Monday, March 14, 2011

Fabtastic Interview

NRG, one of Israel's biggest news websites and publishers, has uploaded a new interview with me to their website. It's regarding my new webcomic Fabtastic.

Here's the long overdue translation...


Two and a Half Men : About a Proud Webcomic

The webcomic "Fabtastic" follows a family with two fathers.  In an exclusive interview, comics creator Mickey Blumental says: "Fabtastic's most important message is that gay families aren't that different from regular families".

Yaara Robinson  3/3/2011   14:55

For several years we have all known that the nuclear family is no longer just dad, mom, a boy and a girl. It's enough to see TV shows like "Modern Family" to understand that. Today we can also tick the box for the appearance of alternative families in comics with the debut of a new internet website. "Fabtastic" in English and its Hebrew version, "Mehamem", is a webcomic that tells the story of Daddy, Papa and their two children.  The webcomic itself is the proud son of an illustrator mommy named Sally-Anne Hickman and a writer daddy named Mickey Blumental who answered a few of our questions. Mickey is an Israeli who lives in London for 14 years with his British partner. Sally is a good friend of his who also has a personal angle to contribute to the story.

How did the idea for the comic come up?

My husband and I talked about children every now and then, but it wasn't very different to making plans for winning the lottery. We didn't really think it will ever happen to us. And then one day when the subject came up a very good friend of us simply offered us her eggs. Suddenly we were on the way to becoming parents and started showing great interest in material for young children. As it happens it was impossible to find books about gay parented families in most bookstores and even when looking on the internet I could only find five books. As a creator you always look for inspiration and it right away gave me the urge to create something that my son could enjoy when he is a little older. In paralel, Sally's brother and his partner adopted a child a few years ago so she also had the motivation to create similar material and we just went for it.

How did you meet Sally?

I met Sally in 1999 when the two of us were animation students in an English university. She was a cute blonde with pink ponytails and a Spider-Man bag and looked like a comicbook character herself. We clicked immediately. Near the end of our degree we started working together as an artist and writer and with another student we formed "Cheese Comics". Initially we printed our own comics and sold them in comics conventions across Britain, but it was expensive, exhausting and frustrating. We decided to upload all the material on-line and since then we've concentrated on the Internet. In one day we have more readers than with all the printed issues we sold. We're obviously going to be very happy to see Fabtastic get printed in magazine or book form, but not by self-publishing. For a decade now we have this special symbiotic connection that exists only between people who worked together for a long time. When I'm writing a script for Sally it's an entirely different process to when I'm writing something more general, like a movie script. I can imagine the result in my head and I try to aim into areas where Sally excels. It's great that even then she still manages to surprise me.

We didn't really think it will ever happen to us. Mickey Blumental with his husband and son.

What's Fabtastic's taget audience?

Fabtastic is aimed at children, but still contains many jokes that more mature readers can appreciate, even more so than the younger ones. I'd like to see Fabtastic turned to some sort of web portal where gay parents and their children (as well as "normal" parents and children) can find all kinds of stories, comics, games and activities from a variety of creators which portray the reality of a gay parented family. But you can't put the cart before the horse and for now we're concentrating on one comics series. Fabtastic's most important message is that gay parented families aren't that different from regular families so many future stories won't even touch that subject and will deal with far more common issues every family has to deal with it. My personal motivation is to offer children from gay parented families a fictional world that reflects a reality they are familiar with. At the same time I want children from regular families to read the comics and learn about families different from their own.

Have you encountered any homophobia towards the comics?

Fortunately not, but precisely because of that possibility it's important to me that the comics will target everyone. It's not surprising that kids in high school have homophobic tendencies since the first time they are exposed to the term "homosexual" they are in the midst of reaching puberty and are very sensitive to the subject. There are some who will argue that it's inappropriate to show gay couples to small children and that it's brainwashing. So let them.  Fabtastic is actually a fairly conservative comics series in terms of violence and sexuality. It has no blood or sex, unlike other series that children do see like the Simpsons. Also, I want to show gays and lesbians of all ages that they don't need to give up on the dream of starting their own family.

Is that why you decided to translate it to Hebrew as well?

Yes. There are some messages from this comics that it is very important to me that they reach as wide an audience as possible. As an Israeli teenager in the closet I pretty much gave up on the idea that I will ever have children. I want to show young homosexuals and not so young ones in Israel that they actually can become parents if they really want to. Also, there are many gay parented families there. As someone who grew up in Israel it's very important to me to reach that audience. In hindsight I don't understand why I didn't translate all my comics to Hebrew. Fabtastic is my first comics in Hebrew if we discount scribbles in notebooks from my childhood. If I got to read comics like Fabtastic when I was buried deep in the closet, it would have filled my teenage years with much more optimism.


Mark said...

What a great interview. Good Job! Okay, I'll give you permission to be proud of yourself.
Your Friend, m.
Also, I'm digging the Hebrew name of the comicstrip. How would you pronounce that? m.

Julie said...

AWESOME! Congrats :)

Mickey said...

Thanks guys!

It's pretty much written phonetically since it's a word in Hebrew. Meh-ha-mem. It means Shockingly (good).