This is part 2 of my look at the importance of family support in creators’ careers. To read my fancy intro, check out part one here.
Here is a brief recap: I am a writer. I just got engaged to my girlfriend of five years. She is not a geek (Oh no, GASP). I wonder how to balance my relationship and career.
Meanwhile: Many of the comic creators I look up to do just that—find balance as they attain success. Actually, these comic creators credit their families’ support as being one of the most important aspects of their success. Just ask Jeff Smith. Or Brian Michael Bendis. Or Terry Moore. Or N. Steven Harris. Or Erica Schultz. Or Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez. (see Part 1 for the last four)
So I wondered, do they all just date geeks or artists? Are their families insane? In a field that is so consuming like comics, how do these creators juggle their personal lives and their careers?
At NYCC, I was a sneaky sneak and delved deep into creator’s personal lives. Welcome to Love & Comics: Creators on the Importance of Family–Part 2.
Prominent Work:Girls Night Out
On her husband being a geek:
“He doesn’t think he’s a geek. He’s a geek in denial. I think anyone who can quote from the Silmarillion verbatim is a geek. Don’t you think? … He thinks it’s literature. ”
During her college years, Amy was a comic head, but when she entered the workforce, she stopped reading. In 2010, a friend recommended she take an online class about creating comics through Ex-Marvel Editor Andy Schmidt’s Comics Experience. Amy took the class “for fun;” she then took nearly every class offered. Amy started self publishing her own comics.
Now that Amy is a successful indie writer/publisher who has had work published by DC, the family has comics all over the house. Her hubbie has also been exposed as a comic book fanboy. Amy skirts the line between mainstream and indie comics, but her hubbie is straight up Big Two. At the time of the interview, her husband was geeking out because they were invited to the DC NYCC after party.
On whether he reads her work:
“I actually don’t necessarily let him read my stuff. … I think he probably reads it on the fly. But I don’t write the kind of stuff he reads, so, you know. … I think it’s probably healthier that way. He does his thing. I do my thing. If he starts reading my stuff and starts trying to be helpful and offering me, ‘Hey, how about you do this plot this way?’ I’d be kind of pissed.”
On if she runs ideas by him:
“Never. Never run anything by him. Maybe it bothers him. It doesn’t bother me. I don’t run anything by him.”
On how family influences her books:
“A lot of my stories are very relationship-based. So even though it’s not about my family, I’m definitely more attuned to emotions and family relationships and things like that… The way I write is influenced by life-experience, because, for example, the first Girls Night Out, I have a story about a war veteran reminiscing about his time and talking about meeting his wife and having kids, and that kind of thing. I wouldn’t have written that story before when I was a single person.”
Note: At one of the many indie panels she has led, Amy boasted that her kids are often either hiding under or running around her booth. Cute. So dang cute.
(Kathleen, Peter and his daughter Ariel, giving her dad bunny ears)
Peter David’s wife Kathleen David was helping Peter out throughout the con and answered questions about her relationship with the comic icon.
Peter David’s Prominent Work: The Incredible Hulk, Aquaman, Young Justice, Supergirl, X-Factor, Spider-Man 2099, Fallen Angel, Star Trek, loads of other stuff
Peter David’s Awards: Eisner Award, Wizard Fan Award, Haxtur Award, OZCon award, Comic Buyers Guide Fan Award, Julie Award, GLAAD Media Award.
On her geek cred:
“I’m not quite old-school fandom. I started going to conventions in 1979 and I managed a comic book shop. I used to be the tech director at Dragon Con way back before the two of us hooked up, way back when Dragon Con first started. So, I have a solid geek background.”
On meeting Peter:
“We met at a Star Trek convention where I made a set of four Klingon puppets, and he needed a puppet for something he was doing so he bought one of the Klingon puppets. So the Klingon puppet came with a half hour lesson. We work it out and we do the half hour lesson, and the Con committee came over to me like, ‘Oh my God, Peter David bought your puppet.’ It’s like, ‘OK, that’s nice.’”
