Kleefeld On Webcomics #94: All In The Family

By Sean Kleefeld

For a long time, there were two names in the comic industry that I loved and hated at the same time: Kubert and Romita. Joe Kubert and John Romita both started working on comics back in the 1940s. While their earliest pieces perhaps weren’t stellar, they quickly learned on the job. They both worked tirelessly through 1950s and ‘60s, and gained more than a fair amount of notoriety for their work as it became more and more impressive in both illustration and storytelling. Some of the characters they worked on, while not owned by them, became synonymous with their names. Kubert was THE Hawkman artist; Romita was THE Spider-Man artist. Both very talented men, to be sure.

But then they went and had kids. And those kids all turned out to be insanely talented comic book artists as well! John Romita, Jr. and both Adam and Andy Kubert are, while perhaps quite as monumental creators as their fathers, are all top-notch artists in their own rights. And that’s why I hate the names Romita and Kubert; there’s just too much talented concentrated in that small gene pool. Spread it around, I say!

Of course, then I recall that Joe Kubert did in fact open up the foremost school for fledgling comic book artists, and John Romita, Sr. was very well-known for providing a great deal of free advice and mentorship to new talents at Marvel. So I guess I can’t be too mad at them.

Naturally, even in a day and age when you can freely choose just about any occupation you want, it’s still not uncommon for children to follow in their parents’ footsteps. The Kubert and Romita families show that most evidently in comics books, but you can find tons of other examples in sequential art. Blondie creator Chic Young passed the strip down to his son Dean in 1973. Chris Brown took over Hagar the Horrible from his father Dik in 1988. Johnny Hart drew B.C. until his death in 2007, and that one went on to a joint effort from his daughter and two of his grandsons!

But we’re here to talk about webcomics. Webcomics haven’t even been around long enough to see if a creator’s kid has any talent, right?

Wrong.

Greg Carter started Love Is in the Blood back in 2008. I only discovered it a few weeks ago, so I’m still trying to catch up on the full story, but the main character is the first vampire from thousands of years ago and she’s working as a professor of ancient cultures, having witnessed many of them first-hand. Her specialized knowledge has her getting frequently tapped as a resident expert by the U.N. Special Forces Vampire and Magic Division, and the U.S. Bureau of Evil Elimination. Not surprisingly, trouble often ensues. It’s something of a cross between Tomb Raider and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

(Sorry for the inadequate explanation, Greg. Like I said, I’m still trying to catch up through the archives.)

He’s been at this for five years now. He has printed copies of his books available for sale, and sets up booths at conventions, and the whole works. He’s doing all the stuff you need to do as a webcomicker, and he’s been doing it for half a decade. All of which I note here to reinforce that this is not some new thing for him, or something he’s doing on a whim. This is what he does.

Now, guess who started her own webcomic in January? His daughter Claire, of course!

She had been helping him at conventions and trying to “hock my handmade bows and other tchotchkies at the table”. After she started her own zine with couple of friends, both of whom were apparently better artists, she decided that she needed to commit herself to practice drawing more regularly, so she could “be at least a sub par artist who draws reasonably nice looking comics some day.” Which led to her diary comic, Sugary Planet.

As I said, it’s early in her career as a webcomicker. I gather she’s in her early 20s, so it’s not like the whim of a small child here, but she still might ultimately decide it’s not for her. Which is fine; no one is forcing her to make webcomics. But that’s beside my point.

My point is that, right now, she is a second generation webcomicker! It’s one thing to say, yes, the first webcomic came out a couple decades ago. But it hits home a lot more viscerally, I think, to say that webcomics have been around long enough and are established enough that people who are starting into it now are the children of webcomickers! That’s pretty incredible and worth noting.

How soon now before PvP is taken over by Scott Kurtz, Jr.?

Related Posts:

Kleefeld On Webcomics #93: International Edition

Kleefeld On Webcomics #92: Down The Rabbit Hole

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