I’ve been working in comics for several decades now. I’ve inked over 55 books over many different pencil artists. I’ve published my own books, which I’ve written, drawn and Kickstarted. I’ve had some accomplishents over the years. My style has grown and evolved, and I think I’ve gotten much better in the later years.
When Covid happened, conventions ground to a halt. I hadn’t put any new material out for a while, but this situation really gave me some time to reflect on what I want to do in this business going forward. I was frustrated that my biggest claim to fame is still the Tick, which was 35 years ago. A lot of people told me how much they love the Tick, but that wasn’t selling many books for me.
I had some goals in the business that were unfulfiled. I wanted to do regular work for the bigger companies. I wanted to work on projects with a lot of the names I admired when I was coming up. I wanted to do some artwork on Amazing Spider-man before I ended my career. In the 90s, I went from doing comics full-time to just freelancing again around a regular nine-to-five.
There are a few old comic creators who get booked at shows and do okay with booking fees and signings or commissions. Very few of them are still actively working on books, though. It’s a shame, because the talent that built an empire doesn’t seem to be worthy of working on the modern comics.
I could create and put out some more of my own books and start doing shows again. I’m not really content with putting that much work into a project with so few numbers. I want to get my material into comic shops and have a real chance at distribution. I just don’t think that’s possible with the current systems in place.
I’m not sure kids today are reading comic books like my generation did. It’s confounding, becuase now all of those stories and characters are appearing in movies and TV shows, and everyone knows them. The business of comic books doesn’t seem to have been rejuvinated by this success, though.
With so many forms of media and gaming available to young people on small screens they keep in their pockets, what chance do comics have? Would you pay five bucks for a book you spend less than two minutes flipping through and then have to wait another month for it to continue? Maybe the characters and stories will endure, but the vehicle that carried them has run its’ course.
I could be wrong. I know a lot of creative people who have wracked their brains for years to try and come up with a unique angle that will save comics. With print on demand and ickstarter, it’s easy enough to put a book out today. All I need are a few dozen pages of material, and I can have a printed book in my hands in a few days. I don’t know how to reach the masses out there that would enjoy it, though, and I think that’s what’s holding me back.
I don’t regret my time in the comics business even if I never got to achieve what I set out to accomplish. I have a lot of success stories, but I’ve taking a bit of a break to really see how I feel about it. I’m working on a cover for a friend, but other than that, I have nothing in my creative hopper. I won’t do any more shows unless I have something signifigant to show for it. I’m not saying I’ll never do comics again, and am open to inspiration, but for now I’m mostly watching and waiting.