Arbiters Of Good Taste

FUNDRAISER UPDATE: 50/100 prints are sold! That’s half! MATH! I have to sell the rest by the end of January if I’m going to be able to pay my taxes. The “Daddy/Daughter Digital Drawing Time” print is signed by both of us, numbered and limited to 100 pieces. [More details HERE.]

hijinks ensue fundraiser print 2013 web

All proceeds are going to pay an unexpected IRS tax bill. Your support and help are greatly appreciated, plus you get a pretty sweet piece of art for your wall. Hate art? Hate walls? Donations are also incredibly appreciated, if that’s more your style.

I got some big plans for 2014. Check them out in the blog post under THIS comic.

One of the hard parts of being a geek/nerd parent is letting your kid figure out what THEY are into as opposed to pushing onto them what YOU’re into. Eventually you (hopefully) realize that you are an entirely different person with potentially WILDLY different tastes from your child’s and you let them find their own way. If you’re a good parent and they trust you; trust your opinion then you can expose them to the things you love and they will take your endorsement as a sign of quality. They still might hate your favorite movie, but at least they’ll give it a try. Unless it’s Ghostbusters. If they hate Ghostbusters, you should see a doctor immediately. If a doctor can’t help, then just take them to the edge of the woods, point them away from you and tell them to walk until they hit water. This isn’t cruel, because what you had wasn’t a child. It was a monster.

Just beneath the instinct to force you likes and loves on your kids is the more rational argument, “I’ve already sifted through all the stuff. I’ve spent years cultivating and curating and THIS, THIS IS THE STUFF that is the good stuff. START with THIS STUFF and your life will be easier than mine.” That’s the kind and helpful idea, at least. The reality of that argument and way of thinking is that you’re denying the importance of the act of discovery. The ways you find things, the people that introduce them to you, the reasons you pick one book over another, THESE are the actions that make geeks fall in love with books, movies, tv shows, games, comics, etc. Sure, there are the things you love because your parents shared them with you, but there are also the things you love because you spent the night at a friends house and they were allowed to watch scarier movies that you were allowed to watch, so now you love Friday The 13th, or because your parents were late picking you up from the mall, so you had to walk around the book store for 30 minutes and ended up discovering Ray Bradbury all on your own. The circumstances by which geeks claim their geerkeries is almost as important as the subject matter. They’re the spices that accent the meal. NOT robbing your geeklings of that is just as important as making sure they see Monty Python.

Oh yeah, here’s a new print I made and put in the HE store.

Adventure Time Lord


This was taken from one of the recent Fancy Digital Sketches. I was super happy with out it turned out and decided to make it into a print which can be yours for only Only $11.95!

Major huge giant thanks to Fancy Bastard Wesley B. for the inspiration to draw this.

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  1. One of the most positive aspects of my childhood was probably how my father had a HUGE library of classic science fiction (Asimov, Bradbury, Brunner, Chalker, Norton, Pohl, Russell, Simak, etc etc). It was fairly comprehensive, in fact, apparently the result of a merge a decade or two previously of my dad's collection with a roommate who moved away.

    My parents never foisted it upon me; in fact, to start with they were all packed up in cardboard boxes in my parents' basement. But as a kid as I got bookshelves of my own and noticed we had woefully underutilized bookshelves built into the walls downstairs too (which was a bit strange, looking back, since the household had tons of other bookshelves that were outright bursting), I started getting really curious about all the boxes of books underneath the basement staircase, and I took it upon myself to sort them all out in alphabetical order and find shelves for them.

    What proceeded from there was me devouring, mostly in alphabetical order but sometimes tracing authorial or thematic threads, a huge swath (hundreds) of pre-1980s science fiction, alongside the other classics (Albert Camus, for example) scattered amongst them.

    I'm not sure it'd work with all kids, but in my case at least, this was absolutely the best way: just leaving this wealth of literature sitting there, half hidden, waiting for my curiosity to lead me to it.

    • Same here. My parents' libraries were great for exploring, and introduced me to tons of authors and ideas. My husband and I are both nuts about music, books, and film, and our friends and family with kids are some of our favorite visitors – we definitely have "lending libraries," so lots of things go to various homes.

    • Same here. I love my dad's Wall of Books. Sci-Fi and Fantasy, with a few classics and Asterix comics in French (mom was a French minor in college, those things are so expressive I didn't have to know the language to follow them). The main one I remember aside from the obvious greats was AE Van Vogt. I wish I could say it was due to the quality of his books, but it's because I never got about thirty pages into any of them before falling asleep. I hear Weapon Shops of Isher is really good, but I can't prove it.

  2. This is sort of the geek equivalent of the jock-dad pushing his kid into sports, or the pageant-mom pushing the kid into pageants, but (usually) without the undertone of "parent who never made the big time living vicariously though their child".

    Yeah, it's tough to do. My dad, thankfully, never was one of those dads — he supported us in our youthful sporting endeavors, but when we were done, we were done. He asked us only to give it our best shot, and when we chose to stop playing, he asked only if we were sure.

