It all began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 21, 1989. A blonde hair, hazel eyed baby arrived to a German-Italian Catholic family of brunettes – her mom, dad, sister, and brother - in their rowhome on Longshore Avenue. She was a quiet, easy kid who colored nicely, read well, and often got lost in her own thoughts, ruining pictures with a distant dreamy gaze.
(We can only be sure that she was solving some of the world’s greatest mysteries in these moments; regrettably she does not remember any of her childhood solutions.)
Comics, movies, and video games were few and far between in the Edwards household. However, Erin’s parents bought a home in Winterhaven, Florida just outside of Orlando, aka Disney World. With season passes and a trip twice a year, Terri and Bob created a system. The family loaded into their maroon conversion van before sunrise and the kids slept on the bed in the back until they woke to play the 1990 Sega Genesis hooked up to a TV held between the driver and passenger seat which Bob engineered. With only one game, two times a year for about 10 hours, Erin was a Sonic the Hedgehog master. That is unless, a VHS of Pocahontas or The Lion King played.
As tradition has it, they moved to the suburbs for a big backyard with a trampoline and a driveway large enough for half a basketball court. Her dad took pride in measuring the dimensions and painting it precisely to pair with his homemade wooden backboard. Erin spent hours in that driveway with the neighborhood boys, family, friends, or simply alone. By the time middle school rolled around she began her day waking early to deliver newspapers (because “money doesn’t grow on trees” and “everything must be earned”), catching the bus to school, attending field hockey, basketball, or lacrosse practice before her much more serious and intense travel team basketball practice later in the evening. Weekends were reserved for tournaments. Her schedule was busy. Thoughts of superheroes never crossed her young mind. In essence she was molded to be an All American kid – by the time she graduated high school she was a three-time AAU National Champion, the Captain of three varsity teams, a stellar student, and the Student Council President.
All roads for an All-American lead to the United States Naval Academy. She majored in English where she could be rewarded for her ponderance of life, while she struggled through required engineering courses and balanced a division I basketball schedule. A fellow midshipman even tried to pay her to watch Star Wars, but she just didn’t have the time to fit in with the cool, sci-fi kids. Maybe the most superhero-like aspect of her existence occurred upon commissioning into the United States Navy, when she was selected for the flight program.
Eat, sleep, study, fly. Eat when you can, sleep with books underneath the pillow in the hopes it soaks into your brain, study at a level that is nearly impossible, fly like you’ve done it before (even though you haven’t). On the weekend, drink. Drink diesel fuels, drink Irish wakes, drink Bushwackers. Drink like your life depends on it, like your sanity depends on it. This is the life of a student naval aviator.
She had no idea the degree of commitment, determination, and grit required to succeed in the program. In 2 years, her and her fellow classmates endured jumping from a 10m platform and swimming underwater to a distance that made her lungs feel they were undoubtedly exploding, swimming a mile in a flight suit, boots, and vest, being strapped into a helicopter and turned upside down into a pool to simulate a crash where one is then expected to remain calm, collect their surroundings with water rushing up their nose and whirling around, when everything is literally backwards. They must do this four times, twice with blacked out goggles to simulate nighttime. Aviation is fun, the helo dunker is not.
A typical day in Naval aviation consists of a 2-hour oral examination where the examiner is seated beside the second pilot in a cubicle and proceeds to grill them on a list of roughly 10 briefing items which were studied the night before. The expectation is to learn the ins and outs of all of the aircraft systems and draw them from memory. The pilot in training’s brain feels like it is slowly frying. But they haven’t even set foot into the cockpit yet. Go to preflight the aircraft, more quizzing. Execute your start checklist, quizzing. Finally make a radio call to Ground to taxi and simultaneously, turn into mush in the seat. Then, the flight begins. Perform a series of maneuvers which have specific parameters which have also been studied the night before and put to memory. Fly home from the maneuvers and are quizzed on the airspace arriving back to the field while executing radio calls. Finally land in a parking spot and breathe a sigh of relief only to arrive home an hour later and begin studying new topics and flight maneuvers for the next day. It is a grind unlike anything she has ever experienced. This continues for 2 years flying three different aircraft – Cessna, T-34 Turbo Prop jet, and TH-57B/C. Finally, you have earned your wings of gold and may enter the club.
She was stationed in the land of milk and honey, sweet San Diego, in the greatest squadron known to man, HSM-75 “The Wolfpack.” She deployed twice. Once in the Middle East and once in the South China Sea, stopping in places like Djibouti, Oman, Sri Lanka, Hawaii, Japan, and South Korea. Just like in the movies, she had a callsign, not nearly as cool as “Maverick” because callsigns are a rite of passage meant to embarrass a pilot. She was deemed “Slomo” in reference to the speed at which she speaks, often being told she seems like a super relaxed, far-out stoner. It was the time she tried to convince a room full of pilots that the ocean is a metaphor for life when her callsign solidified and the rest is history.
Maybe this video from Tailhook '22 Aviation Conference will give you a better idea...
It wasn’t until meeting her roommate, Gabe Valentin, the author of Digital Lizards of Doom that she was introduced into nerd culture. He gave her a chance to interview Mike Towry, the co-founder of San Diego Comic Con which led her to Comic Book Curious. In just a few short months she has learned that nerd culture is so much more than action figures and video games. It’s about connecting people from all facets of life regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, sexuality, and age, from all levels of nerdom, and being free to express yourself in a judge free zone where your imagination is welcomed because these universes and multiverses are so much more interesting and complex than the stereotypes which we use to label planet earth.
At Comic Book Curious we are so excited to kick off the New Year with a bang! We are partnering with some of the best creators in the biz, joining events in the San Diego area, covering Comic Cons across the globe, introducing new writers and new perspectives on ageless topics. We look forward to sharing human interest stories within the world of comics with you daily! Stay tuned my friends, the best is yet to come! Cheers to 2023!
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We hope to see you there!,