Your Future in Comics

As a Comic Artist you’ll commit a staggering amount of time, energy and dedication to harnessing your skills. It doesn’t matter if that means becoming a recluse, living on a below minimum wage, or being seen as downright unrealistic by our family, friends and colleagues – drawing Comics is in our blood.

Most of us have it already figured that, in the real world, there’s little chance we’ll ever be able to earn a decent living from our art work alone. Much less pay off a mortgage or raise a family. Besides, if we even managed to get to that point, we’d be stuck working our butts off for an almost insulting paycheck.

So we do it for the love don’t we? At least that’s what we’re told by the handful of potential clients who see something they like and decide to approach us with – "Yeah, we know the pay is low, but it’s about the passion not the price, right?"…

It all seems a little bleak doesn’t it? We've all asked ourselves – “If I invest all this time into learning how to draw comics, will it even be worth it in the end? Are the naysayers justified in telling me that what I’m doing is going to lead nowhere?”

This is a pessimistic and self defeating mindset to indulge in. But sometimes it’s hard not to let it creep in and play on our mind and motivation. Here you are, stepping outside the mold set by those around you, as they go about their seemingly ‘normal’ and content lives - and you feel like they see you as being absolutely nuts! It's no wonder we find it so damn hard not to let those doubts rise up and threaten our motivation to keep on going.

Here’s the truth though…

Every innovator, whether it be the likes of Todd McFarlane, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Steve Jobs, had the same foreboding fear, doubt and worry when they set out to make their vision a reality. In fact, some of the most famous success stories out there, especially those we look up to in the Comic Art world, began with nothing but an unconditional love for their craft and a stubborn determination to succeed beyond all else.

Todd McFarlane started out working at a Comic Book Store, sending hundreds of art samples to various Comic Book Companies from the little trailer he was sharing with his then girlfriend, Wanda... Todd was rejected hundreds of times, with only half of his 700 submissions actually receiving a reply. But instead of seeing it as failure, he analysed the critiques he got inside those rejection letters and applied every morsel of advice he could use to improve.

Eventually he got the call from Marvel Comics and DC…

And even after scoring his own Spider-Man title (which became an overnight success) - that still wasn’t enough for Todd. So he took one of the greatest gambles he could have, at the height of his career, and left Marvel to form his own Independent Comic book company... with no guarantees it would work. Image Comics is still the largest independent Comic Book company in existence to date… His story isn’t unique either - almost every well known Comic Book artist did their dues and worked hard to break into the industry. Having yet to learn English, a young Jim Lee grew up as an outsider in the U.S., destined for a career in medicine, as he followed in the footsteps of his father. But after completing his degree in psychology, Jim's passion for drawing Comics was reignited by an art class he'd taken. This caused Jim to postpone Medical School altogether, with his parents reluctant blessing, and allow himself a single year to break into the Comic Book Industry. Jim Lee was also rejected many times until, through his persistence, he went to a Comic convention showed his portfolio to the editors in person - later being invited to Marvel to work on his first assignment 'Alpha Flight'.

Now… this article isn’t just here to inspire you. I'm about to tell you exactly why now is the best time to dedicate every waking moment you've got to developing your skills as a Comic Artist... But we need to make a shift in our mindset first. Because mindset is ultimately the key factor in creating success.

Sometimes my students are discouraged by the assumption that there’s a lack of opportunity out there for artists. As a result, they try to practice and develop their skills for a while, but eventually lose the motivation to keep on pushing forward… Without a real reason to pursue their passion, it simply fades away.

This is often because of the social pressures put on them to take a 'realistic' career path in life. The problem with this is, society has only just begun transitioning into a culture consumed by Entertainment!

A few decades ago the Entertainment Industry was nowhere near the size it is today. Video games consisted of text and 8-bit pixels on the small screen of a giant box. The amount of 3D effects used in movies and television was bar none, simply because computers weren’t endowed with enough processing power to pull off today’s jaw dropping special effects. Mobile Phones didn't even exist yet, let alone the ability to play apps, watch film, serf the internet and read entire libraries of digital books from the palm of your hand. As for Comics? Well, they’ve evolved somewhat, but in general they’ve remained fairly consistent in terms of how they’re produced and consumed.

In fact, long before the cutting edge tech seen in today's forms of entertainment – people still entertained themselves with Comic Books! And things such as board games, card games, Dungeons and Dragons, and pillow forts.

Fast forward to 2016 and what’s changed? In short, a heck of a lot!

Now we’ve got blockbuster movies created with eye boggling 3D visuals that are so life-like, it’s hard to tell what’s real footage and what’s not half the time. Video Games now reside in the uncanny valley too, where players are able to navigate throughout immersive worlds full of life without suspending their disbelief for a moment. They’re able to have interactions within the game world that are so life like now, that building relationships and connecting emotionally with virtual characters has become a given in gaming…