I’m really excited about the new Amelia Rules! website (Should be launching in early March). As we move forward, we will be including all sorts of features like video podcasts, teacher resources, animations and games. So check back often to see what’s cookin’.
To start things off, I thought I’d write a little about my background, and what kind of strange childhood I must have had in order to create Amelia Rules!
So here goes...
I’ve only ever wanted to be a cartoonist. Outside of Jedi Knight, that was the only possible career path that had any appeal to me. This is how I got there...
Girardville Pennsylvania is a small town. How small? Picture the smallest town you’ve ever been to, and divide it in half. There are no streetlights. Not because there’s no traffic, but it’s just that the town is waiting to see if they catch on before they shell out any money.
But I loved it there. Growing up in a place like that allowed me to act very much like Amelia’s friend Reggie, and yet still manage to eventually go on dates. And so, with very little competition between kids, I tried my hand at just about everything from sports, to music, to theater, and pretty much enjoyed it all.
Still, being an only child in a town that size means your going to have some free time. I spent mine with records, books, and most of all...comics.
I was a huge reader, and compulsively read anything that crossed my path.
The very first thing I learned to read were “Peanuts” comic strips, when my mom read the old Fawcet/Crest collections to me.
There was only one store in town that sold comic books, so I was pretty much limited to whatever they had on the rack, but very early on I enjoyed “Marvel Tales,” which reprinted the old Stan Lee/Steve Ditko “Spider-mans” (although I had no idea they were reprints at the time). Later, I loved “The New Teen Titans” by Wolfman/Perez and Alan Moore/Steve Bissette/John Toteleben’s “Swamp Thing.” I also discovered Wendy Pini’s “Elfquest” which became a major favorite. And I subscribed to Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns” through an ad in a “Blue Beetle” comic.
As far as other reading, the books I remembered liking the most were “Harriet the Spy” by Louise Fitzhugh, “The Great Gilly Hopkins” by Katherine Patterson, “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, and the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.
I didn’t get to see a comic shop until I was 14 and my dad drove me an hour north to the larger town of Wilkes-Barre, to a great shop named Gema Books, where I was introduced to “Love and Rockets,” “Watchmen,” “Zot,” “The Rocketeer,” “The Spirit,” and most especially, “Cerebus.” Cerebus was three things that blew me away: 1.Black and White 2. Hilarious 3. Self Published. I couldn’t believe that something like it existed, and thrived. I was so inspired by Dave Sim’s work, that I decided then and there that I was not only going to be a cartoonist, but that I would produce comic BOOKS, and I would publish them myself.
And so I did.
Despite having no money, no talent, and no clue, I published my first comic when I was 15 years old. It was called Shades of Gray Comics and Stories #0, and I sold it out of my high school locker and around town.
I was on my way! (He said ironically.)
Hey, this is fun. Let's pick up here next time.