I am not a lady.

I have never received as many emails addressed to “Ladies” than when I dipped my toes into comics. I made a really active conscious choice to work with an almost all female team (something that is, weirdly, rarely lauded or even recognized). There is a lot of back and forth in comics - internally - and externally. Editorial notes. Production notes. Emails from journalists and stores and blogs. Many of them start out with: “Hey, Ladies.”

Ladies. Because they are addressed to me, and to Lia Miternique and to our artist (either Kate Niemczyk or Elise McCall). And we are, granted, ladies. True fact.

Maybe it’s because we are working in a male-dominated industry. Maybe it’s because I have a 15-year-old daughter who keeps me engaged and awake. But the “ladies” thing makes me crazy.

If you’re talking to your lady friends, arranging brunch or whatever, hey, go for it. Call them ladies. 

If you’re talking to someone professionally, what the fuck are you thinking

When you address an email to “Ladies” you are saying that our lady-ness is the most important thing about us. It’s not. Our work is the most important thing about us - which is why you’re contacting us. 

Why use the term at all? What does it buy you? 

Use “Guys.” Okay. That’s fine. That is - colloquially - a gender neutral term. 

You know what else works?


Use our names.


We came for the royal wedding, we stayed for the ice cream.

From the archive.


How did I end up hauling my 6-year-old daughter to London for the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton?


Such harebrained schemes don't just happen. They infect you young and lurk in your nervous system for years, like shingles. I can tell you exactly when I caught royal fever.

It was July 29, 1981. I was 9 years old. I wasn't a princess-y kid. I was an Anglophile. Blame my mother. Blame “Masterpiece Theater,” which for years was one of the few shows she let me watch on TV. (I was the only kid I knew who was breathlessly following "Brideshead Revisited.")


My mother and I watched the TV movie about Charles and Diana. (Not a BBC production, but with accents, so still fancy.) I was at my dad's house in Key West on July 29 and I got up at 4 in the morning and watched the wedding on TV by myself. I drew that dress all summer, and when I got back to my mom's in the fall, I got a Lady Di haircut.


So when Prince William and Catherine-don't-call-me-Kate Middleton announced their engagement, I did not think I was being particularly crazy when I turned to my husband and said, "We're going."


"Um, I'm not," he said.


Eliza and I arrived in London on April 26. The city was ready. It seemed as if every shop window had some sort of wedding-themed display.


But the locals we met sounded less than enthused. What are you doing on "the free day off?" we heard them ask one another. It was three days before we met someone who was actually going to participate in the fanfare, and he was just planning on taking his kids to his local street party. So who were all these people we were seeing camping out in tents along the procession route? Australians?


"We should get a tent," Eliza said as we rode past them in a cab.


"We aren't getting a tent," I said, thinking of our expensive hotel room. But as the wedding day approached, I started a campaign to control Eliza's expectations. "We probably aren't going to be able to see them up close," I said. "There are going to be a lot of people."


"Can we bring a ladder?" Eliza asked.


"No," I said.


"Well," she said. "You're just going to have to lift me up as high as you can."


The night before the wedding, we couldn't sleep. I thought about heading down to the procession route to wait for eight hours on the sidewalk. (I really did.) But here's the thing about doing that sort of thing with a 6-year-old: If one of you has to pee, you're both going to the Honey Bucket, and it's not as if anyone is going to save your place.


So we waited until morning when the alarm went off. Eliza wore an elegant gold dress and a red cape with a black and white fur collar. I wore jeans and a T-shirt, and the most English piece of clothing I own -- my London Fog trench coat. We started walking toward the palace, about a mile away.


It was quiet at first.


We hurried along the sidewalk. Everyone had been worried about rain, but the morning was beautiful. I was regretting the trench coat.


We could see people now up ahead. They were streaming along the sidewalks and streets. I decided to follow the crowd. Suddenly we were in a throng of thousands. Women in silly hats and tiny dresses teetered along in stiletto heels. Families pushed strollers festooned with Union Jack flags. Girls wore T-shirts that read, "It should have been me." The crowd surged into Hyde Park and suddenly we were in a sea of a million people. That's not hyperbole -- I read it later in the paper, there were a million people in that park.



