Geek Hard are very good to me. They tend to let me write about whatever I want as long as it’s at least sort of nerd related and have no problem letting me write about my personal thoughts and feelings (which tend to be nerdy). But this week in particular, we’re going rather personal.

Last Wednesday evening, the woman referred to as The Lady (her friends call her Gen) accepted my proposal for us to be married as husband and wife. And I did this with the help of one of our favorite artists in the world, Jill Thompson.

If you’re a long time reader, you’ll know that I have a special place in my fandom heart for Jill. Not only is she an incredible artist with a huge wealth of talent, skill and variety, as a person, I rather like her. We have a few similar interests (wrestling and comics) and she tends to put up with my tweets and questions with a great amount of humor and grace. She’s also one of the nicest people I’ve met in comics but weirdly enough she played a pretty important inspirational role in my plans to propose to Gen.

Gen and I first met via an internet dating site. Despite being unemployed at the time, she took a chance on me in part due to our similar interests, one of which being comics. While talking to each other over hot chocolate and tea, the subject of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman came up and as it turned out we both loved the series. We had both met Neil at different signings but I had a slight one up as I had met Jill at a convention.

Fast forward¬† to 2011, I happen to be co-hosting a panel about couples who work in comics with my friend Shelly Smarz. Included on said panel was Stuart and Kathryn Immonen, Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick and Brian Azzarello and Jill Thompson. Essentially this was kind of a thrown together panel with the idea that all of these couples might have an interesting outlook in comics due to being together. The panel itself was okay (it was really hard to come up with interesting “married in comics” questions) and the panelists were great… but where the panel got interesting for them and scary for me was when Azzarello answered a question with:

“… what’s so hard about that… un married guy?”

For the next few minutes, it became dogpile on Brent.

Fraction was the first to the fray with “I’ve got a question for Mr Fear Of Commitment down there” and I mentioned as a retort that I was looking into getting married. Then everyone chimed in “Why don’t we call her and you can propose to her right now?” “Well I have to talk to her parents first.” “We can call them too!” “I haven’t got a ring yet”, “You can buy one downstairs in artist’s alley!”

Being teased by these fabulous folks is both cool and incredibly frightening at the same time. But Jill took a little pity on me and after the panel gave me a few suggestions for what I could do for a proposal ideas, which was really cool. I didn’t end up using them but it did spawn an idea which I test drove that Christmas.

I commissioned Jill to do a black and white inked sketch of the Little Endless version of Death (pictured right) for Gen’s present. It was our first real Christmas together and I wanted to make sure I got her something special and a little different.¬† Gen loved it and it currently has a nice home in our office.

Moving forward to last year. Jill is once again a guest of Fan Expo and knowing I want to propose within a few months after Fan Expo, I contact Jill and request a commission in the Little Endless style but this time it’s me on one knee proposing, the idea being Gen opens up the picture and then sees me proposing in real life. Jill was game for it. I emailed her a few photos for reference and waited to see what would come out of it.

Beyond that, I trusted Jill in terms of everything because honestly, she’s so good that I knew even if it didn’t come out as I pictured it in my head it would 1) still be awesome and 2) Gen would love it.

What I didn’t know was exactly how awesome it would turn out.

Fan Expo rolls around and I’m in line to pick up the sketch. Jill sees me and kind of squints at me for a second to double check I am who she thinks I am. I get up to her and she proceeds to say something along the lines of “Okay… so I know we originally talked about a black and white sketch but I kind of went more then that… because how could I not?”

And then she pulls this out.

I damn near cried.

I’m not a real outwardly emotional guy but what I had thought of as black and white sketch had been turned into this beautiful watercolor masterpiece of a much cuter version of me. And from that point on, Jill Thompson got me as a life long friend. If Jill need’s a ride from the airport in Toronto, I would gladly pick her up. Art supplies for the con? No problem. Dispose of a dead body for her before the police arrive? Yeah, I can manage that.

And what’s more important, I knew Gen would love it.

So last Wednesday was Gen and I’s third anniversary. We’ve gotten a house together and there is no one I would rather spend the rest of my life with then her. So at the end of the evening, she got her gift, opened it up to the picture you see above and then saw the ring I had in my hands and said yes. It was a pretty sweet moment if I do say so myself even though I can’t really remember much of what was said after that.

And I don’t want you guys to think I’m just putting this together to brag. I’ve noticed over the past few years that we see video of tons of these nerdy proposals, like the one where the guy proposes to his girlfriend in front of Patrick Stewart and Stewart says “Engage” but we never hear about how it was put together and I figured I’d share my story in the hopes of giving you guys who may be thinking of doing something similar some ideas. Proposing is a bit of a nerve racker, especially if you’re not sure on what to do. Now I’m not saying copy my idea but maybe you’ll get a spark of something in this story to fuel your own inspiration.

And did I mention that I had the forethought to get Jill’s thoughts on the commission, making me cute, marriage advice and got the whole thing on tape? Like I said, Geek Hard is good to me and indulged me a little with this at Fan Expo.

And now you know why Jill Thompson is awesome and how she helped me propose to my girlfriend.

If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!

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