To mark the occasion, The Beat took the opportunity to catch up with Gant over email. We asked about the origins of Beware of Toddler, learned what other comics depict parenthood with a similar uncompromising zeal, and leapt at the chance to ask about video games!
AVERY KAPLAN: What was the genesis of Beware of Toddler?
GEORGE GANT: Beware of Toddler began as a result of a simple game of hide-and-seek. Once while playing, I hid in a closet thinking that it would take a few minutes for my 2-year-old daughter to find me, hopefully giving me a breather while doing so. I was wrong–she found me immediately, despite this being my first time hiding there. I found it funny enough to draw a comic strip about it.
KAPLAN: Can you tell us about the journey from self-published webcomic to your upcoming Father’s Day debut on ComicsKingdom.com?
GANT: Sure! Though I’ve only been working on Beware of Toddler since 2019, I began drawing webcomics long before that. After discovering webcomics such as Penny Arcade and comic strips like The Boondocks, I felt like it was finally time to create my own, which led to my first two webcomics; The Reset Button and On the Grind. From there, I began drawing all-ages content exclusively, which led to the second iteration of The Reset Button, in addition to various freelance projects. I tried to reboot Reset again, but then that game of hide-and-seek that led to Toddler’s creation occurred. Its success came out of nowhere for me, but I knew it was the thing I needed to focus on moving forward. Since then, the comic has been read by millions and nominated for several awards, including a Ringo. It even won one; a Glyph Comics Award for Rising Star. These, along with the book’s Kickstarter and joining Comics Kingdom, occurred in such a short amount of time that I don’t feel like I’ve fully processed it all yet.
KAPLAN: Earlier this year you shipped copies of Toddlerhood!: A Beware of Toddler Collection to Kickstarter backers. Can you tell us what this experience was like?
GANT: With my first two books (based on On the Grind), I had a publisher; the only things I did were a.) draw the comics and b.) lay the book out. With my third book (based on the Reset reboot), I used a print-on-demand service where my duties were the same.
Toddlerhood! was the first book that I tried to self-publish on my own and the only one I have ever run any sort of crowdfunding campaign. Despite feeling like I didn’t know what I was doing, I was still able to reach my goal in around 72 hours. I was also able to offer new rewards for the backers as a result. Since Toddlerhood didn’t have a publisher or used a POD service, I had to pack and ship everything myself. It was a lot of work that I wasn’t used to at the time, but it was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had recently.
KAPLAN: Do you have a favorite video game (a) of the past few years, and (b) of all time?
GANT: As a life-long gamer, I can say that Elden Ring is easily the best game I’ve played in the last five years. It’s pretty difficult at first, but once the gameplay loop clicks, the experience is one of the finest games out there.
My favorite game of all time, though? That’s a tricky question, but if I had to pick just one, I think it would be Halo 3. It was incredible when it launched in 2007 and is still a lot of fun to play today.
KAPLAN: Is there any other comic depiction of parenthood that you find particularly apt?
GANT: A few comics come to mind at the moment: Fowl Language is one of my favorite comics that shows that parenting can be rough and downright exhausting. I can say the same thing about Litterbox Comics. The “exasperated parent” genre of comics is one I can relate to the most these days. You also have Lunarbaboon, which is in a similar, albeit more optimistic vein. When it comes to parenting comics, these are some of my absolute favorites and the ones I relate to the most.
KAPLAN: Is there any topic related for fatherhood that is off-limits, or is everything fair game when it comes to Beware of Toddler?
GANT: I think nearly everything is fair game. If I can take a situation related to parenting, no matter how ugly, and make it humorous or insightful while also making sure it is appropriate for an all-ages audience, then I will. I may cut back on topical comics moving forward, as I don’t want any comics to feel aged, but that’s about it.
KAPLAN: Are there any comics (or any other types of stories) that have been particularly inspirational to you while making Beware of Toddler?
GANT: Outside of the few I mentioned above, I’ve also been inspired by Lucas Turnbloom’s How to Cat. My biggest comic inspiration has been Calvin and Hobbes. I grew up in the 80s and 90s and to me, that was not only the greatest comic strip of the era but the greatest comic strip ever made. As a person of color, I’ve also been inspired by comics such as Curtis and Jumpstart.
Outside of comics, I’ve been greatly inspired by animated family sitcoms. The Simpsons is still a show I watch to this day, along with The Boondocks, Rick and Morty, and Bob’s Burgers. There are aspects of Hair Love that have inspired me as well. To me, Toddler’s greatest non-comics influence has to be Tom and Jerry, though. The relationship between The Dad and Toddler characters is a cat-and-mouse relationship at its core.
KAPLAN: Is there anything else you’d like me to include?
GANT: I wouldn’t know what to add, honestly. Uh…please read the comic? I hear it’s good.
Are you going to check out Beware of Toddler on Comics Kingdom? The Beat wants to hear from you! Give us a shout-out, here in the comment section or over on social media @comicsbeat.