Three enormous JumboTron screens had been erected to broadcast the action. Even so, I had to hoist Eliza up to see, because when those million people saw the queen arrive at the Abbey, they all stood up and waved their flags, and they didn't sit back down. These people had come for the day. They brought blankets, and were drinking beer -- at 10 in the morning. When William and Catherine began their vows, the crowd went silent.


"I thought her dress would be longer," Eliza said.


"Shh," I said.


Then it was over. They were pronounced married. The shouting was deafening.


I had one thing on my mind: kissing.


After a wedding, the royal couple stands on the balcony at Buckingham Palace and kiss -- it's what they do.


"Let's go," I said to Eliza.


I could see people peeling off, and Eliza and I followed them, assuming they were all going somewhere important. It turned out that somewhere important was the nearest tube station. I pulled out my map from our double-decker bus tour, located our position, and plotted our route to the mall. Eliza was excited for a minute about this -- thinking we were going to the Gap and then maybe Jamba Juice. I explained that it was not that kind of mall.


It took a long time to get there. People kept stopping us and asking to take Eliza's picture. Someone gave her free ice cream. "Ooh, royalty's coming!" a cop said as Eliza walked by in her cape.


"I'm taking this thing off," Eliza said.

The crowd was thick at the entrance to the mall. I had a firm grip on Eliza's wrist and pulled her sideways between people. I wasn't even sure where we were going. I just figured that this many people jammed together must be jammed together for a reason.


The mall itself was closed off by barricades, and guarded by police. I could see the police in their fluorescent yellow jackets chasing people in the park near the mall, forcing them out the gates. The crowd was pressing against the barricades and I picked Eliza up so she could get some air.


It was hot now. My trench coat was off, jammed under my arm, along with Eliza's cape. No one was moving, but it seemed everyone was trying to move. It was the first time I have ever felt the power that a crowd has, how it becomes its own sort of organism, capable of crushing people.


Suddenly, I didn't give a toss about the kiss. My main goal was to get Eliza out of there.


It took some doing. But we made it back to the hotel and turned on the TV in time to see the police lift the barricades and guide the crowd down the mall to the palace. If we had stayed we would have been right up front, with a great view. As it was, we saw the balcony moment, like most of the world, on TV.


After a few hours, we ventured out again. We saw the palace guard on horseback and the revelers still outside the palace.


Eventually, Eliza joined some other little girls who discovered that if they sat down in their puffy dresses, all that silk and taffeta made for excellent toboggans on a slanted marble monument in St. James Park. The girls slid on their backs and on their bellies, and the grown-ups watched. None of us told them to try to keep their dresses clean.


"This was the best day of my life," Eliza told me on the way out of the park.


"What was your favorite part?" I asked.


"The ice cream," she said.

The Unicorn Question

From the archive...

We were just arriving home from the park, when my daughter sprung the question. She was on her bike. I was on foot. It was a beautiful day, though overcast, and the park had been muddy, and she was a little tired from the bike ride home. She'd been quiet the last half-block. I blamed it on muscle fatigue. It turns out she was mulling the nature of reality.

"Can we go to the jungle and see unicorns?" she asked. She said it casually, as if she were asking to go to the zoo and see elephants. 

My daughter is approaching 4, and we expect these big questions every now and again. We'd watched "The Adventures of Robin Hood" with Errol Flynn and had an exhaustive discussion as to why Prince John could be a bad guy when he seemed so nice. ("But he's a prince," she kept saying, "and happy.")


But I was not prepared for The Unicorn Question.


I decided to attempt a sidestep.


"Unicorns don't live in the jungle," I said.


My daughter pushed her bike up the grass hill to our yard. "Where do they live?" she asked.


This stumped me. "Um, meadows?" I said.


She turned back and squinted at me, clearly dubious. "Meadows?"


"The old English countryside?" I guessed.


She wasn't buying it. "Where do unicorns really live?" she asked.


I had to come clean. "In a magic land," I said.


She frowned. "Can we go there?"


I forced a big excited, fake smile. "That's the great thing about magic lands, you can go any time you want, because they exist in your imagination," I said.


She stood in the yard, her pink bike helmet strapped under her chin, and looked at me the way she sometimes looks at her father. "Are unicorns real?" she asked.


There it was.


