Jerry DeCaire has been illustrating comic books since 1991.
He always wanted to be an artist, and idolized Michelangelo and Leonardo DaVinci for their emphasis on the human form. He also liked reading comics. And one day, it occurred to him how great it would be to combine those things.
“Where in the 20th or 21st century, would you get as much opportunity to draw human figures as in comic books?” he said.
Saturday, he visited comic shop Heroes Haven in Roseburg, where he was surrounded by posters of his artwork depicting Marvel heroes like Thor, classic Wolverine and the wisecracking Deadpool. He also gave drawing demonstrations for fans.
DeCaire said one of the highlights of his career has been a 2011 feature about his work in China’s Fantasy Art Magazine, the biggest genre magazine of its kind in that country.
Part of the feature included his dedication and artwork depicting a very close friend, Brandi Hoffman, who had bipolar disorder and had recently committed suicide.
He describes his friendship with her an “ineffable relationship,” one that was hard to define, but “love friend” seemed to say it best.
It was through her influence that he became interested in near-death and transcendental experiences.
That’s the subject of his most recent project, a book he’s been illustrating called “God’s-In Men.”
It features the near-death experience of Eben Alexander, a Harvard neurosurgeon whose experience and the effect it had on his beliefs are the subject of the 2012 book “Proof of Heaven,” which has been featured on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday, Beyond Belief with Morgan Freeman, and the cover of Newsweek magazine.
DeCaire has himself experimented with altering his awareness, but is quick to note that he did it naturally.
“I do not take drugs. I don’t believe in it. I like my head the way it is,” he said.
DeCaire, who studied art and biology at Central Michigan University, also promotes science through a program called “Science of the Superhero,” in which he teaches young students how important science and math are to the work he does as an illustrator.
“I lend value to the things they often think are impractical,” he said.
Fan Bill Messner of Myrtle Creek brought some comic books with DeCaire’s illustrations of the Cisco Kid for him to sign Saturday.
“I love the anatomy you do on your characters,” Messner told DeCaire.
Messner, who works surveillance at the Seven Feathers Casino Resort, said being an artist was his dream job, but then “things happened.”
Brett White, owner of Heroes Haven, said it’s the second time DeCaire has visited the shop. The first was 21 years ago.
“This is some nostalgia for me,” he said. “Anybody who’s been working as an artist for 21 years has got something going on.”