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QRD #73 - Father's Day 2015
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Michael S Bracco
Cartoonist Dad Interview with Michael S Bracco
May 2015
Michael S Bracco
Name: Michael S Bracco
Comics: The Creators (CURRENT), Novo (5-book series), Adam Wreck (all ages GN)
Websites: creatorscomic.com & spaghettikiss.com
Social Media: on most things as @spaghettikiss

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

Michael – As young as I can remember.  I loved movies so much; still do.  I really just wanted to tell stories & build characters so badly.  I started making comics by age 8 if memory serves me correctly & with pauses along the way have been making them ever since.

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

Michael – There are a bunch.  Getting my first book published was quite a milestone & made me feel legitimized.  Working with Super Art Fight has really been an amazing journey too.  If I had to pick one thing that is a highlight, I’d say it’s when I crossed that line from hobbiest to professional & I finally started to contribute in a substantial way to my family with the thing I love to do.

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

Michael – I was pretty unsure about it for a large chunk of my life.  My daughter was born right before my 33rd birthday & it was right around my 30th that the pangs started to hit me.  I think I realized that my life-milestones were pretty over & the thought of guiding someone lovingly with my wife through their milestones seemed like a beautiful journey.

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

Michael – Since I work two full time jobs (teaching middle school art & comics/apparel design in the evenings & weekends) I had to be extra careful to find the time to spend with my family.  I schedule my daily routines as much as possible & it’s actually given me the chance to spend a ton of daily time with my daughter & my wife.  That said, the traveling side of comics can be hard.  I miss my family terribly when I’m gone for 4 or 5 weekends in a row.
On the flip side, my daughter is now old enough to where she is beginning to grasp what I do.  We draw together a lot & she’ll come watch me in the studio.  I love getting to share that part of me with her.

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

Michael – Sometimes it can be difficult to play the balancing game & there are certain things that are difficult to cultivate & grow because of the time spent with family, but I don’t consider that a downside.  My family keeps me supported, loved, & balanced.

QRD – Has your daughter effected the comics you make &/or read?

Michael – Absolutely.  When I found out I was having a daughter I started thinking a lot about how, up to that point, my main characters were male & were self-portraits in a lot of ways.  I all of a sudden wanted to look at the world through a female character’s eyes, giving me the main character of the Creators, Maya.  From there, the sentiment snowballed & I became interested in exploring narratives from more & more diverse characters.  She really opened my eyes as a storyteller in that way.

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

Michael – I am fortunate to have teaching as my baseline, which brings in steady money year round.  Teaching, however, does not provide enough to support a family of 3, so the not so steady money of art & comics comes in waves.  Some weeks we are top of the world & others we are scrounging.  We’ve always been okay of course, but it can totally be a stress.

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?

Michael – My wife & I are both artists (she’s a potter) & had done more than just the convention scene before we had Amelia.  We worked street fairs, craft fairs, tattoo conventions, & more.  I think that I was prepared for the lifestyle & actually cut back on some shows when my daughter was born.  I look back & I can’t imagine it going any other way.  I learned so much in the time I’ve spent running an art business & I think the amount of shows was just right.

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

Michael – I think both of them have an important impact on our community.  As a father, along with my wife, we are raising a member of the community & how we raise her & interconnect her with the world around her is very important.  As a practicing artist, I get to show how with a good work ethic, practiced skills, & a little bit of creativity people can make a living locally & with integrity.  I think that the real impact is that I am an artist-father.  That is important to me.  Raising Amelia as a visual communicator, having her see the impact & importance of art in all of its forms is where the potential for my & any artist parent’s impact is.

QRD – Would you rather see your children eventually become cartoonists or parents?

Michael – I just want her to be who she wants to be & have integrity in her choices.  Beyond that it’s up to her.  It would be really cool to have her go into cartooning & I would take a lot of pride in that.  I also hope to be a grandparent one day; but if she becomes soccer playing lawyer with no kids, I will be proud of her as long as she has integrity.

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?

Michael – Here is my bulleted list:
    •    wake up at 6:30
    •    drive 45 minutes to work & stay there until finished
    •    drive home & soak up as much time with my wife & girl as I can
    •    get Amelia ready for bed anywhere from 7:30-9
    •    Go down to the studio & screenprint/draw/get computer work done until midnight
    •    Sleep...repeat
As for weekends, if I have a show I am just away for 2-3 days, but on weekends that I am not working I usually devote 75% of that time to my wife & daughter running around playgrounds, shopping, eating, etc.

QRD – What does your daughter think of your comics?

Michael – She isn’t quite aware yet as she is just under 3.  She loves the characters though.  She is particularly fond of Donatello from TMNT.  I got her a stuffed one when she was a year old & she hasn’t let go of him since.  She calls him, “TELLO” & loves to watch the show with me now.  Her other comic favorite is Batman.  She has a bunch of the toys & loves to watch the ‘66 era one with Adam West with me.  Every time the joker comes on screen she points & announces: “That’s the Joker!  HE NO NICE!”

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

Michael – Wow… I never even thought about it.  I guess I’ll have to wait & see.  I hope so.  That sounds like a ton of fun.

QRD – Any words of advice to young people?

Michael – The best way to learn how to make comics is to make comics.  Study them yes, but practice them tenfold.  It’s okay to suck horribly for a long time because you will never be good until after you spend a long time sucking.  Get started young & have a work ethic in your early 20s too.  Eventually when you start a family you will have to gear back the things that don’t concretely contribute to your family.  If you find a way to make your art an imperative part of how you make your living, it will be with you forever.