- Contact Info
I'm the creator of Gleaners, Tom Doggett. I'd love to hear your comments, concerns, questions, rants, flames, proposals, ideas, and anything else you can muster up, if you'd like.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me, snail mail, at:
557 Wymount Terrace
Provo, UT 84604
Thanks, and have a great day!
- Storyline of Gleaners
The storyline of Gleaners is easy: it all really happened a long time ago, far, far away. In Portland, Oregon, actually. (That, and a little bit of a place called Provo. Not Provo, Spain, but Utah.)
Let me explain a bit. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (No, I'm not going to preach to you; our missionaries knock on your door often enough for me.) As such, when I turned 19 years old, I was old enough to serve a mission for my church if I wished (which I decided I did).
An LDS mission is a two year deal. You go off to anyplace in the world (you don't have a choice in where you go, only IF you go) for two years, many times learning a new language, and spend the whole time trying to talk to people and tell them why what you have will help them. That, and you have to pay around $10,000 to go. That's right: no paycheck.
Well, I decided that the sacrifice was worth it, and so I sent in my papers and was called to serve in the Oregon-Portland Mission from October 2001-October 2003. I went fort three weeks to a place called the MTC (Missionary Training Center) in Provo, and then spent two years in Portland, Tigard, Salem, Forest Grove, Cornelius, and Portland again.
A few weeks before I arrived in the MTC I had become firm in the idea of making a web comic. I had worked on ideas and styles, and had come up with an idea, but I wasn't sure what to do. Besides, with my mission coming up, I wasn't sure what I could really do with it.
Anywise, after entering the MTC, saying goodbye to my family, and getting settled in my room, I was feeling a little like a fish out of water. I was on the brink of seven-hundred-odd days of who-knew what. So, on a whim, I started to draw the first comic. When my district arrived, they saw the drawing, and thought it was cool, so, the next day when I had some free time, I drew out the funny experience we had when we didn't know what to do. After that, it was my district that kept me going every day. Almost every day I pulled something funny out of the day, and drew a short comic (usually before we went to bed).
Then, as the mission progressed, I found that it was very hard to keep up with such a pace. I tried, but it soon became a once-a-week thing (except when there was something special).
As I changed companions, so I also got more and more notoriety and fame through the mission. I even tried to get my comics published in the New Era, a church-published magazine for youth (they sent me a nice form letter talking about my "manuscript" and why they couldn't publish it, but to keep "writing"!). Now that I am home, I am fulfilling all of my dreams by making this comic into a web-comic.
My mission was probably one of the best things I've ever done. I grew as a person (I can see that just by reading my journals, both regular and comic), and I grew inside. I will admit that if I never have to knock on another person's door again I will be a very happy man, but I still have some great memories of doing that in Portland.
Well, that'll be all for now! I hope that this helps everyone to understand this all a bit more. Thank you for reading these comics, and I hope that you enjoy them!
- About the Author
My name is Tom Doggett. Any idiot could find it in a phonebook, so I'm not too paranoid about giving away my name and location. I am an aspiring writer, writing under a non-de-plume, so perhaps one day you will see my stories on the shelves.
I was born in the Provo Hospital on a stormy night nearly twenty-two years ago. I wish the story could have more drama and flair, but it was a pretty basic birth: I was inside, then I was outside, then I was poked, prodded, and spanked, then I fell asleep in a little blanket in my little blue bassinet. Not that I remember that, mind you, it's just there's no cool stories involved with it. No switching at birth, no baby-juggling nurses, no epic struggles of good and evil. The most that probably happened was I pooped my cute little diaper and drooled with my thumb in my mouth as I slept.
Later on, I went to school. After I grew up a little, of course. A baby going to school would have been interesting. I had a good time in school, but that probably wouldn't be interesting to you. I won't bore you with my stories of getting hit in the head by a catapulted rock (explains a lot, eh?), my first kiss and my childish reaction (eewwww!!!), and other stories.
I was accepted to Brigham Young University (aren't I just the cookie-cutter little Mormon?) in 2000, and started my studies in Physics-Astronomy. I joined a group of friends in The Quill and The Sword, BYU's Medieval History Club. They're good friends.
I saw September 11 happen on the news, and I don't think I'll ever forget it.
I served a mission to the Oregon-Portland Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from October 2001 to October 2003. It was one of the greatest things I have ever done, and probably not a day goes by where I am not reminded of a person, experience, or lesson I met with while there. Oregon is a beautiful place (though I really don't like the rain much), and I love the forest-covered hills and cliff-strewn seashores. The people are friendly and easy-going (as a religious person, I would say too easy-going, but they probably wouldn't mind on the whole if I did.) I may have problems with them politically, but on the whole it's a wonderful part of the country. To find out more about missions, read the "Storyline" of Gleaners, which is my comic strip journal from my mission.
So, now that I've been home awhile, and I'm fully acclimatized back to the real world (or as real as Provo ever gets), I am doing well. My future plans are still uncertain, but I may be leaning more towards archeology right now, or going back to my first love: genetics. I guess I still have a while to decide.
I've also gotten back into the groove with friends. Many of my friends either graduated or got married while I was gone, so they're no longer available for hanging out. Some of my good friends include Allison, Ben and Emily (who let me spend Saturdays at their house watching television and other things), among many other. Some of my old friends, like Aaron Holt, will be back soon, or (as in the case with Aaron) are already back.
I've never been much of an anime fan, but some of my friends have recently introduced me to some fun shows that are way better than that Pokemon/Speed Racer crap that I thought it all was. My favorites are Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky (basically anything by Hayao Miyazaki, except for Kiki's Delivery Service, which was just too cute for me), .hack//SIGN, and Slayers.
