Freelance Spot Illustration by David Stroup regarding a coyote spotting. Stroup still does illustrations though not as much freelance as he would like to while balancing other jobs. Illustration by David Stroup.

Franklin physics teacher David Stroup, has taught at Franklin for six years now. Many of his students know him for the creative cartoons drawn on whiteboards and homework packets, but where did this all start?

Well, his cartooning began while attending Kalaheo High School in Hawaii where he grew up. He was part of the school paper and had his own comic strip, which followed him into his college paper at the University of Hawaii Manoa. While Stroup majored in physics, his involvement extended to the school paper, student government, and other classes such as creative writing. Stroup also got into freelance cartooning during college and started to create the occasional hired illustration.

Out of college, Stroup was hired by KHVH, a local news station, and began his two decade journey into radio journalism. This journey brought him to work for Hawaii public radio as a reporter, an anchoring news caster, and the host of an arts talk show. When he moved to Portland, Oregon, Stroup worked under KEX and KEWS doing newscasts before his switch to papers. He wrote for the Clackamas Review and Oregon City News for nine years, beginning as a writer, but ending up as the editor for the paper. Stroup’s cartooning was most prominent during this time; he was doing freelance work, editorial cartoons, and a large amount of online webcomics.

“I’ve written a couple of novels, I’ve got another one that I’m making progress on and then every time summer ends and classes start again I run into a wall and progress slows down,” says Stroup. He published his first book in the 90’s, the start of a science fiction series, titled “Machine Code.” “I was into science fiction before anime even started to crossover,” says Stroup. “My original love was literary science fiction: Asimov, Heinlan; and literary fantasy like Tolkien.” These novels are one way Stroup continues to create while being a teacher at Franklin.

Why did Stroup not continue into journalism and writing? Well, the writing and journalism turned into a more uneventful life of professional editing. After working at newspapers, Stroup worked at Hoffman Construction for four years doing marketing writing. In the construction field, the writing is from business to business, not advertising. “It was writing big technical documents explaining why that best company is the best one to be hired for some sort of large job like the state hospital or building a high rise.” Nonetheless, it was more writing and job experience that he could look back on. After Hoffman, Stroup went back to school for two years to earn his masters in physics, followed by another two years of reteaching himself concepts and catching back up to his physics career.

While Stroup has been a full time teacher for several years now, he still uses his extensive writing and editing skills on the side. He does this through professional editing for grant writing, which is nowhere near as much fun as writing a novel, but it turns the writing experience into an actual side hustle to support his family. Grant writing is largely for universities looking for money to support new undergraduate programs, so he gets to see a lot of interesting programs come through. Stroup is just part of the team though, since actual grant writing is closer to a full time job; he spends his time editing, cleaning up, and proofreading others’ work.

“My original hope was to do more science journalism. Back when I started, big newspapers would have a science page or a science section and a science editor and would support that stuff, and that is not much of a thing anymore; newspapers have shrunk so much since then,” says Stroup. At the start of each physics class, Stroup brings up a cool bit of science news going on in the world, as well as drawing excellent diagrams and cartoons to help teach lessons, a fun way to incorporate parts of his past careers.

Another defining characteristic of Stroup is his love for science fiction, fantasy, and anime (especially Studio Ghibli). His whole family shares this fondness as they binge watch Fullmetal Alchemist, the Avatar series, and go to Comic Cons regularly. Last year at Comic Con, Stroup put up a panel with Franklin AP US History teacher Greg Garcia about using science fiction and fantasy in the classroom. A few years ago, Stroup and another cartoonist had a table together at Stumptown Comic Fest, a smaller, local-creator focused convention that is not around anymore.

Whether you need a proofreading of your college essay or the projectile distance of a cannonball, Stroup has the vast career experience to help you out. In regards to cartooning and writing, Stroup would “like to find more time to do both of those, [but] it’s not easy being a teacher.” Nonetheless, Stroup’s careers have left him with a wealth of knowledge that always finds its way into the classroom.

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