“If It All Falls Down”
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We were at a panel discussion — it may have been in San Diego — one year and the question was asked: When should I give up?
The guy had been working on his webcomic for a number of months (perhaps over a year or so).*
My philosophy on this remains unchanged. And it’s based on my “worst-case scenario” thinking I’ve shared here before — in that I ask myself if I can live with the worst-case scenario. If I can, it’s a justifiable risk for me.
What’s the worst-case scenario if your webcomic never pans out? What if webcomics are a flash-in-the-pan, and all of the major success has already been snapped up by the others who arrived on the scene earlier than you?
The answer for me is that I will have had several years of doing what I love to do best — creating comics for an appreciative audience. See, I couldn’t have reached my audience before Webcomics. And all I’ve ever wanted was to be a professional cartoonist. Webcomics has made all that possible.
What if it comes crashing down tomorrow?
What — as that hard-drinking Calypso poet, Jimmy Buffett, once lamented — “If it All Falls Down“? (Read the lyrics… you’ll see what all us creative types struggle with this.)
I will have had several years of being able to realize a childhood dream.
How many people get that in their lives?
Damned few, pal.
What if it never turns into a career?
You take those skills you learned — and the name that you’ve hopefully made for yourself doing a comic that was read widely and appreciated by a number of people — and you move on to the Next Thing.
What Next Thing?
Comics have been around for over a hundred years. In that time, the basic format has changed very little from those early “Mutt and Jeff” strips.
That makes me confident that strips have a life that will go on for a decent stretch further. I’ve written before why I think comic strips in particular have a power that makes them viable well beyond my lifetime.
But even if I’m wrong about that — in that particular worst-case scenario — there will always be the basic human need to tell stories. And there will always be those among us who do that with a combination of words and images.
There will always be cartoonists.
You may never quit your day job. You may never make this a career.
And, realistically, if that’s what you’re in it for, you’re setting yourself up for a disappointment.
But if you’re in this thing because you NEED to… because there is no other way of self-expression that satisfies your itch.
Then your worst-case scenario is the same as mine. You’ll have years of satisfying creation behind you… maybe a few books to show your kids… maybe a few fans who remember you fondly…
And that ain’t so bad.
* After Scott, Kris, Dave and I started doing the Webcomics Weekly podcast and the “How To Make Webcomics” book, I started to experience something I’ve come to name “The Nine Month Itch”: After nine months, many, many people expect to have become a Major Internet Sensation — and are despondent if they’re not. This guy may very well have made it past the nine-month mark, though.