A lot of people work as assistants and ghosts on projects, and there is nothing wrong with that. I’ve done that a lot, too.

But some people conflate their resume or fudge their credits in such a way that it makes them appear as if they have connections or credits they just don’t have.

For example, I ghosted color work for Lynn Johnston on her “For Better or for Worse” limited edition prints. Here’s a sample. Just in time for Christmas.

For-Better-Or-For-Worse-1

This was done in watercolor over a print of the comic art on watercolor paper. This is one of only about 2 times in my whole career I ever colored someone else’s art.

I do not list King Features Syndicate (or whoever Johnston’s syndicate was, I can’t recall,) as the client. That would not be honest. The Syndicate didn’t hire me.

However, I am running in to more and more people who would happily put King Features Syndicate right there on their resume.

When I go looking for people to hire, I check out resumes. I track down credits.

These past two weeks, I’ve run into two people who list major clients on their resumes who do not have credits with those clients. They worked as assistants or ghosts for third parties.

In some cases, these people worked as hires for licensors who had contracts with Marvel, but they were never hired by Marvel as comics artists. They worked as one of hundreds of artists on a game or marketing project, but they list Marvel Comics as a credit. Or they worked in a studio and list the studio credit as their own. If I did a trading card picture of the Hulk for Topps, Marvel is not my client, Topps is my client.

I had a packager come to me to ask me about a potential hire, but after tracking down his Marvel and DC comics credits, which are prominently listed as clients, we only found one actual credit dating back more than 20 years. Only one. The packager was stunned, because this person had a large booth at a major comics convention. I had to explain to the packager that booth size and actual credit is sometimes inversely proportional.

I realize a lot of people won’t follow up on this sort of thing, but I will. And I have been burned (and recently) by hires who conflate their credits to get jobs, and then flounder and behave very badly when hired. So I look for track records and I ask around.

I even had someone who did minor research for me (about $50 worth) try to get me to agree to let them list blog posts they had written about my work as an editing and writing credit hire on my part. I told them I could not agree to let them do this.

I have no idea if they followed through. But I do recall they got kind of pissed that I would not agree to let them lie about work they had not done for me. This was taken as an indication that I did not want to help advance their career.

Now, I know a select handful of people who managed to pad their resumes and then pull through and have great success in the end. They built careers on bluster, but they had chops under the bluster.

Sometimes bluster works.

Most of the time, it doesn’t.

Conflating your credits is unlikely to get you a gig, except with people who really don’t look very hard. And if you can’t live up to your hype, it’s not hard to find other people when you don’t do what you were hired to do. Or you turn out to be hard to work with.

Just thought I’d put that out there.