Brabner recalls "read[ing] comics when I was five or six years old – including Mad Magazine, her first exposure to political satire. Drifting away from comics as she grew older and discovered that "for the same amount of money I could get on the bus and go down to the library," she nevertheless remembered "a lot of what I'd read." Living "in Delaware working with people in prison, with kids in trouble," running a non-profit culture-based support program for inmates in the Delaware correctional system, Brabner was a founder and manager of "The Rondo Hatton Center for the Deforming Arts," a small theater space in Wilmington, Delaware. (Hatton played horror roles – The Creeper – in the early 1940s without makeup because he was severely disfigured by a glandular disease.) During this time, Brabner became friendly with "two sometime artists who were very involved in comic fandom", which "seemed like a lot of fun." Feeling burned out from "working with courts, with sexual abusers of children and so on," Brabner began working with Tom Watkins, who "was doing a lot of costumes for the Phil Seuling comic shows." Moonlighting "as a costumer while continuing to work in the prison programs [she] had organized on [her] own," while not spending much time at conventions or comic shops, she nevertheless eventually became co-owner of a comic book (and theatrical costumes) store herself. Her store stocked Harvey Pekar's American Splendor, but when the store "ran out of an issue" (one of Brabner's partners selling the last copy of American Splendor #6 without her getting a chance to read it), Brabner sent Pekar a postcard directly, asking for a copy, and the two "began to correspond." Developing a phone relationship, after a stay in the hospital by Brabner, Pekar spoke to her daily and sent her a collection of old records.