“I go home that night, and I have my Star Trek novels, and I’m looking at them, and I have my favorite ones on top and on top I see Q-In-Law, Peter David. And I go, ‘That Peter David.’”
On reading his work:
“I read a lot of it before everybody else does. So especially with the comic books, I can’t discuss any of his comic books because I’m probably about 2 or 3 issues ahead, and I’m not quite sure when the issues come out and where everybody is. So people ask me questions about Peter’s comics, and I’m kind of like, ‘I don’t know where you are as opposed to where I am, so I can’t really discuss it.’ … Somebody says something and I know is wrong, because I know something is happening in 2 issues, but I can’t say anything. I’m just going to let them be wrong for 2 issues, and then I’ll get them straightened out.”
On how she helps out:
“We’re very collaborative. In other words, if he’s having an issue, like something’s kind of stuck in his head or something, we’ll talk it out and I’ll give him my ideas on the subject and sometimes he’ll use them and sometimes he won’t use them.”
“And the nice thing, besides the fact, especially when we collaborate together, which we’ve done on a number of projects, is, we’re perfectly willing to say to the other person, ‘That’s idiotic.’ Not meaning it mean or anything, just like, that’s not working. And then we go back to what works and go on from there.”
On hitting up the cons as a family:
“it’s a lot of fun. It’s even better when you have a chair to sit down on. … My two step-daughters and his daughter have all been raised in the fandom environment. They’ve gone to conventions all over the world… and they have a lot of fun doing it. And our daughter, Caroline, is the full geek. I mean, she loves Adventure Time, but she also, she reads X-Factor religiously. She reads the scripts. Then she reads the comic books. She does it without the art, and then she does it with the art.”
“Peter and Caroline collaborated on a novel together called Fearless. She dresses up as Astrid from How to Train Your Dragon. She’s got other costumes she’s done over the years, and all the rest. She’s a happy, well-rounded, geek kid.”
Prominent Work: Morning Glories
Awards: Eisner Award nominated
On his girl being a geek:
He says she is “not as much into comics as I am but she’s definitely into geek culture. … She’s more into prose novels, she’ll read all the Hunger Games books and Harry Potters and all that stuff.”
On his girl reading his stuff:
“Morning Glories is the first thing of mine that she’s actually remotely interested in. Anything else I’ve worked on, I’d get copies and she doesn’t care, but she’s actually liked the story of Morning Glories so… when we get the complimentary copies she wants an issue immediately to read.”
It doesn’t bother him that she doesn’t read his other work because it “wasn’t stuff that was particularly interesting for or to her.” He says, “I figured Morning Glories would be the same thing but she just got hooked on it.”
On how much his family influences his work:
“So much. I put my son in the book at one point, I drew him in there. He was three years old at the time and he didn’t understand… and he still doesn’t. He’s six now, he doesn’t understand, like, ‘What? You drew me in your comics?’ But, yeah… Obviously I do all this for them but little instances of behavior with the kids I’ll kind of file away in my brain. Dealing with the nature of the story line we have, it time travels a lot, so we will deal with the kids as small children too, so mannerisms I pick up from my boys I’m like, ‘Okay, I can put that in the book.’”
So what did I learn? To balance my work and personal life by giving my fiancée breaks from annoying her with work talk. I learned that she doesn’t have to fangirl out for everything, or anything, I do. I learned I can be a total comic-book headed geek, and exist in a healthy, positive, strong relationship. That was something I didn’t always believe in. I learned I can be a geek dad; with geek kids, and I can maybe even sneak their faces into my work. I learned how lucky creative folk are to have families that support us on our paths. How lucky we are to have families that didn’t call us crazy… actually, in my case, how lucky I am to have a family that knows I am insane but still supports my crazy behind .
I needed to write this article because I needed to hear it. I was the cat who took five years to pop the question. Who was so afraid of my girl leaving but terrified of starting a life with her. I was the cat who believed that marriage and kids would derail my career.
We just started looking at venues for the big day.
I am moving forward, baby.
Photo Credits: Amy Chu pic from her website. Kathleen David and family pic from Elayne Riggs. Joe Eisma pic from Comic Art House.
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