Meet the Ardins! They’re the stars of Edge City, a groundbreaking comic strip that follows a hip Jewish-American family juggling relationships, careers and tradition at the fast pace of modern life. Len owns a delivery service, and Abby is a psychologist. Fueled by caffeine and gasoline, they and their kids, Colin and Carly, power their way through self-employment, after-school activities, pursuing their dreams and lining up for carpool.
Len and Abby take stress for granted—but not each other. Modern marriage isn’t easy, but the Ardins make it work, facing what life throws at them with intelligence, humor and an occasional hissy fit. It also helps to have friends and family, the latest self-help book, weekend rock-and-roll sessions and decent carryout. So, pack the kids off to school, grab a latte and try to beat rush hour on I-25—it’s life on the edge every day in Edge City!
Terry and Patty LaBan are the co-creators of Edge City. Terry LaBan, a Detroit native, graduated from the University of Michigan’s School of Art with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1984. After traveling around the world, he returned to Ann Arbor in 1986 and began drawing political cartoons and illustrations for the Ann Arbor News. In 1986, he met Patty and they soon relocated to Chicago, where he got a job as a staff artist for In These Times, an alternative weekly, for which he continues to illustrate and cartoon to this day. He also began a 10-year stint in the comic book industry, writing and drawing three comic book series of his own for Fantagraphics Books and Dark Horse Comics and also working as a writer for a variety of publishers, including DC Comics. Terry’s work has appeared in a number of venues, including Details, Nickelodeon Magazine and MAD Magazine.
Patty LaBan is a New Jersey native and holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan and a Master's of Social Work from the University of Chicago. She also traveled extensively before working for more than 10 years in community mental health programs and later starting her own private practice. She contributed informally to some of Terry’s earlier work but Edge City is her first major creative collaboration (unless you count the two kids). While Terry is the one to take pencil to paper, character and plot development are shared equally with Patty, who brings professional and personal insight regarding the characters’ trials and motivations. They live in the Philadelphia area, where they work constantly and strive to balance life’s many demands, much like their pen-and-ink characters.
Wife, mom and therapist — for Abby, there just aren't enough hours in a day. Nonetheless, Abby manages to make it all work out — at least, so far. The well-being of Abby’s family is of the utmost importance to her, but then again, so is her career. As a result, she finds herself worrying at work about whether her kids are enrolled in enough activities and wondering at home if the clients she sees at her group practice, Heads Up Mental Health Care, are insane or just neurotic. It’s a lot to deal with, but Abby tries to cultivate inner tranquility and peace of mind. So far, she isn’t sure she’s experienced either, but Abby’s not the kind to give up.
Between being Abby's husband, Colin and Carly's dad and co-owner of a business, Leadfoot Couriers, Inc., Len has his hands full. Whether he's coaching Carly's soccer team, debriefing Abby after she gets home from work or trying to hire delivery drivers who don't have unduly long police records, Len takes what life throws at him with sarcastic good humor. It's an attitude you might expect from someone who used to play in a punk rock band called The Pinkeyes. Len still regards himself, not unreasonably, as the hippest guy in his suburb, and stays true to his rock-and-roll roots by playing on the weekends with his current band, Midlife Crisis.
The Ardin kids' schedules are almost as packed as their parent's, but since they've never experienced anything different, they don't mind. At the ages of 11 and 9, Colin and Carly have studied dance, karate, soccer, computer programming and several instruments, but haven't yet been allowed to walk around their neighborhood by themselves. Colin, when not dealing with a serious video game habit, shows an early head for business, or at least figuring out how to get the maximum pay for household chores.
Carly spends her time negotiating the rocky shoals of third grade social life and worshiping pop star Dustin Blieber.
Len's business partner, Rajiv, is co-owner of Leadfoot Couriers. A second-generation Indian-American, Rajiv's calm and somewhat cautious approach to business balances Len's tendency to think a little too big at times. Rajiv's been ducking his family's attempts to arrange a marriage for him for years, but the carefree bachelor image he tries to project barely hides a romantic streak a mile wide.
Abby's parents live nearby, which makes it easy for them to spend time with the Ardins. When they have the time, that is, because Edna and Morris are, if anything, even busier than Len and Abby. Edna and Morris illustrate the principle that opposites attract. Morris is an irascible curmudgeon who prefers surfing the Internet in a spare bedroom to actually going out and dealing with real human beings, his grandchildren being the only exception. Edna, an optimistic extrovert, can't get out enough and has been spending her golden years doing everything from earning a black belt in Tae Kwon Do to running the Iditarod in Alaska.
Len's mom Bev only recently moved back into town. An unreconstructed child of the '60s, Bev would rather take her grandchildren to a protest rally than the zoo. Unfortunately for Len, her idealism is rarely tempered by common sense. But Bev's too busy dating bad boys (albeit senior-citizen ones) and questioning authority to realize how much he worries about her.