A big caveat for anyone aspiring to turn their passion for art into a career. You're going to meet horrible people. You'll also meet great people who, in my opinion, help balance things out, but you should be mentally prepared for the negative colleagues that you will encounter.
When I first started getting involved with the “comic convention scene” in the late 90’s, things were very different. Conventions were big if they filled one auditorium at a convention centre. An artist could get a table and sell thier work for less than $50. And overall, there seemed to be a lot more positivity and cooperation among peers.
It felt like comic book folks could just hang out and share ideas and just have fun drawing and making comics together. It seems now like a golden age where you could approach a peer with a collaberative idea and they’d say “yeah, that sounds awesome, let’s do it.”
Let’s assume that my memories are at least a little coloured by the naivety of youth, as I was not quite in my 20s at the time.
In my 20ish years in comics and entertainment, I’ve had the privilege of meeting some hilarious, personable and supportive colleagues and professionals. I’ve become friendly acquaintances with a number of known figures whose work I enjoyed when I was growing up, never expecting I’d get to meet, even work with them some day. Some truly wonderful experiences.
I also have met some people who were absolutely horrid.
One person I met at my first convention, who now works for a major publisher, eventually became my cyber bully for a period. To this day he’ll still show up out of the blue to bully and berate some of the same crew that we were part of (Toronto area comic creators riding artist’s alley) for their opinions on Facebook. This guy really hated me. To this day I don’t know why or how I managed to get his attention or set him off.
Considering I was 17 when I started working professionally and doing cons, I made a lot of mistakes. In my career I’ve made a lot of dumb, immature, misguided mistakes and had a lot of expensive lessons. If fulling will g to own thosethings and the repercussions, which I fully intend to blog about n the future. Maybe I could have avoided some of these things if I’d had an industry mentor, but growing up in rural Canada sort of limits your access to professional comics mentors.
Anyway, this guy got involved in online hate threads (based on false claims) about a business I owned at the time. He essentially led a charge to virtually lynch me. He even recruited his friends and followers, random message board people and, most painfully, some of my own friends who believed the claims made about me without ever thinking to ask me about it.
Though I’m essentially fine with it now, it was very upsetting at the time at has left me with some PTSD-type symptoms, some of which I still struggle with to this day.
I sincerely hope that you never have to deal with this kind of situation and I like to think most comic artists never will. One of the reasons I got into teaching was to use my experiences to help other new artists avoid making the same mistakes and having to learn the same expensive lessons that I did.
Just like any other industry, comics is full of a wide variety of extreme personalities and off-the-wall opinions.
It’s innevitable, no matter what you do, no matter what your job, you’ll have peers that don’t like you, for whatever reason. Don’t let it get to you, but don’t be afraid to seek help if you feel harassed orthreatened.
It’s unfortunate that we even need this disclaimer, but that’s the world we live in.
Why do some people behave this way? Do they see other artists as a threat? I don’t know and I’m not a psychologist, so I can’t answer that question.
What I can say is that you don’t have to let the flaws of others affect your happiness. Keep your head down keep working. Don’t worry about trying to please the haters, focus on family, friends, fans and other supporters of what you do.
Also I made some art:
Thanks for reading,