DO THE MATH
Maybe it's because my pal Steven Grant mentioned the ol' True Facts collection in his latest column, or maybe we're cracking through to more folks' perception, or maybe it's just the way the planets have aligned lately… I dunno. But it seems like my publishing house has been getting a whole lot more submissions than usual.
This is odd to me, because, you know, we don't much make a secret of the fact that we don't accept submissions.
It's not that I don't have a lot of sympathy for people with a dream to produce comics. It's not that your query email wasn't politely phrased. It's not that your comic book isn't the best thing I've ever read.
It's that we don't accept submissions.
Now, most folks understand this. "Thanks for the prompt reply," some say. "Can't blame a gal for trying," another will add. These people are human beings.
Then there are those subhumans who feel the need to vent their anger at me, at the injustice of the world in general and of me in particular, because I won't publish their obviously brilliant twelve page dissection of Kant's philosophical writings, illustrated by the writer's fourth grade brother.
"Do it yourself," I say.
"Sputter, belly-ache, excuses, whine," they usually say. The words are always different, but the meaning is the same.
So, after receiving a very interesting ream of correspondence from one such earnest soul, this topic was very much on my mind as I rode my faithful Yamaha Riva 200 over to my good friend Kieron Dwyer's house for lunch. Kieron is the new artist on Avengers, although he may be better known as the guy at whom Starbucks decided to throw its corporate might.
Kieron and I have been pals for a few years, now, and he's seen my meteoric rise in the comics world from humble Internet presence to the Fifth Premier Vendor. In fact, the K-Dog supplied a mighty two-pager for my first miniseries to lend his fine talent and reputation to our fledgling enterprise, and was even further not-embarrassed to do flip covers for my second miniseries.
Point is, Kieron has seen all of the trauma and vindication of putting out comics first-hand. Heck, he even dips his toes into self-publishing every once in a while, himself. He knows what happened to me when I was shopping around the first Astronauts in Trouble: I put together a five-page graphics-heavy teaser in order to get across the tone of the story I wanted to tell. I think it's not bad, really, considering there's only one piece of actual art in all of the five pages...
Many of the folks I sent the proposal to were very encouraging, including Jim Valentino, Bob Schreck, and Phil Amara. Many, though, basically said, "Look around; I don't know if you've noticed, but the comic book industry is in the crapper. Established veterans can't get gigs; why do you think we would publish your little astronaut confection?"
Mike Carlin of DC, bless his decrepit heart, finally came out and said, "You know, you'd be better off putting out this project yourself, than trying to get one of the big publishers to do it. The fact is, there's just nothing to put between your first and last names."
"What d'you mean, Mike?" I asked.
"You're an unproven talent in the marketplace," he said. "We'd have better luck selling your next project, when we can say 'Larry Astronauts in Trouble Young' in the advance solicitations. Go the Kevin Smith route; the Robert Rodriguez route, and do it yourself."
So, I did.
At lunch, I filled in Kieron on this latest batch of email I was subjected to. It seems a self-evident matter (admittedly now, in retrospect), when, in the course of human events, that if one desires to steer one's life in a certain direction, then, honestly, the only impediment to the course is one's own self.
If you follow.
I asked Kieron what it was that made him finally realize that he'd start a career as a professional artist, and I got an interesting response from my friend.
It seems ol' Kieron, while always avidly drawing, had seriously considered a career in acting, as a youth. Both of his parents were actors, and he'd been exposed to "the business" his whole life. Even more importantly, he lived in Los Angeles. This was no idle pipe dream from a kid in rural Montana; he could actually make this happen. He'd gone so far as to have 8x10 head shots ("Air-brushed, even," Kieron said, around the diner's counter. "Somewhere there is a picture of me as a flawless Kieron Robot.") produced, in order to send to casting directors and whatnot.
At one point, Kieron had what the New Agers would call "an epiphany," and what us normal folks just call "Knowing what time it is without looking at the clock." He realized that the odds of him becoming a successful actor (like, say, his classmate from school in Chicago, John Cusack) were lottery-slim, but a career utilizing his talents as an artist in comics had, at the very least, less competition. One hears about out-of-work actors far more than out-of-work artists, after all.
"I just did the simple math," Kieron said. "In comics, I'd be a little fish in a big pond, sure. But I can hit deadlines. At least I'd be a fish. In acting, I'd be… plankton."
I told him I understood; that the time comes when you realize that if you really want to do something, you just have to get out of your own way and do it. "But what should I tell these folks who email me, expecting me to do all the hard work for them?" I said to Kieron.
"Tell them to be fish," he said.
So, I'm walkin' out of the Boylston Street T stop on Saturday after spending the morning having discovered and diving into your writings and I'm thinking about your stuff, and I look up, and there's yer email@example.com
Useful tools if you want to actually produce that comic you've been threatening me with:
While you can get your news and commentary about the funny books all over the damn Internet, I usually make it a point to let slip at least one bit of information at theLoose Cannon Message Board that I post nowhere else.