Two Voices of Experience on Comics as a Career

I don’t have much to add to these links, especially since they’re practicing artists of long experience, and they’re providing the kind of advice that you either listen to and take to heart or you suffer through yourself.

Stephen R. Bissette lays out in gruesome detail why most writers, especially those with unpublished screenplays, can’t afford to hire an artist to realize their vision.

If he had the time to work for little or no pay, then he’d be working on his own projects. He makes the point firmly that it takes more time to draw than it does to write, so it takes a lot of effort and a significant time investment to make a good graphic novel, and that work needs to be compensated. There’s also a lot of good detail covering questions you should be able to answer about co-ownership and design rights. It’s summed up like this:

There is a fond, very persuasive, very pervasive fantasy right now in the minds of writers, agents, editors, publishers, and the public that graphic novels are magic carpets.

That they are magic carpets easily, cheaply, quickly woven.

And that artists are (a) dying to do them, (b) dying to do them working from other’s scripts, or in collaboration with others, and (c) DYING to do them for little or no money up front, and that (d) graphic novels=movie deals, so just saying, “Hey, I’ll let you adapt my idea into a graphic novel and we’ll share the money from the movie!” is somehow inviting to starving artists, and we should be thankful to partake of such sterling opportunities (instead of, like, continuing to plow away on our own projects we subsidize by working dayjobs, teaching, or working freelance on other projects to buy a day a week to work on our pet personal projects). …

So, make it worth our while. … And please, don’t waste our time.

We do that just fine ourselves, left to our own devices, without any problem.

Colleen Doran, meanwhile, tells a sad tale of someone incapable of taking care of themselves who blamed everyone else for why they didn’t have a career as a comic artist.

My completely unprovable theory is that some emotionally-challenged people are attracted to fantasy-oriented careers in hopes of creating a world they can enjoy, and in which they can find acceptance. And when they can’t find joy in that career, when the work doesn’t make up for the other things wrong in their lives, they implode.

Comics is a business. It is not a nurturer, it won’t make up for the fact that you were picked on in high school, it isn’t the family you never had, it’s not the boyfriend who will love you. It’s a very tough business. It won’t make you happy if you are not happy. It will make you even unhappier if you can’t be happy without it.

She goes on to share a story about following the career you want, not the one you may be talented at. Find one you can support yourself with, too — emotional highs don’t make up for starving and the inability to afford medical care. You can make art while making a living in some other way, if that’s the best choice for you.

2 Responses to “Two Voices of Experience on Comics as a Career”

  1. William George Says:

    My only worry is that some fanboy with a portfolio somewhere will read Bissette’s and Doran’s words and decide that being an IP babysitter is the best they can hope to do with the medium.

  2. If not more chaos, at least more links ... | Job Stalker Says:

    […] enter a comics as a career; thankfully, Comics Worth Reading links to two articles that suggest that is not as easy as it sounds; […]




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