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QRD #73 - Father's Day 2015
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Cartoonist Dad Interview with Jeremy Whitley creator of Princeless
May 2015

Name: Jeremy Whitley
Comics: Princeless, Raven: The Pirate Princess, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Marvel’s Secret Wars: Secret Love, Order of Dagonet, Illegal
Websites:  www.jeremywhitley.com

QRD – How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a cartoonist?

Jeremy – I’ve always wanted to make comics, but I think I came to a point in middle school when I realized that illustration was not really in my veins.  Writing on the other hand, has always been my thing.  I think at some point in college it really dawned on me that you can just be a comic book writer & have someone else do the pencils.  That’s when I really set to work at it.

QRD – What are a few highlights of your cartooning career?

Jeremy – The first volume of Princeless got nominated for two Eisners & that was a huge deal for me.  Getting my first jobs at IDW & then Marvel were very affirming moments, but the most amazing things that have happened to me art wise have been having people whose work I really admire track me down to tell me how much they love my work. The first time I met Gail Simone she had tracked me down to tell me how much she loved Princeless.  That was amazing.

QRD – At what age did you decide you wanted to become a father?

Jeremy – I’d always wanted to have a daughter, but right around twenty-five my wife Alicia & I started to realize we were ready.

QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your family has had on your career?

Jeremy – My family has been a huge inspiration for me.  The reason I started writing Princeless was so that I would have the kind of comic I wanted to share with my daughter.  & the characters in Princeless are very much based on my wife & her family. My wife & daughter are a huge influence on everything I write.
Negative wise, it’s just a question of time.  Sometimes I would like nothing better than to plop down behind my computer or notebook & while away hours writing pages & pages of comic books.  But I’ve had to realize that writing can be done at any hour & sometimes inspiration has to take a back seat.  I only have limited time in a given day to see my wife & daughter & that time can’t be moved or rescheduled.

QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your career has had on your family?

Jeremy – I guess I sort of answered this question already, in that I can’t help but lose some of that time with my family.  My family can’t travel with me to every convention, so I spend a lot of weekends alone in strange towns.  Sometimes when I need to meet a deadline I have to lock myself away & work.  Comics is a hard career as often my hours are at the mercy of when other people on the other side of the world are available to chat about comics or have a conference call.  It’s tough not having a 9-5 job.

QRD – Have your children effected the comics you make &/or read?

Jeremy – Absolutely.  The questions of “Where are the kids’ comics?” & “Where can my daughter see a heroine that looks like her in comics?” have become very important to what I do. & honestly that has led to a much larger question of representation for me. I want everyone to have a chance to see themselves reflected in fiction.

QRD – Have you had problems with the lack of steady money from an artistic career providing the security you feel necessary in your household?

Jeremy – Oh yeah.  There was a point a few years ago where I was going to quit my regular job & do comics full time.  That didn’t exactly work out, so I got a part time job.  That still didn’t quite make it work, but it helped me get my foot in the door.  Now I’m working full time & getting closer to doing comic books full time.  But it is undependable & it makes it hard to even think about dropping the regular job.

QRD – Given the limitations having a family has on going on the convention circuit, would you have showed more earlier in life if you’d known?

Jeremy – I would have written more earlier in life.  I think about all the time I used to have & how much writing I could have gotten done & I wonder how I let it all slip by.  But honestly, I wonder if that guy could have made the things I make now. I’m certainly a different guy than I used to be when I wrote angsty poetry in high school & college.

QRD – Do you think being a father or a cartoonist has a greater impact on your community?

Jeremy – That’s an impossible question to answer for me.  The two are very much intertwined.

QRD – Would you rather see your daughter eventually become a cartoonist or parent?

Jeremy – A parent.  My daughter has a lot of other skills & ambitions & I would never push cartooning on her.  She is already very interested in the prospect of having her own children though.

QRD – Both family & comics seem like things that will take up as much of your time as you’re willing to put in.  How do you end up dividing your time?

Jeremy – Haphazardly.  It’s not unheard of for me to disappear to start working on a comic script when my family falls asleep on the couch. I sometimes joke that I look forward to the point when comics is my full time job so that I can have hobbies again.

QRD – What does your daughter think of your comics?

Jeremy – My daughter loves my My Little Pony comics specifically. I’m still not sure that she understands that other people’s dads don’t do that.

QRD – Do you think you could ever do a comic project with your daughter?

Jeremy – Maybe.  She’s just now turning four, so it might take some time & concentration, but maybe some day.

QRD – Any words of advice to young people?

Jeremy – Make the things you want to see in the world.  You can’t wait around for someone to give you permission.  If it’s important enough you have to go for it.