That’s the typical response I get when I tell friends and family what I am up to these days. While they are a pretty open group, when I share that I am writing a comic script, well …
I don’t remember you ever reading comics.
To the outside world, I am a mom, a social worker, someone who drives a manual classic American muscle car and, for some reason, wears wrestling shoes.
I meditate and teach an occasional class or workshop on the subject. I’m that person people open up to — Grocery store clerks, hairstylists, plumbers, just about anyone … I somehow tend to draw out their deepest thoughts and stories. And that makes me happy.
I’m an avid hiker. I love the mountains and become unnaturally upset when trees are cut down.
I’m happily married to the love of my life. And I continuously marvel at what wonderful people my children are evolving into.
I am a good cook, and am always looking for time to share a meal with family and friends. I adore revenge movies, have a twisted sense of humor and read avidly. Art moves me deeply and I seek it out whenever I can. I have a solid eye for design and can make just about anything look nice if I put my mind to it. Some of my deepest satisfaction in finding just the right gift for someone.
But none of that or anything else in my life would have hinted that one day I would be doing anything with the word “comic” in it.
I fell into comics backwards and have been falling for them ever since.
I will never forget the weekday afternoon years ago when I was waiting outside of my daughter’s preschool with a group of other parents. Classes had just started for the fall, and none of us were used to our kids being in someone else’s care. So … we all came early and camped out in front of the school waiting for our kids like the nervous newbies we were.
I was sitting on a low brick wall outside the school reading Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I was completely lost in the story, and therefore shocked when the book was ripped from my hands.
“OH MY GOD THIS IS AMAZING,” the book ripper exclaimed. “Don’t you just love him? Have you read Stardust? The Graveyard book? American Gods? Anansi Boys? Is this your first? How did you find him? Oh my God, I wish I hadn’t already read this. I am so jealous!”
I couldn’t place the woman as I was still digesting the fact that my book was no longer in my hands. I quickly learned all about her and relationship with Mr. Gaiman’s world. It was odd to say the least. It wasn’t until we had children in hand and were headed home that she said casually, over her shoulder, “I almost forgot, be sure and check out The Sandman series.”
The exchange was so strange, I couldn’t ignore it. For all I know I had just met Mr. Gaiman’s Annie Wilkes. But she was so passionate that I was curious and decided to heed her advice. So I picked up Preludes & Nocturnes. It was the first comic book I ever read. I was expecting Adam West and Burt Ward. What I got instead was an invitation into a whole new world. I was amazed at depth of the stories being told in this medium, the beauty of the art, and the emotions that came through. Something inside of me woke up.
For longer than I can remember, I have had stories swirling around in the back of my mind. But words and I have never been very close friends. Grammar and I are hardly on speaking terms. Once I started envisioning these stories as comics, seeing what could be done in the medium … all these dispirited thoughts and ideas, snippets and wisps began to come together.
Very quietly, I began studying the art and craft of comic book creation.
I started with the basics, took classes, and read anything I could get my hands on. I learned about writing, line art, inking, coloring, production, anything I could find on the subject. My first story was a tiny, five-page story about an elderly foster mother who dies, but stays on earth to hold and comfort recently-deceased babies and help their grieving parents. Since then, I have written a twenty-four-page script, an eighty-eight-page, four-part mini-series, and some stories in between. Those were all growing into and laying the groundwork for the graphic novel script I have now.