Not everyone who seems to be on your side is actually helpful

There’s seemingly nonsensical phrases out there that are brilliant advice.  Like “If you want to make sure something gets done, give it to someone who’s too busy.”   The point of this being that “busy” people actually know how to get things done, that’s why they are busy…and someone with a lot of time on their hands doesn’t understand as well the sense of urgency you would be trying to convey.

Another  – If you want good advice, ask a jerk.  Point of this being that a jerk will have no problem telling you like it is, won’t spare your feelings in detriment to the truth, while a friend might sugar coat things or leave out something  insulting that you need to hear.

…the former being what I’m known for.  Which brings us to a teachable moment that presented itself recently.  This is about the creative industry in general, but you can use this overall lesson in any walk of life.

I posted a blog on the stupidity of spending your time drawing bootleg prints

That blog here-http://arseniclullabies.com/wordpress/?p=15551

  And up jumped someone to defend the people making them ( I had forgotten to turn off the comments option…a mistake I won’t make again…more on that soon.)

His comments are below in blue-

He’s railing against the system of artists who draw other people’s intellectual property. NOT that they are selling other people’s actual artwork. So it’s not an issue of an artist stealing someone else’s drawing of Batman and passing it off as he own. It’s about John Smith Artist drawing his own picture of Batman and selling it without DC’s permission.

Kid… Tough shit.

They are putting in the work to draw Cap or Batman, and it’s their own work. If you’re asking every artist to only come up with ORIGINAL CHARACTERS OF THEIR OWN and sell prints of only those, then this isn’t the industry for you. I would suggest the food service or housekeeping industry for someone with your top-flight qualifications.

If you limit yourself to just drawing your own original characters, then that’s on you. I would be interested to see how a typical encounter goes at your table with a random guest.

Guy: (points at piece of work) “who is that?”

 “That’s Relion, my own character. His story is 7,000 years ago on the planet Medilan, Prince Rufort had to..”

Guy: I like ROM, The Space Knight (walks away).

I’m going to sound mean, but you might need to hear it honestly from someone. You’re an idiot. If you think artists aren’t going to draw what makes them money, then do 2 things. Stop being an artist with morals. And stop writing EXTREMELY LONG blogs whining about it.

Had you been even once on the side of artists who copy other people’s actual work, like Rob Granito and his ilk, I would have had your back. But nope. Kid, this is how those honest artists make their money and get their name out there. You pay your dues drawing original artwork, if not actually of original characters.

It’s still their actual talent behind the art. Give them the credit they are due for that. Respect them for that as your peers or you are going to find that your fellow vendors at those cons are going to freeze you out and those hours sitting at that table are going to be long and lonely.

I hope this helps, and good luck in the future, in whatever career you have. If you decide to stick to your principles and tell people you will ONLY draw your own original stuff, then remember- you are not an artist who only works at Applebee’s until you become a comic artist. You are an employee at Applebee’s who does some drawing on the weekends. Lean into that.

Oy…In an upcoming blog I’ll deal with what an ignorant jackass he is, as a person, (***update, that blog is here) but for now…let’s just look at “the tale of the tape” as they say on the givers of opinions here-

The commentor- some guy on the internet, goes to some comic-cons, doesn’t work in the comic book industry, hasn’t bothered to even check to see who wrote the blog.

The blogger  – Douglas Paszkiewicz, a Harvey Award Nominee, Eisner Award Nominee, and Comicdom Award Nominee.

Illustrator on Arsenic Lullaby-Image Comics-Valiant Comics-The Tick- Mad Magazine -Comedy Central.

Those are the messengers,  and the messages are both wrapped in bluster, and acerbic tone.  The nuts and bolts of things is what you need to be able to discern, when you get opinions or advice.

The people who are trying to help you and the people who are trying to f*ck you up are not always so easily recognized.  Sometimes they don’t even realize which side of things they are on.  And often they are on the opposite side as conventional wisdom would say.  I work in the comic book industry, one would assume I’d be trying to f*ck new people up. He is a fan/convention attendee/comic book reader, (webmaster Joe was able to easily find the guy on the internet, he does not work in the industry and does not exhibit at conventions…like I said…more on him soon ***update, that blog is here***) one would assume he’d be on the side of seeing new things and seeing new talent succeed.

Break things down to their core foundational point…and he is telling you that you can’t, and I am telling you that you can.  Strip away all the bells and whistles away from both of our rants and that is what you are left with.  Tough love and an enabler.  Both those terms have been overused to the point many people just close their ears when they hear them…but they exist for a reason.

