Father’s Day

Since it’s Father’s Day today, let me tell you a little story about my Dad.

Beyond raising me and letting my brother and I grow up as comic book loving RPG-playing nerd boys, he helped me start on this weird and wonderful career in comics.

The year is 2002. I’m living in Halifax working at a small animation studio, struggling to get by. Finances are tight, way tighter than my girlfriend and I had planned when we decided to move out east. Work isn’t steady. It’s a stressful and difficult time.

One of the only things going well was the little webcomic I was creating in my spare time. It was called the Makeshift Miracle (yes, the same one I relaunched with UDON and am rebuilding now a decade later). Three times a week I would work away in the evening creating new pages and posting them online, learning about comic storytelling – what worked and what didn’t. Even when everything else was a mess, I could focus a bit on Makeshift and feel like I was making creative progress.

With San Diego Comicon coming up fast and furious, there was a lot of talk among webcomic creators about being at the show. Joey Manley was organizing a Modern Tales get together. Scott McCloud was insistent this was the year webcomics would really break out and make an impression on mainstream comic readers. It was exciting times. Still, no matter how amazing it sounded, there was no way I’d be able to attend. My finances were shot and my credit card was maxed.

When Dad heard about this convention, he asked me flat-out.

“I know the comic thing is your hobby, but is this trip important?”

I couldn’t really say it was. Not really. It was just a comic convention. A bunch of webcomic people meeting in person and hanging out isn’t “important”. But it felt like it was the start of something exciting and just about everyone I knew and respected creating comics online at that point was going to be there. Even though I told my Dad that it wasn’t important, he could tell deep down I kind of thought it was.

That was that. He cleared my credit card bill and insisted that I book a flight to San Diego. He helped push me that crucial last step. I attended my first comic convention thanks to his immense generosity and kindness.

I cut as many corners as possible and used every contact I had to make it work. My friend Cam drove me to the airport on the back of his motorcycle so I didn’t need a taxi. My friend Aeire picked me up at the airport so I wouldn’t have to pay for a cab in California either. I split meals and made PB&J sandwiches. I crashed on hotel floors and friends’ couches, leaning on everyone I even vaguely knew, many of whom had never even met me in person before.

It was worth it. The friendships I made that week in San Diego helped me feel like I was part of a larger creative community. It inspired me to want more from my art and stories. Less than a year later, after a roller coaster ride of ups and downs personally and financially, I started working at UDON.

I’ve attended San Diego Comicon every single year since. In a few weeks it’ll actually be my 10th SDCC in a row and, no matter how crazy and frustrating it can be at times, I feel it’s an important annual milestone for me. A good time to look back at where I’ve been and where I hope to be in the years ahead.

My father helped make my silly comic book dream a reality.
It’s just one of the many reasons I’ll forever be in his debt.

Love ya, Dad.

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