Don't Be Limited by What Others Have Done Before

Tutorial / 11 November 2020

One of the lessons that I try to drive home in all of my writing classes, is the will to risk. Risk doing something different. Risk changing the status quo of your writing. You never know what is going to be successful and absorbed into the genre or fandom. 

The easiest example I can make of this is modern film and fiction depicting vampires or werewolves. What most of us think we know as standard facts about werewolf or vampire mythology was actually created by the movie industry in the last 100 years and were never part of the original myths and legends. Death by sunlight? Made up by movies. Must sleep during the day? Made up by movies. There's actually a much better and great explanation of this concept by Simon Pegg by way of Max Landis, which used to be on youtube that I would have dropped right here, but it seems impossible to find now. If anyone knows what I'm talking about and has a link, send it my way. 

The gist of Pegg's advice video is this: Don't be afraid to create your own rules for fictional characters and don't be constrained by rules created by other writers. Want your vampires to sparkle? Not sure why, but why not? Want your vampires to prefer their hemoglobin mixed with bourbon? sure. Want a werewolf who transforms at the sight of a cat and fears rolled up newspapers? why not? Vampires and werewolves don't exist, so why be held to account by the rules another writer made up 50 years ago? Don't be afraid to make your mark and be different. It may catch on. 

In a similar spirit, I've been thinking about comics lately. 

I got into comics because I wanted to make art and tell stories and the sequential form really resonated with me. I loved comics. Spent my life learning to make them and eventually became a working member of the industry. 

This is a moment where sayings like "Be careful what you wish for" or "Don't ruin your passion by making it a job." come to mind. 

I still love comics and sequential narratives and storytelling, but the industry scene is a hot pile of garbage right now. 

Never in the history of comics, as I've known, have the different segments of the industry and fan base been so at each other's throats. Fans hate the distributors. Distributors hate the retailers. Retailers hate the publishers. Publishers hate the fans, and no comic themed conversation can be had online without it devolving into childish know-it-all-ism and name calling. 

DC Comics literally can't do anything without the entirety of the internet screaming in disgust, whether what they are doing is really that big a deal and even worthy of attention or not. 

I have lost all desire to work in mainstream comics and don't read them any more. I don't think any of those publishers really give a shit about their existing fanbase or making good comics. Pretty sure they don't give a shit about my demographic by the junk being put out. 

It's a hot mess with no security and at the end of the day, it's very uncertain whether you'll be paid for your work from ANY publisher right now.

So why wade into this sewer and try to get everyone to play nice? 

I just want to tell stories. I want to share them with people. I want to make art that makes you think and discuss it intelligently with readers.

I don't need mainstream, or even comic book publishers to do that. I'm fully capable of producing my own comic, but in the uncertain economic times that are 2020, why put out the extra expense and headache? I think I'll be shying away and strictly limiting any print self-publishing that I do from here on out. Digital publishing is way less headache for a small business or individual artist and since there are way more options and possibilities with digital delivery, why not explore them?

At the end of the day I'm happy to take my own ideas and skills and make my own kinetic novel, visual novel, motion comic, video game or any other creative work featuring my own characters on my own terms and share them with supporters on my own website. 

If word-of-mouth can't grow my audience, then I need to go back and look at my work. I prefer my work to speak for itself, so if something I'm doing isn't resonating, I need to go back and review my approach and no amount of money spent on Facebook or Instagram ads will change that. 

Don't get sucked in by those social media platforms or by "mainstream logic" that says you have to slave away for a corporate giant while being underpaid and disrespected. Make your own way and your own mark.

 Make your own rules. Comics are supposed to be fun after all. 

That's my rant for today, and also, here's some art:


Thanks for reading,

Mike