Today, I was at the bank taking care of,...well...you know. I had to wait a while for someone to help me because I was there on my lunch hour and that's usually the busy time at banks. The lady in the office on the left seemed more cheerful so I was hoping I'd be meeting with her. It didn't work out that way and I ended up with the lady in the office on the right.
During the course of our business together, she asked me what Mike did for a living. When I told her "Freelance Comicbook Illustrator", I watched her face closely. Usually when I tell "civilians" (As John Byrne calls them. I sometimes think of them as "muggles".) my brother is...was...a comic book artist, they give me a funny look like I'm putting them on. This lady perked right up. "Really? That's what my daughter wants to be."
It was my turn to be incredulous. I imagined a little toddler sitting at a table scribbling on newsprint with a crayon babbling, "I unna draw tomits in I grow up!" I asked her how old her daughter was.
She said, "Nineteen. She's studying Sequential Art at SCAD."
I was floored. We talked for several minutes about her daughter's love of comics and I asked if she'd considered the Joe Kubert school though I told her there was nothing at all wrong with SCAD. She didn't know what I was talking about but had me write down the name so she could look it up. She was very excited and just knew her daughter would be interested. We finished our business and I left. But I couldn't get it out of my mind.
It was such a strange encounter. Meeting with her and not the other lady was pure chance and yet I felt like it was meant to be. For so long we've been hearing so much pessimism about comics: It's a dying industry. Kid's don't read comics. Women don't want to work in comics. All that combined with Mike's passing had me ready to give up the hobby in disgust. And yet here, in one complete package, was the antithesis of all that pessimism. The mother of a young girl chomping at the bit to go out and create comics for a new generation. What were the odds of me meeting this woman in the way I did? I felt like Mike had taken me by the hand and led me to this meeting as his way of telling me, "Don't give up just yet, bro."
The meeting left me feeling content and optimistic in a way that I haven't felt in weeks. Am I just being silly? Maybe. But the older I get the more I'm convinced that not everything can be written off as sheer coincidence. Whatever it was...
It was cool.