The obscure reference has returned. This time around,
title. Anyone want to hazard a guess as to the
thinking of maybe doing a contest each month. Winner would
signed comic or an original script for one of my books or something
like that. I’ll see if I have any takers this time
figure out the exact rules and regs accordingly.
Anyway, on to our regularly scheduled programming.
I ran into one of my Friends Jeff (they are legion -- I’m not
sure how I manage to collect so many of ‘em) at the comics
other day. We both had a couple hours to kill, so we decided
kick back and catch up. This particular FJ is a pretty
artist. At one time, he was toying with the idea of becoming
comic book illustrator. Even helped out a professional friend
two with some art chores behind the scenes. Nothing major but
more than nothing, y’know?
We had a great time catching up and I showed him stuff from my recent
and upcoming projects (Mutant X: Dangerous Decisions, Gotham Girls,
Captain America: Red, White & Blue). He told me about
current career as a restaurant manager (for a nice place, too --
been over there and liked it a lot). He was grousing a bit
the day-to-day headaches and politics and frustrations of his
job. I started to grouse a bit about the day-to-day headaches
politics and frustrations of mine.
That’s when he said (and I’m paraphrasing, folks),
“See, that’s part of
why I didn’t stick with the comic book art thing.
that doing comics is somehow better and different than a
job. But all I hear from my friends who do comics is about
problems with editors or with the other talent they’re
working with or
with fans or with other pros or with not getting work. Why
that hard when you’re going to have all the same garbage to
that you would at any other job and having even less
And you know what? He’s absolutely right.
No, don’t take
that as some kind of announcement that I’m retiring from
What I mean is that people who dream of a job in comics, or even just
everyday fans, seem to think that being a freelance comic book creator
is some kind of Nirvana, free from the aforementioned headaches and
politics and frustrations of the regular workplace. Actually,
when I stop and think about it, there seem to be a lot of creators
these days who believe the very same thing.
Thing is, making comics is a job. A very cool job, to be
sure. One that lets you exercise your imagination and
creativity. One that allows you to communicate with thousands
readers (some of whom love what you do and some not so much), but still
a job. You still have to deal with other people and a host of
factors beyond your control. You still have to put in the
and get the work done. You still have to deal with a hundred
one little nagging details that have nothing to do with whether
a good writer, artist, whatever. It’s still work.
Like any other work, though, if it is what you truly love to do, all
the other stuff is worth it. Same holds true for a mechanic
doctor or a landscaper or anyone else.
Last time around, I said that the secret of my success was being too
stupid to quit. I guess that’s not entirely
true. There is
another factor that plays into it: This is what I want to do.
See, that’s another point that my FJ brought up. He
sure enough that sequential art was what he really wanted to do to make
it worth putting in the time and effort it requires to be good enough
to make a career of it. Which is another really, really good
point. You have to know that truly you want to do this
work. Otherwise, as with any other job that you
want to do, you’re either going to be miserable or
you’re going to
I wish more people were as honest with themselves as this particular FJ
when it comes to doing comics. It would save them a lot of
and energy and disillusionment.
Thing is, there’s no crime to dreaming of becoming a comics
not doing it. If every kid who ever dreamed of growing up to
become a cowboy actually did, there’d be a whole lot of
cowboys out there, right? Same holds true for
This job isn’t for everyone. It isn’t
even for everyone who has
the talent to do it. Talent, as with a lot of other work,
the only requirement. You have to be willing to accept the
the job, for what it is and weigh the pluses and minuses and decide
whether you come out ahead.
In the dream, making comics seems like such a wonderful, amazing and
totally rewarding job because there are no minuses. After
it’s a dream (a similar point was made about relationships in
Cusack movie, High Fidelity). In the dream, the potential
headaches and heartaches are easily swept aside as you stride boldly
through the industry, fighting the good fight and achieving artistic
greatness no matter what obstacles you encounter.
In real life, the minuses are there. Sometimes, the obstacles
overcome you. There’s compromise and
there’s flat out lost
battles and there are things you can’t change no matter how
want to or how hard you try.
For me, though, no matter what comes my way, no matter how many times I
get knocked down, knocked back or even knocked out, I’m going
coming back. Why? Because I really love what I
get to create stories that make people laugh or stir them to ponder or
just flat out entertain them. Ultimately, I am more master of
own destiny than in any other job I can think of that I’d
do. (Sue me, I can’t stand the idea of being in
a way, I get to pay back all the creators who gave me hours and years
of great stories and art by sharing with a new batch of
Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to inspire some reader, whether
to join the
next generation of comics creators or to achieve something else I never
When all is said and done, for me, the ups outweigh the downs and the
joys beat out the frustrations. That’s not true for
that’s not a bad thing. If you want to make comics
for a living,
you’ll have to take your own inventory and weigh things out
on your own
If the creator side wins out, welcome to the club. Aspirin
coffee and the list of therapists broken down by geographical region
are on the left.
If you decide that you don’t want to have the dream sullied
reality, that’s cool too. Just keep reading and
telling people what a great medium comics can be. The roles
different, but the audience is every bit as important as the creators.