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.

TheGirlWonder_Web

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.

I Met Kate Beaton!

2015-09-28 18.28.08Fun times at the Brattle in Cambridge yesterday. I got a signed copy of Kate Beaton’s new book, Step Aside, Pops and got to see her talk about her work.  She sounds just like she should: quick, funny, smart, and very approachable. Everything she says could easily become her next strip.

If you don’t read her web comic, Hark, a Vagrant then do it NOW and get ready to spit on the keyboard with laughter. She puts all of her stuff up for free so buying the book is a way to support her, something I was very glad to do.

The event was sold out and was open to Q&A from the audience, and my favorite part  was a small girl who looked like she was in 2nd grade wanted to ask Kate about her pony drawings. Pretty adorable, and I could tell that the kid was talking to her hero, so it was a cool thing to witness.

When signing my book, Kate told me she had a sister named Becky, and said, “Do people always say “OH MY GOD BECKY, to you?”

To which I said: My whole childhood, Kate. Indeed.

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