Is Clear Blue Water based on your family’s real life? 

The answer is yes and no.  Certainly there are similarities.  We have the same ethnicity and political leanings as the Torres family, and we both have five children, (including an autistic child).  But, everyone in my family is older by a few years than their Torres counterpart, and the birth order of the kids is different as well.

They are a fictional family with fictional problems and storylines that usually bear very little witness, if ANY, to what’s going on in my own life at the time.  I might draw on my life and my past to write for Manny and Eve, but I consider my children’s lives to be off limits.  I don’t (except on the rarest of occasions, and with their full permission) pull specifics out of their lives to use as fodder for the strip.  I will draw on themes though.  If one of the kids has a problem with bullying, I might, years later, write some strips about a bully.  The strips would be about a fictional situation whose course and resoulution would be different from what really happened in our life.

Take the autism storyline.  Seth is based loosely on my son, but their stories are very different.  Seth has received much better early intervention and services than my son received when he was young, and consequently he has a better long-term prognosis than my son.  But, like my son, Seth will never recover.  I just refuse to write it.  Seth’s story drew from our story, but it also drew from my best friend’s story with her autistic son, and from things I’d read and heard about…  This works for us.

Eve is not me.  We both are liberals, we both have curly hair and big mouths, and we both get exasperated with our husbands.  But I am nowhere NEAR as outspoken as she is.  She says things I only wish I had the guts to say to someone’s face.  Not that I can’t go there, but I have to get pretty darn mad and be pushed pretty far before I will explode.  Her boiling point is way lower than my own.  She’s also quippier than I am.  Manny and my husband are also different.  One time I asked him what he though was their greatest difference, and he deadpanned, “Well, he’s a CARTOON character.”  ‘Nuff said.

I’ll end with one of my favorite stories of all time.  It comes from the folks at Sesame Street.  I hope it’s true, as I’ve loved it for years.  As the story goes, someone wrote in to them demanding to know if Ernie and Bert were a gay couple living together, and why would they choose to show this on a children’s program and blah blah blah.  This was their response.  “Ernie and Bert are not gay.  They are puppets, not humans.”