In our last episode, I had succeeded in getting my first professional work drawing comics.
From the get go, nothing went right, and I was prone to externalising it as the other guy’s fault. Well, 20 years on, I have a better perspective. Not to say that the other guy was perfect. He wasn’t. But one of the reasons to write these posts is to be honest about how things went and how I acted.
Download The Eradicators 4 PDF. You’ll enjoy it more if you read the blog post first.
I was unprepared for the demands – emotional and physical – that producing a full comic while holding down a full-time day job required. I’ve never been that fast a drawist and was even slower while I was struggling to learn the craft while producing the work. Add to that having never worked with a writer before and having to learn his characters and storyline while meeting a deadline, and it was all a little much. It meant that virtually every hour I wasn’t at the day job or sleeping (and not much of that), I was tied to the drafting board.
I know now that’s just the way it is, but back then it was a very rude awakening. I had just sunk in the deep end and was arrogant enough to say, “Hey, what’s with all the water?” I was immature and unprofessional.
I could talk about the low pay, around $20 a page if I recall correctly. “These are easy pages to draw, only one or two panels and a few splashes. They should go quickly.” I had made my bed and tried to honour the commitment. I will say I may have been extremely stupid to sign a 16-issue contract, but who in their right mind signs the untried kid I was back then to a 16-issue contract? I think it’s safe to say that some not good decision making was happening on both sides.
Not getting my cover art back bothered me. “Haha, oh no, I’m keeping those. These are great,” I learned during one of the time-consuming long distance calls on my dime eating away at any money I was making as I heard about company plans and how good things were going to be. I didn’t know how to stand up for myself then, and so I lost the cover art and listened patiently while the phone bill went up.
The lettering. The Chicago and New York typefaces on an early Mac printed off on an ImageWriter and then pasted, badly, on the art. Lettering was the one thing I did not half bad, but they wanted all the books ‘consistent’. It was hideous then. It’s even more hideous now.
Once again, though, this is not about how I was treated. These ‘problems’ were my problems. I had created them by not knowing how to conduct myself in business. Since then, I’ve been presented with lots of situations like this one, and after you shaft yourself on that first one, you tend to not let it happen again.
But it ate at me. I wanted better without having earned better, complaining about everything. By the middle of this second issue, I’d had enough. I blamed what the other guy was doing, conveniently ignoring my own failings.
It wasn’t so much that I folded, but collapsed inward upon myself. It was a terrible blow to my ego that I hid behind anger and bluster. Couldn’t I cut it? So at the end of the issue, I sent a letter or made a call and reneged on the contract. Silver was understandably upset, but he let it go.
I used to think that tearing up and returning the two cheques I got for my two issues was a responsible thing to do. The least I could do given that I had gone back on my word. Saving my honour.
What a load of crap. It was my way of absolving myself of responsibility for my actions. Pushing it all away so I didn’t have to deal with the situation meaningfully and truly learn from my errors in a timely fashion.
Failing to understand that, it was something that would come back again and do more damage.
The tonal work in this issue was done with greyscale design markers (squeep squeep squeep, hee hee, I’m getting high). The same friend who helped me with the zips last issue worked on this one as well. Drawing pretty much the same. Love that dislocated arm and twisted hand on the guy in the foreground on the cover. And where are the Inuit’s legs in that figure on the right? Scans off the comic.
Convention season was coming up, and I’d make my last trip to San Diego, armed with freshly-published work. Woo hoo. I was published. I’d come away with a new assignment.
Up next : “Love is Not An Alien Thing,” a short story for Malibu Graphics.