Career Path Regrets?

By | Monday, January 23, 2023 Leave a Comment
Regardless of your preferences of genre, style, creators, format, or anything else, you've likely had some comic that your really like come to an end. Maybe sales were too low for it to remain profitable, maybe the creator moved on to other projects, maybe there were legal complications... there are millions of reasons why a comic might end. While that can be annoying and frustrating and potentially even maddening to see something that brought you joy come to an end, I find myself wondering about the creators who worked on it. Particularly, the creators who step away because they're "forced" to and don't even return to the medium and also those who never seemed to do more than dab their toes in the water.

If you look at someone like Bill Watterson, he worked on Calvin & Hobbes for ten years and decided, "You know, I've said everything I wanted to say with this. I'm going to move on." So he ended the strip. Considering he's (as far as anyone can tell) not done really any substantial work of any sort since then, he's made/making enough in royalties that money isn't a concern and his outlets of creative expression are for his own benefit alone. That's a virtually unique position to be in, but it still fits in with the somewhat iconoclastic ideals he held while he was still producing the strip.

But compare that against untold legions of webcomikers who ran a webcomic for however-many months or years, and eventually had to step away from it because it took too much time away from earning a living. Take, for example, James Hatton. His In His Likeness comic was one of the first webcomics that I read regularly, probably starting around 2006. For a variety of reasons, I hadn't checked in on it in a while though, and as I look today, it appears not to have been updated since early 2019. It looks like he did do a handful of strips in 2020 that he posted on Facebook, but not his site and those appear to be one-offs. I can't seem to find a definitive reason for his stopping, but I get the impression it's related to being able to devote the time to it. He certainly didn't seem to indicate that he's tired of the work or has gotten annoyed with readers or that he's run out of ideas or anything else. It's not an uncommmon refrain, particularly among newer creators, that they simply can't afford to devote so much time to something they can't earn a living at. Hell, even Jack Kirby had issues with that in his later years, and put forth some effort towards animation because (in part) it paid better than comics!

So I find myself wondering about those folks. The creators who did some really cool comics, but were forced to step away to do something else. Do they hold regrets there? Wishing they could've made their comic more financially successful? The ones I'm aware of seem to be doing fine in tangental careers as illustrators or graphic designers or whatever, but since they pursued comics first, is that something of a "lost love" for them?

And how does that compare against creators who have just dabbled in comics? Do any of you recall way back in 2008, Ciara tried doing a comic of herself as a superhero? How about Coldplay's comic from 2011? Joe Satriani's one that's been slowly dropping since 2021? Obviously, they're all musicians and have put a lifetime of effort into their music so it's not surprising that they'd be more successful on that front, but how do they feel about the limited success of their respective books? Were they disappointed when sales weren't as much as they'd hoped, given their respective fanbases? Were they strictly promotional ideas from a manager, and they really did nothing apart from lending their name to them?

And what of creators thoughts from one to another? Do those creators who earnestly tried comics and were 'forced' into other careers resentful of someone like Keanu Reeves who simply parlays his fame from another industry into comics? Or worse, parlay that fame into comics only to abandon comics to go back to their 'primary' career? Ultimately, I'm sure it's different from person to person and situation to situation, but it's just something I find myself wondering about today.
Newer Post Older Post Home