Yesterday, I found an online collection of zines and small press comics, including a few of my own. I shuddered when I looked at the date of the original comics- 1998, made when I was in high school, which means I have been doing this for fifteen years and am not yet rich and famous.
The dream of many an artist, actor and musician is that their work will be found and they will become rich and famous. This dream usually includes a luxurious easy life where the artist can do whatever he likes in a tropical or super lush mountainous setting, surrounded by beautiful people and perhaps working an hour or three a day on art when he is so moved. The art that is made is then magically transported to a place where it can change the world. The reality is that there are a lot of middlemen in there, sixteen hour days and probably a lot of compromises.
Throughout elementary and middle and high school, most of my real education was spent outside of the classroom. When I wasn't reading or playing with my dog out in the fields, I was drawing and watching cartoons. I think I had this dream of being an animator and unrealistic expectations of being something like Disney. I still shudder at the arrogance of an early college essay I wrote about the importance and possibility of new literary avenues for comics.
I was on the path of pursuing a serious "Illustration" degree, but dropped out of UMBC(University of Maryland, Baltimore County) when I more or less imploded from stress and depression. There were comics I had in local comics shops and a weird comic I had in the college paper that nobody except me understood. In the following years, I would go to small press conventions, comics shops, meet some of my favorite comics artists like Jeff Smith, Dave Sim, Frank Miller (these guys are like Brad Pitt or George Clooney in the comics world) but like many of my fellow small press comics fellows, I never became "rich and famous".
I am not sure I would want that fame and money, because I wasn't prepared to either work for a large syndicate or large animation or comic company(both were possibilites at a time) and I wasn't happy with the business/merchandise heavy angle of many comics. I also realised that a lot of art that I saw as popular wasn't really making as much money as I thought. For every one Jeff Smith or Brad Pitt, you have a hundred other people that are still flipping burgers.
There's a quote (unattributable) that goes "God doesn't give you the people you want, he gives you the people you need", and I think this extends to life in general. Yes, life isn't fair. And I definitely wanted that quick fix of fame like a shot of heroin in my vein but I'm not sure it would have helped. Even if I had made it, there would still be a hundred who didn't. And to tell the truth, I'm not sure I had or even now have anything useful to say. I've had a very interesting life living in the real world and wouldn't have traded that for anything, even though it hasn't been what I'd expected. Or wanted.
But maybe it's what I needed.