A few days ago my mother said something I wasn’t really expecting, and that something that she said was this:

“I looked on the internet and read your Atroxity graphic novel.”

A little background: my mother–who is quite possibly the most kind hearted and genuinely good person I know–has long had a somewhat conflicted relationship with my creative output.  During my high school years she read a horror-tinged fantasy story of mine, and her reaction was to ask me if I was “obsessed with death.”  She didn’t even try to understand the band I was in for the majority of my 20′s, but I can’t blame her on that front–it was good music, but not exactly the kind of thing a parent can share with friends over Sunday brunch.

Through all of this she consistently had one suggestion, which was to consider dropping my latest “adult” project that she didn’t quite get in favor of writing books aimed at pre-teen boys.

“Why don’t you write a book for your nephews,” she’d say, because inspiration and creative energy is so easily channeled into any one particular avenue as opposed to another.

Which, uh, might be the case for writers who actually make money, but that isn’t the point here.

I also don’t blame my mom for wanting her talented son to choose a pursuit that she might appreciate, but this also isn’t the point.

The point is I’m apparently obsessed with death and therefore creatively at odds with my lovely mother, and because of this I’ve told her about Atroxity without directing her toward Atroxity’s online presence.

As such, “I looked on the internet and read your Atroxity graphic novel” came as a bit of a surprise.

“The artwork is amazing,” she said to her son the writer, “although the story starts out a bit rough.”

In this she did have a point.

“And the language,” she said,” You use…a lot of words.  My book club was talking the other day about how the C-word is the worst word, and, well, you used it.”

“It’s true, I did,” I agreed.

“I don’t think I can recommend we read this for book club,” she said, sort of laughing.

“Probably not.”

My father-in-law, for the record, has also read Atroxity in its entirety (so far), and he had a slightly different take on the language.

“I think it’s great,” he said, smiling, “but with all the words you used you forgot the word “bitch.”  You really need to work “bitch” in there.”

I really do love my father-in-law.

As for my mother, we talked a bit more about Atroxity, and I attempted to frame everything she had read.  It isn’t the kind of thing that she would read or enjoy if her son weren’t involved with it–I’ve long joked that Atroxity is about dark things happening to dark people in dark locations, after all–but I’ve got to hand it to my mom: she actually managed a pretty admirable job of trying to appreciate Atroxity for what it is.

She did have a final comment, though.

“Once you’ve done enough of this, you should try to write a story for your nephews.”

I really do love my mom.