Sunday, January 30, 2011

All The Best Comics Have Daddy Issues #15

This week's column sees us chatting to James from the MOMBcast - great friends of this site. His daughter is nearly 7 months old and below he'll chat about time management, Alfred Pennyworth as the ultimate father, and why you would want to have Obelix as a child. Hit the jump for your weekly parenting clinic.

Fatherhood and Comics – Mutually Exclusive or Exclusively Mutual?

James: For practical reasons, they have to stay mutually exclusive, which is to say juggling a 6 month old child and a comic book at the same time is as close to impossible a task as I think I’ve encountered. Added to that the random nature of grabbing (and tearing) and vomiting put my beloved books in clear and present danger. Comics are best left until after bed-time…hold on was this a question or the title? Damn I’m confused and we’ve not even started yet!
*NOTE: I love that James decided to answer the title. Golden.

1. How has being a father affected your comic buying/reading habits?

James: Both. Firstly the household budget becomes somewhat stretched with a new arrival, and in these first few months they seem to become a cash black hole (something I’m warned gets worse not better!) and its caused me to cut back on the number of monthly on going titles I pick up. That, though, has been no bad thing and has caused me to be somewhat more judicious when deciding which books to follow and which to wait out on trade or cut out altogether. Time too is somewhat of a rarer commodity and I find selfish moments to read harder to come by than before, that said it’s a perfect wind down after spending an hour or so persuading a grumpy and tired baby it’s really high time they went to sleep.

In terms of what I like to read, not one bit.

2. How has being a father affected your comic writing habits?

James: My writing habits were primarily blog based (however like most comic book readers I do of course, have stories I like to write, but mostly for my own amusement) and it’s this activity that’s been affected most by the arrival of Scarlet. My contributions on our blog (soon to be relaunched folks!!) has dried up to almost nothing at all, as balancing care for her and time to sit in front of the PC and think (which amazingly for anyone who has either heard or read a review of mine is something I actually, on occasion, do!!) is at best tough, at worst completely impossible. That said, things do slowly get easier and as we approach 7 months I’m finally finding that I’m making time again to sit and tap out ideas.

3. If you could only give your child one comic run to read, what would it be?

James: Tough question. Difficult to answer as I’m not sure what she’s into at the moment! If though I had to make the choice at this point I think I would veer towards something enlightening or educational rather than just entertaining, so I guess when she was old enough it would have to be Art Spiegelman’s Maus. I hope not a pretentious choice, but I think we all hope our children will be rounded and thoughtful individuals and I think beyond its portrayal of the inhumanity of the Holocaust the book has deeper lessons on life, loss and relationships that are well worth sharing.

4. What comic is best to read to prepare you for fatherhood?

James: These questions don’t get easier do they? I’m not sure that I’ve read one that does, although Crisis On Infinite Earths will give you a vague idea of the tumultuous changes you’re about to face. (In an allegorical sense I mean, I’ve not yet been forced onto a cosmic treadmill, although on very sleepless nights it can feel as though the universe is collapsing…)

5. Who do you think is the best father in comics?

James: There are a few I guess, Reed Richards keeps springing to mind, but then when I consider the terrible danger his children are placed in, maybe not so much. In fact, not many Superhero fathers are particularly good role models, sure they (for the most part) love their kids, but their lifestyles aren’t really compatible with providing a safe and loving environment for a young one. So maybe for me, the best father isn’t actually a biological father but certainly someone who, in my opinion, provides the greatest father figure in comic books: Alfred Pennyworth. He’s caring, understanding, cautiously supportive and prepared to completely sacrifice himself for Bruce Wayne, and surely that’s all any of us can hope to be?

6. Which comic character would you most want to be your child?

James: Not many of them! The worry would kill me. Possibly though, Obelix from the Asterix books would be handy to have around the house. After falling into that cauldron of magic potion as a child his super strength would certainly make heavy lifting chores around the house a breeze.

7. Any father/comics nuggets of wisdom you’d like to impart?

James: Nappies: The picture goes to the front.

Thank you for playing.

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