    He also is a voracious reader, so it didn't take much to encourage me to read. He reads spy thrillers and hard SF with rivets mostly, but not exclusively, and my tastes are different (though I gave him a signed copy of Scalzi's "Redshirts" for his birthday, and though he's not a Trekker, he's sufficiently genre-savvy that he was howling with laughter by the second page and called me to tell me about it. Score one for eldest son).

    While I won't characterize them necessarily as "the worst little league parents", I'd have to give the "most ridiculous little league parents" title to the people who get their kids involved in junior karting and/or quarter-midget racing and use that as an excuse to buy astonishingly large RVs, equally-large enclosed trailers, and/or "toterhomes" to support a racing vehicle that would fit in the back of my pickup truck. I guess they think their kid is the next Jeff Gordon or Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and are "investing for the future" as they grow into bigger cars, but…. sheesh. I race (amateur) full-size cars and while I've got a pickup and an enclosed trailer, it's not a 45', $200k diesel pusher motorhome with a 33' , $30k stacker trailer behind it…

  3. My parents were quite into Science Fiction and Fantasy; my dad was the kid who watched the original Star Trek on TV and couldn't wait for new episodes. Growing up, he made a big deal of TNG coming out and we would make a point to watch movies and TV shows with those themes. They never forced this on my sister and I; it was just what we did as a family.

    I think what really helped cement my own like for the genre, and other geeky pursuits, was access to the local library. Unlimited access to books of all types and I read through the whole lot. I started to find interests outside of the things my parents liked but still appreciated what they did. And when I started to get into anime (this was back before all the popular dubs on TV, kids), they didn't understand it but they embraced my enjoyment of it. In fact, I even managed to get them into Miyazaki movies.

    So basically, I agree that you need to let kids find what they like and don't like on their own. As long as you don't force your likes and dislikes on them, they might end up finding out they like it. Maybe you'll even discover something you like that they introduced you too. Freedom of choice is always important.

  4. Joel! Is there any chance of you going to the NOLA con next month? My wife and I are geeking out because Matt Smith will be there and it's close to us. It would make my day to be able to buy some of your stuff and/or give you tiny bottles of booze!

  5. I grew up watching Star Trek (TOS) with my parents on a little black and white T.V. By the time I was old enough to form memories, it was in syndication, but my parents were such big fans they were watching the repeats. It was my favorite show, and pretty much set the tone for my tastes throughout my life.

    Also, my dad started reading the Hobbit to me when I was young, and then, when I was a little older, I was given the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Exposed to science fiction and fantasy genres early, I was a big fan of both, and a voracious reader. However, we also had a lot of books of all kinds, including a lot of classic literature, and I read and enjoyed most of that, too, so I definitely had the opportunity to explore our family library and discover what I liked.

    I also enjoyed exploring the libraries at my school, and when I was in fifth grade, I discovered the Three Musketeers in my school library. I checked it out, devoured it, and it became my favorite book. I was given it as a gift later, once my family realized how taken I had been with it, and read that over and over. I also asked for and was given other Dumas books, and given other swashbuckling literature as well.

    I remain a huge fan of all of the above to this day, so I would say there is certainly something to be said for giving a child proper guidance, and then making a wide variety of things available to them so they can make their own choices and learn what they like. Odds are, your daughter will probably like a lot of what you like, and then will turn around and surprise you with interests that never occurred to you.

  6. I got fantasy from Dad (and Grandma on his side) and sci-fi and UK TV from Mom. And comedy from both. They had a very strong influence on my tastes. Never forced anything, never hid anything, but they made sure that I gave the good stuff a chance. I wouldn't change a thing.

  7. Alright Joel, I've seen you tackle Heathcliff and maybe Marmaduke, definitely Peanuts…
    How do you feel about Zits, the Boondocks, and the current state of the newspaper funnies overall?

  8. My parents always shared their interests with me, but what made it work was that it was reciprocal. I would read what they liked, or what was important to them, and give it a fair chance, and they would read what I liked. I got alot of great classic literature from my mom, and crime from my dad, and they both read the science fiction and fantasy that I enjoyed. It was great because it meant that we always had something to talk about, even when things were otherwise pretty difficult. It was also great when I was small, because it felt like I was being treated like an equal — they weren't giving me children's literature, but trusting that I could deal with complex writing, and respecting my opinion by taking seriously what I enjoyed. Sometimes it didn't work: Jane Eyre was boring when I was ten and my mother could never understand what I liked about Gormenghast. But most of the time it was amazing. Even though I've moved away, I still have long conversations with both my parents about what we're reading.

  9. While I caught music fanaticism of my mother (and her father before her), my other geekiness discovery was through my big sister's boyfriend who'd bring his sci-fi and fantasy books and games with him to keep me occupied while visiting her.

  10. Sure, your wife wants your daughter to discover her own taste in comic strips, but when she becomes a fan of Mallard Fillmore, your wife will be all like, "Why? Why did I not let Joel guide her and keep from the Dark Side!? WHHYYY????!!!!!"

  11. Is a chance in the future that this new print will be made into a shirt? If not my kid will be happy enough with the print on his wall

  12. My 15yo geekling likes most of what her father and I like, except Stars Wars. Now if I could just pry her away from the anime. (Just kidding! I actually like that she likes things that I don't)

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