What was I supposed to do? Lie? It was a direct question. "They're imaginary," I said, immediately feeling like a jerk.


"Like dinosaurs?" she asked.


"Dinosaurs used to be real," I said. "They lived a long, long time ago. Unicorns are made up."


Her mouth tightened for a moment, and then she turned back toward the house and started to walk her bike toward the porch. "OK," she said.


I felt like a monster. I had destroyed her belief in unicorns. I was a unicorn murderer. I imagined piles of unicorn carcasses, their horns snapped off, their white coats matted with blood.


We went inside and sat down with my husband.


"I don't see the moon," my daughter said to him. (It was mid-afternoon, and the sky was entirely blanketed with clouds.)


"It's on the other side of the world," my husband said.


"No it's not," she said. She peered out the French doors to the backyard. "It's out there." In her defense, we had seen the moon in the daytime sky a few weeks earlier.


"It's too cloudy," I said.


"It's on the other side of the world," my husband said again. Sometimes he thinks we ignore him.


She craned her neck so she could see more sky. "I can't find it," my daughter said.


"Trust me," my husband said.


My daughter crossed her arms. "I want to see the moon," she said.


My husband reached for her toy phone, which was sitting on the coffee table.


"Hello?" he said into it. "Is this the moon?" He paused. "Where are you now?" He listened and nodded and then looked over at our daughter. "Oh, the other side of the world?" He paused. "Would you mind telling my daughter that?" He held the phone out to her. "The moon wants to talk to you," he said.


She took the phone and held it to her ear. "Hello, Moon," she said. She listened for a moment. "OK," she said. "I understand. Goodbye." She lowered the phone and turned back to my husband. "The moon says that it is half up today," she said. "And that you are wrong."


Her imagination was intact, unicorn massacre notwithstanding.

Good Luck

My daughter is 3 1/2 and an only child, so I spend a lot of time trying to keep her busy. This requires coming up with a lot of activities, and my suggestions are fast and furious. 

Why don't you draw a tree! Do a puzzle! Build a fort! Every idea has an exclamation mark.

If I Gatling gun enough ideas, one will hit, and my daughter will go off happily with an activity.


Sometimes she just wants to crawl on me.

We were in the front yard this past week, after a long walk. I had walked. She had been in the stroller. We/I had walked a very long way to a bike store, which had been closed, and then back home, up a slight incline that I had barely noticed on the way to the bike store, but became K2 on the way back up pushing a 35-pound kid.

So we were in the front yard. Because I was too tired to haul the stroller up the front-porch steps. "Let's rest," I suggested, collapsing on the bottom step.

But my daughter had not walked, and didn't need to rest. She wanted to throw her body as hard as she could against mine.

"Why don't you run around with the dog?" I suggested.

"I don't want to," she said.

"Why don't you run up and down the hill?" I said. Our yard slopes down to the sidewalk. This would wear her out for sure.

"I don't want to," she said.

I glanced out at the yard, blotchy brown in parts, green in others. Most of the actual grass had dried to a crunchy straw, but the clover in the yard seemed to be thriving.

Which gave me an idea. "Why don't you look for a four-leaf clover?" I said. This would keep her busy for hours. I spent my childhood looking for a four-leaf clover, searching every yard, every sidewalk crack, every park, carefully picking through 10 billion three-leaf ones. And it was only in this moment, with my daughter, that I realized that my mother had come up with that activity because I was 3 1/2, and an only child, and she wanted to keep me busy.

I never did find a four-leaf clover, but some of my favorite memories are of lying in the grass, trying.

"What's a four-leaf clover?" my daughter asked.

I showed her a three-leaf clover. "Look for one with four leaves. They're very special, and if you find one, it's good luck."

"OK," she said. She surveyed the yard, and pointed to a nearby clump of green. "I think I'll go search that clover family over there," she said.

I leaned back on the steps and looked up at the sky, enjoying the sun on my face and the peace and quiet of an occupied small child.

My daughter tapped me on the shoulder.

"I found one," she said.

It had been a few minutes. I smiled to myself. I remembered that. Thinking I'd found one, only to have an adult point out that one of the leaves was just folded over. "You want one with four leaves," I reminded her gently, "not three."

"It does have four leaves," she said.

