For Jeffrey Veregge meeting fans never gets old. There was a time, not so long ago, when he was just a fan himself.
"It amazes me that people search me out because I used to do the same thing. I still do the same thing. It's hard not to geek out," said Veregge.
He may still get star struck from time-to-time, like a few years back when he met the legendary Stan Lee, but now Veregge is a rising star in his own right. A comic book artist who has gained a serious following thanks to his unique style, a mix of traditional graphic design techniques and Native American formline design.
"I've gotten to work on Star Trek, I've gotten to work on Spiderman, X-Men, Transformers, GI Joe. Everything I've loved as a kid. I wish I could go back and tell that kid, you're going to work on these some day and have a lot of fun doing it."
Jeffrey's success is the culmination of a journey more than 20 years in the making. A personal quest to pursue his dreams. Like all good stories, his starts with a decision, one that would ultimately change the course of his future.
"I was in tribal council, actually. I was sitting in on an interview with the FBI. I was given the opportunity to be an intern and then an agent," describes Veregge.
Jeffrey is a member of the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe. As a newly married man, and a new father, the FBI offered a stable career path, but it wasn't his passion.
"I got home and told my wife, hey this isn't going to work. I think I'm going to go to art school."
After graduating with honors from the Art Institute of Seattle, Veregge studied with David Boxley, a Tshimshian master carver from Alaska.
For a time he painted, but something was missing.
"Every time I created a piece I was thinking, okay will this sell? I need to make sure this sells. Will people like this? And it was the wrong philosophy, the wrong way to create things."
So Jeffrey decided to start having some fun, using aspects of formline design to create comic book art. It's a style that's all his own, one that puts him squarely at the center of pop culture all while showcasing his culture.
"I'm telling the stories of today, and that's what's so cool about it is that it's continuing on. It's a continued tradition of storytelling, and I'm just going the stories that I know."
The coming year promises to be a big one for Veregge. He's working on Demicon, his first original book. And he's got a massive new project in the works, one that will see him working with some huge names. We know what's in store, but we're not saying. After all, this is Jeffrey's story to tell. It's still far from finished, but when it is, oh what a story it will be.
"Anytime you get to do an iconic character and put you thumbprints on the history of that character, it's an amazing feeling. You know, I'm going to be in the archives. You can't take that away. My kids, my grandkids, they will all see that and say ' grandpa, you did that'. And I'm looking forward to those days. It's just that pride to be able to add something to the characters and worlds that you love so much."