SJPS Spotlight on Excellence: Shane & Chris Houghton
Shane Houghton, Class of 2004, Chris Houghton, Class of 2006, St. Johns High School
College degrees: Shane - BFA from Florida State University College of Motion Picture, Television and Recording Arts. Chris - BFA from College of Creative Studies in Detroit.
Profession: Shane - Comic book writer/creator, reality TV show editor, and TV animation developer. Chris - Comic book artist/creator, storyboard revisionist, character designer, and TV animation developer.
Achievements: Together, Shane and Chris have created Reed Gunther, a critically acclaimed comic book series about a goofy bear-riding cowboy. After being published by Image Comics, the Houghton brothers were tapped to help work on licensed comics such as Bart Simpson Comics, Adventure Time, Fanboys vs. Zombies and Peanuts. They currently have an animated TV show in development at Disney.
Chris earned a full-ride scholarship to CCS; was awarded the Jay Kennedy Scholarship from the National Cartoonists Society Foundation in 2009; and was selected as a winner in ImagineFX's "Rising Stars" 2012 competition.
The Houghton's live and work in Los Angeles, Calif.
How did your education at SJPS influence your career choice and life direction?
Shane: Chris and I were both heavily involved in the drama program where we acted, built sets, and even learned how to sing and dance. My senior year, I joined the band program after independently studying music. Every year since elementary school through high school I was involved in some sort of art class or program. That kind of exposure to tons of different artistic endeavors definitely helped influence us in becoming artists and creators.
Chris: It was mainly the teachers I had that influenced me the most. The courses, new buildings, etc. don't mean anything unless you've got excellent teachers behind it all. I'm very grateful to have had such great teachers and mentors that encouraged my interests and pushed me in the right direction.
Who are several teachers or staff who had a positive impact on your life?
Shane: Mr. Mark Horak was an incredible teacher and friend. I was very much into chemistry in high school and took classes with Mr. Horak for two years straight with Chemistry and AP Chemistry. I had a lot of friends in those classes and I'm pretty sure we joked around a bit too much. Mr. Horak (or Horka as my friends and I would sometime call him) always had an incredible sense of humor and used it to make dull lessons more entertaining. When Mr. Horak made Chemistry a class to look forward to, I learned that there can be entertainment in anything - even boring ol' science.
Chris: First and foremost for me was Mr. Roy Davis Jr. I had Roy as a music teacher from fifth grade until I graduated from high school. He's an incredibly wise and thoughtful teacher who is patient with his students and instills lessons that reach far beyond music. Barbara Markman also taught me and Shane so much through the high school theater program, and there are so many more teachers - Robert Sackrider, Kathy Montville, Kathy Heystek, Mrs. Spencer, Paul Sternburgh.
What SJPS academic, athletics and activities have helped to promote "excellence" in your career?
Shane: Mr. Robert Sackrider allowed me to take his Film As Lit class twice, which was not supposed to be allowed. I consider that class to be the most valuable class I took in high school. Mr. Sackrider suffered through many of my early attempts to create short films and he should be awarded some sort of medal for that. He always encouraged creativity, assigned strict deadlines, and gave truthful criticism - which was sometimes tough to hear. I had no idea that almost 10 years later, every boss of mine does what Mr. Sackrider was doing. Except they pay me.
Chris: Hands down, the theater, art, and music department were the most influential to me and my workings with Shane. These studies are so crucial in any school and it kills me when these departments are usually the first to get their funding cut. The work ethic I developed from doing jazz band in the early mornings and theater practice late into the night helped me in so many areas during college and now in the work force. I use acting techniques I learned on the stage then in my drawings and animation now (and in job negotiations!).
How did your education at SJPS shape you as a person; broaden your horizons; promote "excellence" in your daily life?
Shane: My education in the SJPS system was a huge influence on my life and abilities as a creator. I think "excellence" is the key word in what Chris and I are doing. No one wants to watch "okay" TV or read "moderately interesting" comic books. Excellence is going above and beyond the best, which is what we strive to do with all our work. Going to school in St. Johns exposed me to all sorts of experiences and allowed me to hone my interests as they developed.
Chris: SJPS helped provide us with a strong work ethic. That's all you really need to do anything in life. If you're willing to put in the time, you can do anything and go anywhere.
To view information on the Houghtons and their Reed Gunther comic book series visit http://reedgunther.com/
"SJPS Spotlight on Excellence," a monthly feature provided by St. Johns Schools Foundation for Excellence, focuses on St. Johns Public School alumni whose professional careers and personal accomplishments underscore the link between education and the development of well-rounded citizens whose lives have a positive impact on their communities and individuals far and wide.