This guy, with no experience either way, is telling you that you can’t succeed on your own ideas.  Can you think of a more detrimental message?  He’s telling you that you cannot succeed on your own ideas, to not try, to break the law rather than strive for more.  That’s his message. Pure and simple.  To keep stifling your own creativity and by doing so you’ll eventually “get your name out there”….whatever the f8ck that means.  That’s a phrase that makes my skin crawl, especially when uttered by people no one has ever heard of.  As though they know how to get one’s name out there or even if that has any actual value and what that value may or may not actually be.  And they say it as though “name out there” is equal in all cases.

So that’s one side…someone who has not done anything, telling you that you cannot do it.  That’s, by the way, the type person who is on the side of “you cannot do it” 99.99999% of the time.  People who have done things and have succeeded never take this fall back position, because they know what succeeding actually takes…and it’s nothing special or unique to them.  It is determination…and the bolstering and practice and strengthening of it.

The other side is someone who has accomplished much, telling you that you can do it.  That you should not think like an insect, that you should move forward with your own ideas, that you should fight that fight because in the long term the prize if much greater.  I was born with some artistic talent, sure, but not nearly as much as that of others that started out when I did. Not by a long shot, not by anyone’s imagination. And the ideas for characters and stories that were in my sketchbooks, could have, if I listened to people such as him, still just be sitting in my sketchbooks. But they aren’t, they have been published here and overseas, they have been in mad Magazine, they have been on Comedy Central, they will be seen other places in the future.

They have and will be because I chose to work on them, instead of other people’s ideas, refined them instead of other’s ideas.  Fought for them, improved them, pitched them, raised hell about them, improved them again, instead of other people’s ideas.

Among all the other reasons I laid out, you by forwarding your own ideas, are giving yourself two avenues of success. Your ideas themselves have a life of their own, and your skills have a life of their own.

Work i get that doesn’t involve my own ideas…I got because people saw the skills I developed.  They saw what I could accomplish with characters no one had ever previously heard of and they surmised that that amount of skill could be a great asset to characters that already had decades of name recognition.  They saw skill, hard work, and grit that it takes to advance your own ideas…that is far more impressive and far more valuable to any given project. That is the recipe…not bootlegging, not drawing someone elses’ work.  Applying the sum total efforts to your own work, to a new idea.

 The people out there looking for talent for their big projects, they full well know that there will be adversity ahead, challenges, times when grit and extra effort is needed. In column A they have someone who has done nothing more, thought of nothing grander than re-doing someone else’s characters, in column B they have someone who has fought for his/her own.  They know nothing for sure of column A’s capability or what their reaction to adversity will amount to, they know that column B will laugh in it’s face and double down on the effort.

The success my ideas have had, they gained that because i refined them, worked on them, spent time, effort, and willpower advancing them. And when people looking for new ideas were looking, they saw refined quality work.  Don’t fool yourself, there are people out there looking. Publishers, movie and t.v. studios, gaming companies, you name it.  There are a lot of rehashed concepts out there, there are also entire offices with the sole purpose of finding new things.   Every bad movie, every bad t.v. show, every bad book out there…you telling me you can’t do better? Are you telling me you can’t find a writer to pare up with?  Or for that matter, set your sights on making something better than the good ones, the great ones, the best ones.

It’s about what you are capable of.  About what you believe you are capable of and what you are willing to do to achieve it.

I see people out there who are capable of a lot…who are choosing to do a little, perhaps because they are listening to people like him.  Don’t listen to people like him.  The apex of that path is being illustrator no.478 to draw Spider-Man.  The apex of the path i speak of is Matt Groening.

How would you rather end up?  Whatever your answer to that, the path I speak of can get you there.  If Matt Groening decided to slum it and draw Spider-man for a few issues, I assure you, one phone call from his assistants assistants assistant to Marvel Comics Editor in Chief would get that done.

Think big, work big, do big.  Ignore anyone telling you otherwise.  Not everyone who acts like your friend is going to help you, not everyone who seems like your adversary is going to do you harm.

One last teachable moment, something a little more tangible…an alternative to his ridiculous scenario on how to pitch a new idea to a stranger at a convention, because I know all this pie in the sky talk will only get you so far and sometimes you need a little step by step.

When I stared out at cons I realized quickly I had no idea what I was doing…so the next time I brought along a friend.  A friend who could sell ice to Eskimos.  A friend who who’s best interest was likely that I stayed working for him at his business, rather than moving on.  Remember that “not everyone who seems like your adversary” thing I just said?  This man had skills that I needed to learn.  I brought him along, he taught…and I learned.  Time to pay it forward, eh?

 NOW…the dope  gives a hypothetical scenario where someone tries to get a con goer interested in his original work…pay close attention, because here comes a valuable lesson in pitching your book to strangers, first his scenario-

Guy: (points at piece of work) “who is that?”

Artist: “That’s Relion, my own character. His story is 7,000 years ago on the planet Medilan, Prince Rufort had to..”

Guy: I like ROM, The Space Knight (walks away).

