoting positive changes necessary in today’s society," said Ebony Strange, of the title character of “Time Dollars," a teacher who inspires students.
The Stranges also collaborated on a story called “The Who-Whats?" for their eventual children, which appeared in an anthology to benefit the Hero Initiative (formerly called ACTOR).
One of his older books, “Romeo Jones: The Adventures of Thong Raider" was based on Strange’s misadventures before he met his wife.
“I was a bit of a player," said Strange, adding that he used his many talents to woo the women.
On New Year’s Eve 1999, he went to the now-defunct Blackie’s in Springfield and saw a girl dressed “head to toe in black."
“You knew she wasn’t a club-goer because most women are skinned out in clubs," said Strange. “It intrigued me."
Patrick and Ebony were married in secret seven months later by a Justice of the Peace, a week before he was to be deployed for a final six months in the Gulf. When he returned, they had an actual ceremony with their families.
Strange said they rushed the ceremony because married men make more money in the military.
It might take people a few moments to descent the stairs to Strange’s basement studio. He’s got original comic art all over the walls - including a page from the Marvel Comic “Runaways," where the inker, Strange’s friend David Newbold, snuck in the words “Temple Studios."
The prize of his collection? A page from “The Adventures of Superman #538" by artist Mike Miller. The page features both Superman and Batman, working together and is dedicated to Patrick and Ebony. Sure, it has the two icons of the DC Comics universe, but to Patrick, there’s also a deeper meaning about his relationship with his wife.
“Together me and my wife can accomplish anything," said Strange.
Staff writer Josh Eiserike can be reached at (703) 878-8072.
“Blood of Onyx," Temple Studios, 2001
“Romeo Jones: The Adventures of Thong Raider," Temple Studios, 2001
“Time Dollars," Temple Studios, 2003
“More Fun Comics Anthology," featuring “The Who-Whats?," Skydog Press, 2003
“Gloom #0," letterer, 2004, Newbold Entertainment
“Jack Steel," letterer, editor 2004 David Dandorf Productions
To purchase any comics, contact Patrick through myspace.com/patrickstrange or his Web site, patrickstrange.com
By Josh Eiserike, 2005, http://www.examiner.com/dc
By David W. Crenshaw