Why I Didn't Become a Comic Book Artist

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RoboMommy's avatar
WIN 20170511 13 50 39 Pro by RoboMommy

I'm writing this entry because I was asked the question here on DA and outside of it - and it was mostly people who know I studied comic book art at the International School of Comics (Rome) from 2005 to 2008.

To put it bluntly, doing comics requires more mental and physical energy than I can realistically give. That is a fact, and a limit I had to accept.

It was painful to let that dream go... but it was clear already in school: one teacher told me (in a harsh tone) that if 90% of the time my health issues make it impossible to stick to deadlines, I can't work for comic publishers. Period. There are no buts nor maybes, because deadlines in comics are hardly extendable, and they can throw off the whole editorial calendar.

The whole thing hit me hard and I hated myself for that... and dealt with a depression that lasted for months - and the aftermath of it, for years - but at least I realized and accepted my limits, and I also realized not being able to work with publishers doesn't mean I should stop drawing or making comics - I will just take up art commissions on flexible deadlines and draw my own comics.

Even as a freelance writer I only take up clients who can work flexible deadlines and understand/respect my condition, and I recently wrote a blog post about being a freelance writer with sensory and emotional overload issues to share my experience and a few hacks that work for me.

The same hacks apply to the art commissions and business cartoons I provide.

So now I do my own comic books for Rolamaton, Planet Electronia and The Berter Family stories. Or random one-page comics sometimes. Or 5-page comics for my fellow freelance writers.

And yes, I take ages, even years, to get stuff done. My stuff isn't perfect either: my brain can deal with only so many details and variables at a time. But it's okay: nobody's suffering from it (just me sometimes, because I wish I could get them done sooner!).

I'm also happy to take comic page commissions. Small comics, a few pages long. I know I can't afford more.

But at the end of the day, really, the publishing world isn't the only option out there. I can still be a good artist and writer within all of my limits.

Thanks for reading. :hug:

P.S. Huge thanks to Kagehahen, pika, Ampliflier, PrincessofDreams123 and other wonderful friends met here on DA for your continued support. You lift my spirits all the time and I love you more for it :heart:
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RoboMommy's avatar
Awww :huggle: :heart:

Thank you, dear!
PrincessofDreams123's avatar
You're welcome. :)  Hugs are the best!

I kinda know the feeling.  I wanted to be an author at one point, but writing is more of a hobby for me now.  My anxiety does not do well in hyper competitive environments, like publishing or business, so it wouldn't work out.  I'm also just not that competitive a person by nature.  I might still try to write a children's book someday, but it won't be my main career.
RoboMommy's avatar
Publishing your own illustrated books is a great idea! :hug: You can also create your own community of fans around your works, and slowly build "marketing platform" around your website devoted to your writing. There are plenty of options these days with self-publishing and blogging, so you don't have to involve yourself with the publishing business at all, nor with national writing contests (anxiety doesn't work well with those, I know it). The only professional figure you might want to work with in the future is a friendly freelance editor who will help you review the manuscript and give you precious advice.

Good luck with everything in your life, dear! <3
PrincessofDreams123's avatar
Thanks for the advice and good wishes. :hug:

I think I want to be a teacher as my main career
RoboMommy's avatar
Teaching is awesome :heart:

And you're welcome! :hug:
Redgully's avatar
The optimist part of me want to tell you not to give up, that limits are meant to be broken and so forth - But I understand that there's a difference between looking at things realistically and say that "no, this is not for me" and giving up a long lived dream. Like you say there's also zero reason for you to stop drawing comics,  with the internet at hand I believe all independent creators have a chance to get their works noticed and adored - as an independent it's also your stories and not the publishers flavor of the week that gets told, so that's a plus!

Very cool to learn that you studied at a comic school, don't know anyone else that have done that! Also feel with you over the hypothyroidism, got the same thing and it's friggin' awful, without medication it can absolutely wreck you as a human that's for sure.      
Best of wishes to you in all your creative endeavours~
RoboMommy's avatar
I can tell you I pondered that decision for a long time (years) exactly because it involved a childhood dream, one I didn't want to give up, but I couldn't destroy my life and health for it either - and I realized it wasn't necessary anyway. I'm glad I didn't give up entirely, because the first impulse (under depression) was to write art out of my life... It would have been a kind of 'soul suicide', I think. I'm glad I pushed those thoughts away after all.

Yes, the Internet is such a great opportunity for all of us! :) One of my admired people in the business writing field, for example, is a tetraplegic, brilliant guy who built his own business from home thanks to the Web - and he's one everybody looks up to.

The comic school was a big investment, but one that's still paying off. I learned a lot and I mastered many skills (still plenty to learn, though! I'm not even one of those super talented artists, hahah). I've been under medication for hypothyroidism since primary school, then doctors found out I also have PCOS and, since 2015, PSAS (a rare condition with currently no existing diagnosis nor cure, only isolated clinical cases). I try to live as best as I can day by day. :) Are you on medication for your thyroid? I should probably get mine upped to a higher dosage, since 100 mg seems to no longer be sufficient and it might be adding to the other problems.

Thank you for commenting on this one, dear :hug:
Redgully's avatar
It's very understandable, one can only sacrifice so much before the dream turns into a nightmare. I'm happy that you've got out of the "limbo", the time before making a very difficult decision is always filled with too much worries. And a big thumbs up for not letting depression trick you out of doing something that fulfills you!

That's really cool! Goes to show that a strong will gets you far.

Haha I don't think you can trust any artist that with confidence says: I have nothing left to learn - there's always more to learn/improve on when it comes to art, it got endless potential.