My sister's name is Mari Doggett, also attending BYU (Geology Teaching - Junior). She is currently single, but is waiting for (take a guess now) a missionary currently serving in Louisiana, Elder Ammon McNeff.
So that's it, for now.
- Mission Lingo
Elder/Sister - The title used by missionaries, based on the usage of the term in the New Testament and Doctrine and Covenants, a book of modern scripture. It doesn't mean that we consider ourselves old, but more like "teachers" which is what elder people do best. Missionaries prefer to go by the title of Elder or Sister for both traditional and religious reasons. It's not like we've "lost" our names. It's just that I was, on the mission, Elder Thomas Doggett, like local minister would be Revered James Monroe. You'd refer to him at Revered Monroe, and I'd prefer to be referred to as Elder Doggett, or just Elder, or just Doggett (though they told us not to do that).
Companion - Missionaries have, since the Restoration of the Church, gone about proselyting two by two, with rare and special exceptions. Thus, the person you go around with is your "companion." You don't stay in the same place for the whole two years, and you also don't have the same companion. I had a dozen companions myself, and about six areas. Some people you get along with great, and others you find that you have to get along through your common belief in what you're preaching and not much else! In companionships there is usually a Senior and a Junior companion, which denotes responsibility and authority, but they usually work together as a team.
Blue Planner - This is a sheet of blue paper with a weekly planner on it. It is what we write appointments, phone numbers, addresses, notes, and doodles on. Without the blue planner we're pretty clueless.
Transfer - When one missionary in a companionship goes to a new area and is replaced by another missionary making a new companionship. Also the term for the length of time between transfers.
P-Day - Preparation Day. This is the one day a week (actually more like half-a-day, because we have to be out proselyting again by 6:00pm) in which we are given free time to clean the apartment, wash clothes, buy supplies like food and mousetraps, and see the sites of the mission. Think of it like a mission weekend, except you can't sleep in and it's only twelve hours long.
Personal/Companionship Study - Every morning we wake up at 6:30am, and at 7:00 we have either personal or companionship study. Then, an hour later we have either companionship or personal study (note the difference). Basically, you have an hour to study from the scriptures (Bible, Book of Mormon, etc.) both personally and together. A source of some great strength in the mornings, but also a source of added sleep sometimes (imagine a young man drooling with his head laying on his open Bible with his eyes closed snoring loudly).
MTC - Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. This is like a little campus that helps prepare missionaries. A typical schedule for me included: studying the scriptures (have to know what you're teaching), eating, and sleeping. Throw in a little PE time, and you've got it all there. If someone is going on a foreign mission they tend to get a lot of language training, as well.
Investigator - What it sounds like, somebody who is investigating the Church for reasons of their own.
Tracting - The most famous (or infamous) aspect of Mormon missionary work. Knocking on doors is never anybody's favorite thing to do, but it builds character, and you'll never meet so many different people as you will going down a street. I guess I should say that some missionaries love the "thrill" of tracting, or are just so full of love that you want to talk to everybody, but I didn't like to tract. I remember MANY funny and great stories, and some wonderful things happens with people changing their lives, but it still doesn't mean that I like it. Getting doors slammed in your face isn't very reassuring to anybody. I'm sure the ancient Apostles of old, had they tracted (which I bet they did), would have agreed.
Bicycles/Cars - Missionaries are given cars and own their own bikes in order to get around. Obviously, cars are the preferred way to travel, but they are only given to areas that need them because of size or terrain, so they are a precious commodity. However, when it comes to talking to people, bikes are preferred, because it seems like the Mafia has arrived when guys in suits step out of a parked cars and approach you with smiles.
Name Tags - The little black rectangle on everybody's shirts and coats is a name tag. It says "Elder" (or Sister) So-and-So (you're last name), and identifies you with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since they're only for missionaries, we're asked not to wear them after the mission. I sure do miss my little black name-tag, and still keep it on my dresser.
Zone/District Conference - The mission is split into Zones, which are split into Districts, which are split into areas. Areas are where a companionship of missionaries works. A District is led by one of those missionaries, who is like the Senior Companion for the rest: in charge and responsible for their actions. A Zone Leader is a missionary from the Zone who presides over the Zone in the same way, and reports back to the Mission President on how everybody is doing (both in numbers, and also, more importantly, in terms of attitude and dignity). Conferences are held often (weekly for Districts, every transfer for Zones) where we meet together to discuss aspects of the gospel, especially those relating to missionary work (faith, hope, charity, and love). Zone Conferences are usually held in chapels because a Zone can be quite large with many missionaries. They can also be quite dry (in my opinion).
The Rules / The White Handbook / The White Bible - As servants of the Lord we are expected to act like it. Still, we are twenty-your old boys, and sometimes we need to be told in details what is and is not expected of us. Building on what are, I'm sure, countless examples, we have been given the White Bible. The Missionary Handbook is a small, thick, paper book sized to fit in a shirt pocket. It lists all of the rules that we are expected to live by (from the obvious, like "avoid riding bicycles after dark, in heavy traffic, or in adverse weather conditions", to the slightly-bizzare-wish-I-knew-the-story-that-prompted-this-rule "Never go swimming. You may play basketball, but not full-court or in organized leagues or tournaments"). It also lists many scriptures relating the worth of souls, missionary work, and Jesus Christ. It tells of the effective ways to proselyte (tracting is near the end of the list), and much more. Many of the rules, especially the ones that seem strange or hard to apply, like "always remain with your companion" (yes that means always, except for using the bathroom or sleeping in the same bed: those are no-no's), are not always followed by missionaries, to the great consternation of the mission president. Blessings depend upon obedience.