One of the hazards of the freelancer life is sitting down a lot and eating too much while you’re working. Yet every time I say I need to watch what I eat and get more exercise, someone pipes up to announce that deprivation is bad, and I should just treat myself!
That gets on my nerves. If you treat yourself every time someone tells you to treat yourself, you’ll dig your own grave with a fork.
People in our field are often unfit, and tend to die young. It’s a high stress profession, and a very unhealthy lifestyle. I realize not everyone has a choice about fitness, but I do. And I choose fitness.
Real deprivation is not having enough to eat, not saying no to a cookie when you can have whatever you want.
I want to be healthy so I can have energy, focus, a strong back to offset hours at the drawing board, and a long, productive life.
Taking care of yourself isn’t a beauty contest, and it’s not about deprivation. It’s about health.
So, I was talking with one of my peeps about a creator whose work I really don’t like, and whose sales are less than 10% what they once were.
His comment about their work was that it has not grown or changed, and that the style is the same as it always was. And that’s why their appeal has tanked.
I don’t even like this person’s work, but I don’t think a critique of the standardization of the style of the work was a fair criticism.
The few times I’ve looked at it over the years shows the creator has not grown as an artist in terms of maturity of content, draughtsmanship basics, or storytelling technique: in fact, they’ve gotten worse. I guess this applies to a lot of creators. Comics can be grueling.
I’ve read their protests that they have grown so much as an artist they lost an audience that simply can’t keep up with their growth and new ideas, but from what I see, there’s nothing new in their work at all.
Computer coloring, for example, does not change the content or markedly change the fundamentals of your drawing style.
It makes sense to me that the style itself should remain consistent, because it is one project. And they are the main creator.
I don’t look at “Peanuts” and complain the style didn’t grow. I don’t look at “Prince Valiant” and wonder why Hal Foster didn’t explore cubism. And I see absolutely nothing wrong with this artist sticking to a homogenous look for a long term project.
Whenever they do make an effort to try something else, they smother it with their signature look. That’s unfortunate. It really doesn’t translate to other works.
But on their flagship project? Fair play to them. It would be very jarring to read a project over a long time only to see the art style waver all over the place. It would be as annoying as, say, watching a TV show swap out its look each new season. Only the actors don’t change, they just wear the masks of other people’s faces.
I don’t think the sales have tanked because the work has not improved. I think the sales have tanked because there is more competition in the marketplace than there used to be. I don’t think, if their work were first published today, it would do very well.
I try to keep the style in A DISTANT SOIL consistent, and the few times I’ve varied from that I’ve regretted it. This is one story that takes place over just a few months but took years to draw. If you sit down to read it all at once and see wide variances in style, it’s jarring.
When I do other projects, I vary my style. Sometimes so much, people don’t even recognize my work. I don’t know if other artists are quite as willing to do this.
But I don’t think it’s a fair criticism to say that a single creator’s work, with a consistent look, is an artistic failure for maintaining stylistic consistency. Even if I don’t like their work.
I think it’s fair play to critique other artist’s work, but for long form projects, slamming a consistent style is not a valid criticism.
Spending thirty years as an artist while still not being able to draw a decent kneecap is a valid criticism.
This will be good news for those of you waiting on commissions, bad news for those of you who want one.
I’m getting down to the task of organizing and archiving my original art, and the realization that several commissions have been put on the back burner so long I actually lost a major piece somewhere in here has finally made me face the music: I will not be able to accept any private commissions in 2015.
I have several major pieces on my plate, and they are all running late. One of them I even started at the wrong size, and have to begin again. When I make these kinds of mistakes, it means I’m over my head and need to cut back. I tallied what I have left to do, went kind of pale and realized catching up, together with my current tight work schedule for my publishers (all five of them,) eats up all of next year.
I will be doing several conventions next year but will not take any commissions at shows. All work I will be doing at shows will be work that is already scheduled.
I’m really sorry, I know some of you were hoping to get an original piece from me, but I won’t be able to until 2016.
I will be able to sell art at shows, and sketches from my collection will be available. I will make original art available by mail order again in the spring. I’ll also be able to sell some books. But right now…I’m not exactly in trouble, but could get there if I’m not careful.
Anyway, as you all know, my commissions are worth waiting for. And as I complete them I will post them here.
There will also be some major announcements about my current publishing work as I near completion. Until then, I am going to continue to try to be careful about my time management and be good about saying “no”.
This is one of those things that comes up every so often, so I’ll just call it out.
Every time there’s a scandal in fandom or in this business, someone starts yelping that if YOU are not discussing it, tweeting it, etc, you are an enabler, because YOU DON’T CARE about Bad Thing.
I’m not really sure if you guys get just how many of us aren’t reading the blogs every day. Or, when we scroll down our feed, that may be the only 10 minutes that day we see the news.
For my part, I’ve got a really heavy schedule for the next five months and am looking at 10 hour days and more, so I’m not doing a lot of blogging. I’ll come in here for a nice chat, or I’ll pop a pic on twitter, and then I’m off to, you know, work. Spend time with my family.
And like every family, ours has things going on that are pretty important. I just don’t post about them.
I was annoyed to see some guy raging about how these AWFUL pros were covering up for Pro Who Did Bad Thing, because we’re all trying to cover up for this professional powerhouse. The creative powerhouse has done maybe 10 comics in his life: I’ve never met him, and never heard of him before, I dunno, a few weeks ago, and I could not care less about this guy. I’m not talking about his misdeeds because I do not have anything pertinent to say. He means nothing to me. Not talking about him is not covering up: it means he’s not on my radar.
I didn’t even find out about the damned thing until the issue had already been dealt with.
I realize there are people out there who think the whole comics industry is one big Sekrit Cabal, and we sit around and rub our hands, and cover up for each other when things go bad. But for the most part, we don’t know each other, or are the barest of acquaintances, and frankly could not give a shit about saving the hash of some dude with ten credits.
I’m sure Meryl Streep doesn’t rush to twitter to comment on what she thinks of, I dunno, every kid from Different Strokes who robs a gas station.
For crying out loud, how many of these goofballs will stand up and sneer about a comic creator with 250 credits, but “Hey, never heard of that guy! Who does he think he is?” when he or she says something they don’t like that they finally notice?
But they expect you to know about whatever Bad Thing happened that was on the top of the news feed of a blog for 24 hours. It’s ridiculous. I never hear of 10% of this shit, how do you think I get so much work done? Reading blogs? Hell, no.
C’mon people, be realistic.
Putting things off? Rushing to finish at the last minute?
Procrastination isn’t about laziness, it’s a coping mechanism. Procrastinators tend to be perfectionists and less forgiving of their own flaws.