Gosh so your thyroid was already acting up when you were that young? I think I got diagnosed when I was 18 so my childhood was spared from it's awfulness.
Ah I've heard of PCOS before but not PSAS, coupled with the thyroid I gotta say that it's a heavy bunch of medical conditions you have hanging over your shoulder at all times, I think you're damn strong for staying positive!Hug We live in exciting times so with a bit of luck more medical breakthroughs will be made, I know I would love a instant cure for the thyroid.

Yup I'm on medication, took me years to get my levels sorted out. I'm on 75 mg at the moment, haven't been to the doctor in a good while though so I might need to up mine as well. You should definitely up yours if you feel like it's needed, don't let that thyroid rob you off any energy!Hug      

And hey no problem, you're such a kind person, always take care!Heart          
Ampliflier's avatar
Aww your very welcome too. That teacher was very wrong to say that to you. :hug:
RoboMommy's avatar

I think he was right, after all - but yeah, he could have used a bit of tact! His words literally threw me into a deep depression.
Ampliflier's avatar
Keep your spirit up.:)
Kagehahen's avatar
That's just the way for some people - we all have limitations we have to work around.  That doesn't make us any less talented or change how much work we put into what we're passionate about.  There's something to be said about the spirit of a person that keeps doing what they love regardless.  That might not mean a lot to people who lack those sort of obstacles, but to those that have them it's everything.  And we who live with them and love them do the best we can to help them along the way (my son has his obvious limitations and he'll be with me for the rest of my life, but what he does working around them is astounding). When he explains why this or why that as he feels he must explain, I accept them and he exhibits gratitude and continues on.  He's come to accept - at his tender age - the reality of himself which - I never expected. Doesn't mean he always accepts that line in the sand and when it hurts him, I understand why and try to help him through it.  I helps me get yours and everyone else around me -  a lot more tolerance. That's a good thing - we should all be that a little more.

And screw commission dead lines.  I order a hell of a lot of commissions and they're stupid. Ask me to write a regulation with a dead line - you CAN because that's just the compilation of data.  I did it all the time - same with a plane or a car (done those too).  Tell me I have a dead line to write a story - yeah - not happening.  Characters have their own agendas and time constraints usually - not one of them...
RoboMommy's avatar
I think when I life throws obstacles at you all the time, you become stronger for it, more resilient. And your son is an amazing, tough and brave young person, my friend. :aww:

Deadlines might be different for those who face daily health issues, but as long as there's mutual understanding from both sides (artist and commissioner), things can get done. Ah, stories are entirely another matter, though... you can submit a story and only then realize you missed something because a character only revealed it to you after you finished! Ah, characters...
pika's avatar
:hug: Yeah, I know how it is with deadlines, ANY deadline. And arting is tedious, time consuming and stressful to body (ergonomics, is your hand capable without breaking to pour out thousands and thousands of lines), and then the mental pressure over all the questions running through one's mind. I keep constantly asking myself "Am I good enough? Is this good enough?", and then the feedback of "this needs to be changed" ect. :fear: Same with commissions even only as a hobby. UGU!

But for example this comic project I'm in now. I'm taking my time and I have references and written dialogue with descriptive text. If the project leader wants something else they sure can express their concerns for it, but mainly it's been me nagging "hey, this is better like this instead" and he's okay with it. XDDDD

So yeah, it's good that you've found stuff to do within your own limits instead of the real industrial business that burns through artist to the left and right! (I'm still kinda jealous that you got to study comic book arting! D: )
RoboMommy's avatar
*huggles back* :huggle: Goodness, sometimes I lose sight of the art or writing itself and all I can think is "I'm on deadline! I must hurry! Rush rush rush". It gets crazy. And all the "I'm not good enough" ones too, of course.

I think the project leader is immensely lucky to have you for the artist, my friend. :D You pour a lot of work into those masterpieces, so how can he not be okay with what you do? XD (Seriously, though, you know your craft)

Thank you so much, sweetie. :hug: The comics industry is not for me and I'm only a little sad it took me so long to realize I'm not less of an artist because of it.

(Aww <3 When my friend returns the comic school notebooks to me, I'll scan them in and send you some :aww: Promised (and remind me if I forget))
pika's avatar
Many of us think (me included) that if we get negative feedback we'll never be good at it. Arting is the ONLY area I am confident enough to 'fight back' the negativity, and instead of giving up I take it as a boost to get better. But it hasn't been an easy trip but it helped me a lot that I drew only for myself and random gifts to friends. :)

The project leader better be extremely happy with me! But I did mention to him that I have no idea how my life will be after this lil darling pops out of me. So I warned them that they might want to search for a new artist soon. x'D On that note, I've never been in any sort of industry when it comes to arting. All of my knowledge comes from my friends who shares their experience in good and bad when it comes to it; backgrounds, modeling, character designs, deadlines, overall project yays or nays... D: It sounds so scary!

(I appreciate that! Just don't stress yourself over the notes, okay? :D )
RoboMommy's avatar
Yeah, taking criticism constructively is an art, I think. It takes effort and a long time to grow a ticker skin. :D All I can say is your determination and self-improvement efforts as an artist show in your works, and that's part of what makes them so beautiful. <3

Oh dear, project + newborn might be just a liiiiittle beyond human capability? XD LOL Well, the experience and expertise from fellow artist is all the mentoring we need, I guess - comic/art schools are just a formalization of that, with expert artists teaching newbies in a school-like environment. But that's it. I know for sure once you start doing art commissions, you're in the art business. (Yeah, it can get scary)

(I'll see that friend the next week, so we'll see XD No stress, but I'm going to stress my scanner, that's for sure :P)
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