No matter what anyone says, Tom Taylor is a nice guy. Sure, he has a certain skill set that includes killing off some of my favorite characters. And yes, he does have a tendency to balance a good cliff-hanger for an inhuman amount of time. And of course, the guy knows how to scare the bejeebus out of me with a zombie or two. But then there is the work he does with The Deep, a comic book series filled with positive messages and amazing inspiration. And when a 12-year-old boy said this to Tom, he responded with “No, man. I’m inspired by what YOU are doing with this!”
That’s how I know he is a nice guy.
For those not familiar, The Deep is one of Tom’s non-DC/Marvel projects. In our family, Tom is first and foremost known for creating The Deep. Tom brought the oceans to the front-of-screen and showed our spawnlings how awesome it is to care about everything in the sea. The series centres around the amazing family of Nektons, explorers and heroes for the oceans. This family of scientists have many great adventures while maintaining a healthy respect for marine life, marine resources, and marine archaeology. No-one in our family loves it more than our eldest spawnling; EG Sinister dreams of being a marine biologist. And this was just the beginning of their friendship.
The Dream: Going For Galapagos
Let’s rewind a bit. So, EG Sinister wants to be a marine biologist–well, more specifically, he wants to be a marine herpetologist and study marine reptiles but he loves all marine life and is happy to study a few other species before working in his specialised field. By the way: EG Sinister is 12-years-old and currently studying in Grade 8. When I was 12, I was reading X-Men comics and watching Press Gang. Don’t get me wrong; he is a pretty average kid who likes playing Subnautica and reading his own collection of comics, including The Deep. However, he is actually doing something about his interests and meeting loads of cool people along the way. Clearly, he didn’t get this from me.
A few years back, he talked about how he much he would love to see the Galapagos Islands and all the marine life there. EG Dad and I decided to offer a special project to each of the kids: At the end of primary school (grade 6), each kid can choose somewhere special to travel to with one parent as a chaperone. However, they have to earn and save for the trip all by themselves, along with planning and management of the trip.
Sinister chose Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, which gave him a financial goal of $6000 to save in 2-years. Clearly, a $5 per-week kids allowance was not going to reach this goal. What’s a kid to do?
He busked. At least once a week, EG Sinister was busking with his trumpet all around Sydney, Australia. While he was busking he was also raising awareness of marine conservation efforts and the amazing research taking place around the Galapagos Islands. After two years of hard work, Sinister very proudly declared he was ready to go!! He saved up the money, booked his flights, arranged accommodation, and even had money left over to buy a GoPro to take diving. (You can check out the awesome adventure on his Facebook and Instagram accounts: @goingforgalapagos)
The People You Meet: Mother of Sharks
After every busking session, Sinister would come home and talk about the people he was meeting on this journey. One of the earliest supporters was Dr Melissa Cristina Marquez, a Latina marine biologist with as much passion for sharks as Sinister himself. Dr Marquez is well-known as the “Mother of Sharks”, gaining awe and respect for her amazing work with the Discovery Channel during Shark Week. She shared stories with Sinister about her education, her research, and her travels. From Dr Marquez, Sinister realised how important it is to connect with people who share your interests and work together to spread the message. And it motivated him even further.
Sinister wanted to meet even more people to share this message. He wanted to meet people at the research centres in the Galapagos Islands. He wanted to meet other school kids like him. And most of all, he wanted to meet Tom Taylor and tell him in person how much The Deep meant to him. Sinister wanted to say thank you to Tom for sharing the Nektons with the world.
Tom Taylor Really is a Nice Guy
As luck would have it, for Free Comic Book Day 2018, Tom was signing at our local comic bookstore (Kings Comics). This was Sinister’s opportunity to say thanks to Tom. He dressed as Ant Nekton–complete with his own Jeffrey. This was Sinister’s moment to show how much it meant to him to read comics about kids his age doing marine biology stuff.
When Sinister approached the table, he was nervous. He was worried his cosplay wasn’t good enough to be recognised as Ant Nekton. And then Tom looked up. And he smiled. It was a huge brilliant smile, filled with recognition and respect!! Tom yelled, “ANT!!” and Sinister just beamed with pride. His nerves melted away as he calmly said thanks to Tom for creating The Deep. Tom was quick to point out it was a team effort with the artist, James Brouwer (giving Sinister a new mission, but that’s a story for another day…) For Tom, he was so thrilled to see someone equally passionate about The Deep and marine conservation and all the cool stuff. When he heard about “Going for Galapagos”, Tom was truly touched by his part in supporting Sinister. As a guy who used to busk, Tom could totally appreciate the amount of work Sinister was undertaking to fulfil his dreams. This was no half-hearted effort; something that Tom and Sinister both shared and respected.
So what made Tom such a “nice guy” in our books? He continued to support and inspire Sinister in his adventures. Sinister reached his goal and travelled to the Galapagos Islands in January 2019. The week before departure, we were lucky enough to see Tom again. Tom asked about the upcoming travels and what was planned. They shared stories about scuba diving and marine wildlife, with the promise of sharing plenty of photos when Sinister returned home. As much as he may be known for zombies and brainwashing and killing off Lois Lane, Tom Taylor was also the man who asked a 12-year-old boy for tips and stories about marine biology. Tom made a kid feel like he could take on the world and inspire others; just like Tom did with his stories.
From One Story to Many
When Sinister travelled to Ecuador, he was invited to visit the Academia Cotopaxi, the American International School. He met with many other students just like him and talked about his journey to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. During the talk, he was asked what influenced him to study marine biology and go on such an adventure. This answer was easy.
Sinister pulled out Volumes 1 and 2 of The Deep, along with a copy of Blueback by Tim Winton. Sinister told the students about Dr Marquez and the importance of sharing our stories. He then told them about Tom Taylor, a man who is famous for comics about Spider-Man and Superman but who still made time for a 12-year-old boy who loves the ocean. Sinister told the students about passion and inspiration from books and people who can share their stories. And he told them how positive support makes the biggest impact of all.
Tom Taylor is a pretty famous writer who likes to kill off our favorite superheroes. But for our family, he is the guy who showed a kid how to turn a story into inspiration. And that wave of inspiration continues across the world, from Australia right across to the Galapagos Islands.
Face it, Tom. You’re a nice guy.