Not a day goes by that I don’t receive a request for my thoughts on an academic paper about the retailing of comics, because it’s well-known I’ve baby-sat the cash registers of three world-class comics shops in my time; not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask me just how I launched the creative careers of folks like Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan and Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba and Matt Fraction and gave a leg up to Jason McNamara and Kirsten Baldock and Kieron Dwyer and Adam Beechen and all.
But more than a few times a day, people pitch me stuff to AiT/Planet Lar, hoping my publishing house might put their work out into the world, what with us having such a good ratio of quality versus quantity of story-telling, over the past ten years. And I have to tell them, you know, I’m not so down with their twelve-volume graphic novel cycle about a cybernetic jellyfish and his newly articulate urban zebra who team up to fight the onset of gingivitis and other awkward dental trials in the mouths of preternaturally-aware Blue Spruce trees moving, slowly, westward, on a trip of self-discovery. Ya gotta tailor your work for the publishing house that might make a go of it, yeah?
So, I don’t have any insight into any of all of that. I don’t know what sort of thing Karen Berger of Vertigo is looking for, or the kind of book that will make the boys at Oni swoon. I couldn’t tell you what Eric Stephenson at Image would greenlight, or the particular thing that might strike the fancy of the lads at Top Shelf.
I can tell you that the first thing that any would-be comic book creator should understand is that it is hard.
When you create something… that moment is a time when you are not working towards the things you need to eat and drink and live and breathe. Creation is not necessary, and yet it is vital, if you know what I mean. And if you know what I mean, you’re probably a creator. And if you’re a creator, you’re creating, and you don’t really need to hear what it is I’m going to say.
But those of you on the fence; those of you who need a bit of a push… here’s this: get yourself in the game. Do a little trash-talk. Pick up your favorite book, and know you can do better than that. “Don’t come in here into my comics world with that weak stuff,” you should say to the comic book open in front of you. And then craft your own story, or draw your own artwork, or color your page, or letter your word balloons; but do the work to put it down on paper. It is the business of art to glorify life, and you have to bleed and suffer to illuminate and instruct and entertain.
If you’d like me to tell you something different… some sort of secret the rest of us are keeping from you, I could. But it wouldn’t be true. Just make your comics, and put them out into the world.