Being a Comic Book Artist

The pay sucks, the industry is brutal.

Don’t produce a masterpiece, just be on time.

I heard this growing up as a starry-eyed artistic kid, enamored of the comic-book shop smell that was probably just dust, body odor, and the old plastic sleeves on the back-issues stacked in boxes in the back.

I went to conventions and grilled the artists. How did you do it? What was your big break? I practice drawing panels every day!

Nobody wants to crush a kid’s dreams, but they wanted to be honest. I know people in the industry, one of them told me.  Very rarely do unknowns make a big break, get discovered.

I remember not liking that answer. I explored wed comics; dreamed of being that freelance rising star that got a book deal after becoming popular online. I tried that out in high school. I was consistent, uploaded a page every day. Got a few followers, but not the attention I thought I’d get.

“If you can live a happy life without making comics, then I suggest you don’t make comics. The industry is brutal and soul crushing. The pay sucks. You could work for months or years on a project only to be met with a resounding “Meh” from the public.”Christopher Hastings

The realization that I could work very hard, get discovered, and then not even make a living wage was one of the biggest disappointments of my young life. The life of a creator, as reiterated to me over and over by artists that gave me their ear, was one of being a cog in a machine.

And yet, I keep dreaming. I’m on spring break from art school, where I’m studying traditional methods. It’s grueling, hard, and expects perfection. So to sort of unwind, I’ve returned to my love of comics. I started drawing fanart, depicting traditionally male superheroes as female.

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Robin the GIRL WONDER!

You can check out the gallery on my Deviantart. Only if you are so inclined.

And yet, foolishly, doggedly, I find myself looking up “how to become a comic artist.”

Because I’m just a silly dreamer after all.

The Oxford Comma That Cost Millions

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Photo Credit Stefan Kuhn

Ever been told that you’re a grammar snob, that your pedantry over correct usage is out of touch with colloquial humankind? (It’s not, “can I go to the bathroom,” rather it’s “may.”) Get out the schadenfreude, because the milkmen and women of Maine have brought a successful challenge to the dairy industry because some lawmaker didn’t check the grammar books!

I’m talking about the Oxford Comma. In Maine, the dispute over the meaning of an overtime law came down to the placement of said comma. Dairy delivery drivers were seeking overtime pay. It was understood that the overtime law did not apply to food production and all related industries around it, but the law was ambiguous when it came to distribution.

Casey C. Sullivan Explains over at FindLaw:

If distribution was meant to be exempted, an Oxford comma would clearly separate it from packing: “packing for shipment, or distribution.” But if packing was meant to be a singular activity, applying both to packing for shipment and packing for distribution, no comma would be needed, and delivery drivers would not be exempted.

The language not being clear, the court decided to side with the drivers.

Pay attention in English class, folks.

Of Course I Spent St. Patty’s At A SciFi Book Club WTF Did You Do?

Yup.

I spent St. Patrick’s day at a science fiction book club discussing John Scalzi’s Redshirts with a bunch of guys my dad’s age.

Just to contrast ourselves to socially amiable people wearing greenshirts. Also there was no booze, also fanny packs were present.Why are you asking how high school went? Why is that relevant?

Shirt color aside, Redshirts was amazingly fun and hilarious.

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The Picardigan!

“The pulse gun is ineffective against Borgovian Land Worms!” Davis heard Science Officer Q’eeng say over the unspeakable noise of thrashing worms. “The frequency of the pulse sends them into a frenzy. Ensign Davis has just called every worm in the area!”

You couldn’t have told me this before I fired? Davis wanted to scream. You couldn’t have said, Oh, by the way, don’t fire a pulse gun at a Borgovian Land Worm at our mission briefing? On the ship? At which we discussed landing on Borgovia? Which has fucking land worms?

I needed it. Read it if you find yourself needing a laugh.

Outlining Is a Myth Nobody Does It Fight Me

I complained about my inability to outline in 2015  and I’m here to report I’m still terrible at it. My outlines look like the drunkards that planned the roads in the city of Boston: WE DON’T CARE WHERE YOU’RE TRYING TO GO. YOUR CATEGORIES ARE MEANINGLESS. NORTH? SOUTH? HAHAHAHA.

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Seriously, I suck: I have always been horrible with maps and directions. I will turn it upside-own and end up across a bridge in another state wondering wtf happened. Turn on the GPS; I don’t care if it leads me to the desert, at least the nice lady-voice told me where to go and I gave it my best shot.

But you can’t write a story without a road map Becky!

Nyaaa nyaaaa you DON’T SAY.

Have a destination? Great! No idea how you’re going to get there. Start with a good hook and then DERAIL IT MOFOS WE’RE OFFROADING.

Think this will work for me?

 

Short Fiction News: Pulphouse Is Back

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I’m a bit green when it comes to fandom, but I noticed a stir of excitement among the older fans I know at the announcement that Pulphouse Publishing is back.

The publishing house will return in 2018 after a twenty year break, and be run by the husband and wife team of Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Big  news for short fiction markets indeed. They are not taking submissions, but Dean announced that he’s bought some great stories for Pulphouse Fiction Magazine’s revival and will let everyone know when they’re taking subscriptions.

A scan of their contents shows that many of the authors who got their start publishing in Pulphouse went on to have successful careers as science fiction and fantasy authors. Good magazines are the gatekeepers!

Sign me up, I say.

The Difference Between Men And Women

He looked down at his phone. “Car will be here soon,” he reported.

“What color is the car?” she asked, standing on her tip-toes to get a clear view of the road from the peopled sidewalk.

“It says black.” He replied.

“What’s the license plate number? Do we have the driver’s name?” She asked.

“Man, you really check them out, huh?”

 

FIN

Riverdale Falls Short of My Expectations

I’ve been watching Riverdale lately and I’m struck by how so many parts of the show appear to be written by adults engaging in wish fulfillment. What if Archie, a character from a silly comic book your grandparents read, was a hot football player and song writer having an affair with his attractive music teacher? What if Betty was the unrequited girl-next-door who also had a dark, sexy side, and she handcuffs a football player to a hot tub in a fit of pique?

Yup.

This kind of sensationalism might be something teen dramas can fall into (I’m thinking Gossip Girl, etc.). My problem with it is the lack of verisimilitude. We might all wish we could be this version of Archie or Betty. But a good story resolves those tensions by showing the push and pull between dreams and reality. Failing to do so reduces the medium to maudlin nonsense or pedantry. Without contraries, no progression.

Let’s look at another category of teen dramas: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Breakfast Club. These stories resonate more because they tap into something real about the teenage experience. They treat the liminal stage between childhood and adulthood as something worth respect: there’s witty dialogue, heavy problems, the desire to guide oneself yet be guided. They make you laugh and then cry.

I have high expectations for teen characters, and as a lifelong reader of Archie Comics, Riverdale is falling short.