Portrait of the Artist as a Young WomanA column article, The Squeaky Wheel by: Kyrax2
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My daughter is awesome. I don't write about her much in this column for reasons mainly relating to her safety and privacy. The last thing I want is for people to judge her in five or six or ten years based on something her mom said about her when she was nine!
Nevertheless, I'm about to break my own rule. I've long wanted to talk about our experiences at San Diego Comic-Con and Geek Girl Con last year, and I just can't resist any longer.
A couple of years ago my kid and her cousin were playing pretend with Ben, a family friend. They were playing superheroes, but Ben suggested that, instead of being Batgirl or Robin, she make up her own character.
And thus Blue Bird was born.
She started off as not much more than a name and an idea, but from these humble beginnings, Blue Bird grew into something really special. That same year at Geek Girl Con, we had the opportunity to make our own superhero masks as part of the myriad activities offered for adults and children alike. Of course, if you give a mouse a cookie, he'll want a glass of milk to go with it, and if you give a kid a superhero mask, you can bet she's gonna want a costume to go with it! I can't sew, but I got busy with blue duct tape and an oversized blue t-shirt, and soon she had boots and a cape to go with her mask. She helped make the belt, fashioning the all-important Blue Bird symbol out of clay and painting it herself. That year she went trick-or-treating as her original character - and won a costume contest at school, too! (In the category "Most Unique".)
From there it was but a short step to drawing her own comic detailing the exploits of Blue Bird: the teenage superhero with who could fly and communicate with birds of all kinds. She drew up a two-page 'Episode Zero' comic and showed it to me. I loved it.
Fast forward to San Diego Comic-Con 2013. She would be joining me for just one day of the convention: Saturday. I asked her if she wanted to dress up and she said, "I want to dress as Blue Bird and show my comic to DC."
So...that's just what we did! Thanks to a generous family member with a color copier, we were able to make multiple copies of her comic to hand out to people, and we spent the day walking through Artist's Alley, the DC booth, and in various panels talking to people I knew and making new friends as well.
It was one of the best, most rewarding days I've ever spent at a convention, and I do not say that lightly.
Everyone, and I do mean everyone responded to her with genuine warmth and encouragement. Every time she would shyly offer a creator a copy of her comic, she would ask if they "had any advice" for her. Again and again she got the response: just keep doing what you're doing. Keep drawing. Keep writing. Keep having fun with it.
Meanwhile, I watched and felt so much joy that these professionals were treating her with such respect and kindness. I can't express how much it meant to me (and to her).
There are so many good memories from that day. Everyone asked her to sign the comic for them. Bryan Q. Miller went out of his way to meet up with us and get a copy. Dustin Nguyen commented that her horizontal style was great for digital comics. Scott Lobdell mentioned her at the Superman panel and showed off her comic, saying how much he loved it when young fans shared their work with him. Marcus To drew a picture of Blue Bird for her!
It was amazing.
After her lovely experiences at Comic-Con, when we returned to Geek Girl Con that year, my daughter once again wanted to go as Blue Bird - which led to one of my favorite memories of all.
I attended a panel spotlighting the wonderful Kelly Sue DeConick, and afterward my daughter approached her and explained that she had drawn her own comic, and would she like a copy? DeConick was delighted, and when her husband, Matt Fraction appeared, she introduced him and asked if he could have a copy as well. And Fraction proceeded to pull out his wallet and insist on paying my daughter two dollars, one for each copy of the comic she'd given them. My daughter was thrilled - not really because of the money, but because, as she told me later, "That was when I became a professional!"
Comic creators get a lot of crap. Sometimes people don't like what they've done to a beloved character, or are angry about a particular turn of events. But I can tell you that comic creators are some of the warmest, most generous people I've ever met. I will always be grateful to them for their kindness to my daughter and to me.
The Final Squeak
First of all, if you haven't read Batman #28 or heard about it yet, stop reading now. There are SPOILERS BELOW! Keep reading at your own risk!
Naturally, upon hearing that Batman #28 featured a certain character (SPOILER ALERT!), I had to pick up a copy. The issue had another surprise in store for me, though! A little Easter egg was waiting for me toward the end of the book, a new female sidekick by the name of "Bluebird".
I don't know if Snyder was inspired by my daughter's comic (yes, he did receive a signed copy) or if it was just a coincidence. The name "Bluebird" is a natural fit for a Batman sidekick, especially if you combine the idea of "Robin" with Nightwing's blue. But I'm going to pretend that my daughter was the inspiration anyway - it's more fun that way! (And hey, I guess we'll never have to worry about them sending us a 'cease and desist' letter!)
(Correction: The artist of the sketch of Blue Bird was Marcus To, not Francis Manapul as originally identified. My deepest apologies!)