Okay you up and comers..that is NOT how you do it. Just using the one sentence he provided on this hypothetical book being pitched, I will show you how it is done.

First off, the con goer has expressed curiosity, that is 90% of the battle right there.  All you need do now is give them a reason to like it.  I’d reply something like this-

That’s Relion, he’s part of a story I’ve been working hard on (see, most people don’t put two and two together that all this stuff takes hard work. It is simply because they have never been involved in a creative enterprise.  You explain that and it will garner you some respect.  Most people respect hard work, after all).

It’s a sci-fi story (give them a genre, so they can get their head around it a little, after all they don’t have time to read four pages of mood and tone setting. A quick mention of the genre will give them a foundation) where Relion is trying to overthrow a tyrant ( you’re really like 99% of the way home there with this example, as half the people think Trump is a tyrant and the other half think some other branch of the government is tyrannical. Just don’t be heavy handed about that, you’re trying to get people interested in your comic book, not host a political talk show.  Just mention that and let their mind fill in the rest as they see fit…again, you’re giving them something to relate to.  Different minds are going to find different aspects of your work interesting and for different reasons, that’s a good thing).

I’d also make some comment about what kind of person Relion is, maybe show a page or two that conveys his personality.  People gotta be able to relate to the lead in some way or maybe even hate him.  Good stories are about emotional connections, so give them something to send them down that path.  Showing pages also let’s them see the quality of your work.  You have to let the work speak for itself…they’re taking the book home, not you.

After that, they either like it or they don’t and you move onto the next person. It is the law of averages at a certain point, don’t get discouraged. Some people like sci-fi, some people don’t, some people are willing to try new things, some people aren’t.  If we are talking about a mid sized show, if you get 3% of the people interested…you’re going to move a decent amount of books.

Don’t be rude, discouraged or act off putting if they say no.  They were polite enough to listen to your pitch, that’s all you can ask.  Thank them for their time, and let your work hang out in their brain awhile.  Maybe they look around at everything else and decide that in comparison they’d rather spend their money on your work, or maybe they mention it to a friend who reads your type of stuff….maybe…but if you are curt if they say no, then that maybe is gone.  Kapeesh?

“Loud and proud” is the key.  You worked hard, you put out something new into the world…not many people can say that…but you can.  The same goes for showing off online.  Don’t be f8cking shy about it, or apologize for promoting yourself.  If you don’t do it, who will?  Some clown asking you to ‘work for exposure”?  YOU are the root of the exposure. The most viral image that’s ever been seen…someone had to post if first.  Put your work out there for all to see and let the chips fall where they may.  Maybe you get some negative responses, or some people bust your chops for self promotion…shrug..that’s the internet, it’s full of shitters, don’t worry about it.  Don’t fret if you aren’t getting a ton of likes or shares…that by and large doesn’t tell the story.

None of this is to say you shouldn’t access from time to time whether or not you work sucks…at some point logic dictates that you accept that possibility.  Refine it, or scrape it and start over.  Learn from that suckage and do better. If you scrap the whole thing and start over…you’re not actually “starting over’ because you have learned a bunch that someone who hasn’t started at all hasn’t.  Arsenic Lullaby did well right from issue one, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.  It did well because even though the illustrations were outclassed by my peers, the writing was in a class by itself.  That writing…that was learned from a good amount of bad responses from audiences when I was doing stand up comedy.  Negative feedback from strangers is your friend. It is invaluable.  The people you know personally, they will often tell you what you want to hear ( like it’s okay to waste your time doing bootleg prints) but total strangers…they will give you the sh*t end of the stick with no apologies.  You learning which end of the stick has sh8t on it is a good thing.  There is an internal compass you need to hone. One that tells you the difference between what you think is good and what someone outside your brain will think is good.

Now, along with ALLLLLL the other reasons I listed last time for going the route of making your own original work instead of bootleg prints is return business.  Let’s say you sell that Captain America bootleg, let’s even say it was very, very good.  Are they going to look for you online to see part 2?  Is your, very good, bootleg of Cap going to so massively outshine all other bootleg prints of Cap that they come specifically to you next year for a bootleg of whatever the hot movie character is?are they going to be able to discern your wall of prints from the 30 other walls of prints next year? Probably f*cking not.

But if you got them hooked on a story, interested in a charter, and your booth is displaying your original charter, than last years hard work turns into this year’s easy turn over.

But hey, what do I know. According to that last guy I actually work at Applebees.

Now that that’s out of the way…stay tuned next week for me personally replying to this jackass’s insults.  That will not be a teachable moment, it will just be me sinking to his level…nay…sinking beneath it, for my own juvenile pleasure. (***update, that blog is here)

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When Douglas is not here, he and his work can be found at www.arseniclullaby.com

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