Boy, was I ever looking forward to this panel!! That dreaded day job is always getting in the way of creating. Granted, it’s a fount of experiences of which I can totally make me some stories. But, how do you get out of it?
The panel consisted of Daniel Duford, Jeff Lemire, Joelle Jones and BT Livermore and was hosted by Ryan Alexander-Tanner, the artist for Dave’s Killer Bread. After introducing themselves they each gave a rundown of how they got started making comics and where they are now. Lemire and Jones both work or have worked for DC and Marvel while still pursuing their own works independently. BT Livermore self publishes his comics and works with various clients on illustrative projects. Duford is a teacher at PNCA and also makes comics. I think we all agreed that teaching art is NOT a day job, but an expansion on his artistic endeavors. One of the interesting tidbits Ryan pointed out was that the two that are working for Marvel and DC are both college drop outs while the other two who work independently both have college degrees. As my buddy, Father Phil has always said, “Drop Out Now!!”
When asked how long they were working on comics before they quit their day job, most said they were making comics since they were very young. So, like, FOREVER! Jones said she held onto her bartending job a lot longer than she really needed to. I can only imagine that it would be very difficult to give up a solid job for one that can come and go with no guarantee that you will always have work. Lemire said he thought he would always be cooking at a restaurant and making comics in the meantime. It never occurred to him that he would be able to support himself off comics. Now he is all over the place, working on multiple projects. Sounds like heaven to me!!
The main thing I have gleaned from nearly every creator I have heard talk at a convention or on video or read in a blog is that the main way to succeed in comics is to keep working hard. Put everything you can into it and don’t ever give up. Make comics your life. This is what I tell most people I know who complain about not making it. Just keep working. You’ll get better and you’ll continually gain new followers. Go make some comics!!
Here's a drawing of Daniel and Joelle.