Elbert Or has been making comics and cartoons for 20 years now. As both a parent and a husband, Elbert has always used his family to motivate himself to deliver stellar work. How does he manage to juggle his career and family life? Elbert Or shares with us his secret!
Why did you decide to be a cartoonist?
I have always enjoyed telling stories and felt there were a lot of stories I wanted to read that just didn’t exist, so I just went ahead and made them. I’ve dabbled in all sorts of genres in the 20 years I’ve been making and selling comics and cartoons—from slice of life to fantasy to horror—but the ones I tend to always gravitate toward are all-ages stories, primarily for kids that adults can also enjoy.
What inspired you to work on your strip Homeycomb: A Married Life?
Homeycomb was a project that was initiated by my wife, Lorra. We were newlyweds at the time and since we were both illustrators, we were looking for something that we could collaborate on as an excuse to spend more time together. “Write what you know” is how the old adage goes, so we decided to tell stories about thinly veiled autobiographical versions of ourselves, where we shared and processed our experiences as husband and wife. We’d bounce ideas off each other, I’d do the pencil art and pass it on to her for inks and colors, and I’d do a final pass on the dialogue while lettering it.
How do you juggle work and family life?
I don’t juggle so much as integrate. I try to do as much of the care work and house chores as I can, so I invest in technology that lets me be mobile. I also bring my son to client meetings and expose him to the work so he understands and can cooperate when I have to lock the door to the home office. I’m open to clients about my role as a father and husband, and reassure them that rather than be a crutch or distraction, my family is instead an additional motivator to deliver stellar work. Being a parent has taught me to be efficient with my time, and to truly be discerning about which opportunities to say yes to. That clarity of purpose allows me to have a better sense of criteria for choosing which projects to take on.