My 7yo son, Miles, has always liked drawing and art. Over the past year or so, he’s developed an interest in comic books and graphic novels, in particular. He spends hours drawing comics and devouring Pokemon Adventures books, the Bone graphic novel series, and a Japanese series called Yotsuba&!.
At some point, he and a few of his friends at school decided to start a comic book company. They would draw their own comics and sell them to other kids. They met each day at recess to discuss the business, and there were staff hirings and firings. They came up with a name, a logo, registered a domain name, and even filmed a trailer.
Over the summer, I took my boys on a pilgrimage to Geppi’s Entertainment Museum in Baltimore. It’s a cool little enclave of pop culture and comic-book history in the heart of downtown, should you ever find yourself in the area. I worried that a bunch of old comics behind glass might be boring to a 7yo, but he thought it was the coolest thing ever and declared the museum a mandatory field trip for all his comic book company employees. My 4yo, meanwhile, was awed by the life-sized Superman and Batman statues.
But I didn’t realize just how serious Miles was about all this until he and his partners started talking about building a company. And by company, they meant the actual building that would serve as the headquarters and store. Miles became obsessed with finding land and drawing up blueprints. I had to put my foot down when he begged me to take him to Lowe’s one day after school to buy building materials. It’s not that I don’t support his dreams, it’s just that I support him finishing his homework and getting to bed at a decent time more.
His dad and I tried to talk to him about overhead and maybe starting with an online store to keep costs down, but our advice fell on deaf ears. What do we know? Not like we’re seasoned media professionals or anything. (We are!) Miles had his heart set on a brick-and-mortar building. Oh, and by this time his vision had grown: he now wanted to have a restaurant attached the comic book store that only serves buffalo wings, his favorite food. He even sketched some designs himself – “blueprints” in black crayon on blue construction paper.
As luck would have it, one of our neighbors happens to be an architect. Miles wasted no time hiring him to formally draw up the building plans. He paid in faux gold nuggets he got during a gold-panning expedition over summer vacation, BTW. Which is also how he and his partners retained the services of a copyright lawyer (a classmate’s mom). Talk about advancing confidently in the direction of your dreams!
Well, the architect came through with flying colors. Here are the initial design drawings for Dragon Comics and Dragon Wings:
When I thought about how this guy took time out of his busy life to do this for a couple of kids, I got a little choked up, I’m not gonna lie. And also how my mom took her grandson to a print shop and a clothing store to buy him not one but 3 dragon T-shirts to publicize his company. And how his other grandmother and aunt sent him books on how to draw and publish your own comics. And when I think about how my son is chasing his dreams so diligently at such a young age, that chokes me up, too.
Because soon enough, the world will come at him to buckle down and get serious and get a “real job,” and before I know it he might be putting on a tie and printing out his resume to take to some soul-sucking job fair in a corporate office park somewhere. But damned if he doesn’t have a dream, a lawyer, business partners, and building plans from a real architect at 7 years old. You go, son! You inspire me.
FACT O’ THE DAY: The owner of Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, Steve Geppi, is also the publisher of Baltimore magazine, for which I wrote for years. I took some pride in pointing out to my kids that my byline is in one of the issues they have displayed at the museum. They were suitably impressed.