She held the clover out to me. I examined it. It had four leaves. I had spent a million hours looking for a four-leaf clover as a kid and my daughter had found one in three minutes.

I counted them again.

One. Two. Three. Four.

"You have got to be kidding me," I said.

"Do you want me to find another one?" my daughter asked.

I looked from her back to the clover and to her again. "Do you know what this means?" I asked her. "How rare this is? This is incredible."

She placed her hand sweetly on my arm. "Mom," she said. "You can have it."

And she ran downhill to the sidewalk and back up again.

Career Goals

Okay.  A quick story.

My daughter, Eliza, announced, at age 8, that she was going to grow up to be a television “show runner." (I didn't know what a show runner was until I was 30, but she has had a different life experience than I did.) 

Hitherto “show runner," Eliza's professional goal had been to open a restaurant called "The Unicorn Cafe." Just for context.

She is now a freshman in high school. (Whatever that means, during quarantine.) Last semester she had a required class - on life skills.  When my mother took it, it was called "home ec." When I took it, it was all about how to balance a checkbook. These days, it's about how to manage social media and get into college. 

Eliza had an assignment. She was supposed to write about her career goals.  The assignment specifically asked students to outline two professional aspirations. Then present them to the class.

Eliza could only come up with the one.

Show runner.

We live in Portland, Oregon. So show runner is not at the front of everybody's minds.  The teacher reminded Eliza of the assignment. Eliza is an A-student; she always does the assignment. So this was a conundrum for her.  Because it seemed entirely unnecessary.  Eliza explained that she didn't need to come up with a second option, because she knew what she wanted to do, for a fact.  

Her teacher, patient as a Buddha, suggested that Eliza might come up with a Plan B, you know, just in case the whole television show runner thing didn't work out, ultimately.

Eliza gave it some thought.  

A Plan B?

A fallback. If all else failed. 

Basically her version of digging ditches?

I guess I could be a "television executive," she said.   


You Reading This, Be Ready

By William Stafford

Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?

When you turn around, starting here, lift this 
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life –

What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

Survival poem #17 by Marty McConnell


because this is what you do. get up.

blame the liquor for the heaviness. call in late

to work. go to the couch because the bed

is too empty. watch people scream about love

on Jerry Springer. count the ways

it could be worse. it could be last week

when the missing got so big

you wrote him a letter

and sent it. it could be yesterday, no work

to go to, whole day looming.

it could be last month

or the month before, when you still

thought maybe. still carried plans

around with you like talismans.

you could have kissed him last night.

could have gone home with him, given in,

cried after, softly, face to the wall, his heavy arm

around you, hand on your stomach, rubbing.

shower. remember your body. water

hotter than you can stand. sit

on the shower floor. the word

devastated ringing the tub. buildings

collapsed into themselves. ribs

caving toward the spine. recite

the strongest poem you know. a spell

against the lonely that gets you

in crowds and on three hours’ sleep.

wonder where the gods are now.

get up. because death is not

an alternative. because this is what you do.

air like soup, move. door, hallway, room.

pants, socks, shoes. sweater. coat. cold.

wish you were a bird. remember you

are not you, now. you are you

a year from now. how does that

woman walk? she is not sick or sad.

doesn’t even remember today.

has been to Europe. what song

is she humming? now. right now.

that’s it.


Marty McConell’s website: http://www.martyoutloud.com/

ECCC Cancelled

HEADS UP: Emerald City Comic Con has been cancelled. Like, several days ago, actually. I’m just only now getting around to updating my website. And honestly I don’t remember how to edit my events, so updating in the blog area instead.  #OkayBoomer.  Anyway, if, for some reason, you bought tickets to ECCC and are ONLY NOW hearing about this development - well you should really check your SPAM filter, because you should have gotten an email from ECCC.  Also, you can get a refund!  Google that.  The convention is rescheduling (fingers crossed) for this summer.  We’ll be there, if we can.

Oh! And also! Please - PRETTY PLEASE - pre-order a copy of SPY ISLAND from your local comic book store. (First issue comes out April 1, which sounds like a joke, but isn't.)  Guessing our big SPY ISLAND ECCC launch might be complicated by the lack of an actual ECCC. 

I will look into that whole “editing content” thing. 


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