My dream job was to work for one of the big two comic book companies and have a long and distinguished career. Writing came natural for me and knew what was involved in having a career because I knew several people who had careers for writing for comics. Some I would call a friend, because we worked together at a certain comic shop in San Diego (this is the comic book writer, not the novel writer, oh yes, not so subtle name dropping without mentioning names) had a wonderful stint at Marvel and DC Comics.
Yes, I knew how to get to my dream job and I just needed luck to get in.
Well, as Obi-Wan said, “there’s no such thing as luck.”
Luck is what you forge yourself and luck is dependent on what you consider luck.
There were a lot of writers I studied in the 80s when I was working to break into comics and get the dream job. My friend you got to work for Marvel and DC became so successful that he had two or three movies, depending on how you count, made about his character. (Hint: Winter is coming, soldier) I would have imagined this would bring fame, fortune and financial security.
He’s not working for the major companies right now. He still produces comics, very successful comics but they aren’t household characters. People in comics will know where to find his material but you won’t see is work mass produced on T-shirts and jumping out from cereal boxes. He’s content where he is because the one thing I never understood about the industry is the amount of control you can lose when you are tied into the massive money-making machine.
I’ve read about the commerce vs. art wars all the time. I’ve been involved in small scale skirmishes myself; where I felt the integrity of the work was sacrificed because of sales or higher ups wanting to take a safe path. It’s a battle that the artist will always struggle with. What happens is you begin to realize how fickle fame is, especially on the level with a massive fan base like Marvel and DC with the whole movie and TV universes. You may want to make a dramatic, life altering change to the character, but that might be counter to possible product and merchandising options down the road. You want to make the change for the art, the company, the people who pay your salary, wants to keep things the same. You butt heads but it is fruitless to fight the battle. Either you keep the status quo or the thousands of people who also dream of becoming the next big creator will gladly grab the brass ring and you will be fired.
The artist life, be it music, acting or writing, they always must think about the struggle of being successful and the “be true to your art” attitude. If you want to define your craft, whatever it is, by how much material things you have, well, it will be a beast of a struggle. People sometimes talk about being edgy or different, but acceptance and compromise will make you successful. It’s contrary to what we believe because what we think is edgy and different isn’t measured by what small town safe Middle America is thinking in a clutch the pearls moment. The successful creators will instinctively know when to push the envelope and when to pull back. They will learn what battles are worth fighting for and which ones where you take a bullet for the greater good.
But, coming back to the main point, you must define what is successful so that you know what is a compromise, what is fighting for principle and knowing what your goal is. I am by no means successful in terms of fame and fortune. My parents remind me of that every chance they get. The problem is I don’t have the same definition of success as they have and that is why we aren’t on the same page. My parents have a general 50s attitude on success. They want me to have the wife, kids, house, car, church going, God fearing, community leader kind of success. I’m not looking to be the next pillar of the community, because from my POV, many of the strong community leaders haven’t been leaders. They haven’t been happy with the responsibility. Because they have been held up as examples and community leaders, when they have fallen, and they have fallen hard, many will look at them with shame and pity.
I don’t want to be Kirk, Picard, Sheridan or Blake (from Blake’s 7). I’ve always been comfortable as Scotty, La Forge, Garibaldi or Avon (from Blake’s 7). I’m the guy who will got down and dirty to get the job done. It’s might not be pretty but I’ll get results. I don’t need a lot of the fame, but a little recognition goes a long way for me. I’m making a little money from writing, or from any creative stuff in general, but I have a job that pays the bills and I can have a bit left over so I can enjoy myself. That all I’m looking to have right now. I just want to be happy and even keel.