Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sports Cars, NIGHT FOLK, and Kickstarter, part one

(This is the first of two posts where I plan to talk a little about why I decided to do a Kickstarter campaign, and why I decided to raise money to write a novel as opposed to financing a personal comic book project. If you're curious about the project I'm fund-raising for, visit the NIGHT FOLK Kickstarter page)

You remember the stereotypical guidance counselor question, right? The one about what would you do if you had a million dollars? The idea was whatever you would do if you were rich is what you should do for a career.

I had three guidance counselors in high school, and as far as I know, none of them ever asked me that question. Not sure how I would have answered it back then. Probably something about playing bass in a rock band.

Still, if someone DID ask me that question at any point in the last 5 or 6 years, I know what my answer would be -- I'd write novels, and write and draw comics on the side.

Don't get me wrong, I love drawing comics and I love writing them whenever I can, but it's a rough job, and not the easiest lifestyle. When you've got a job, you spend 12-16 hours a day at the table (or computer), seven days a week. And when you don't have a job, you're on the sharp edge of an emotional razor, desperately trying to line up work while second guessing everything from the way you draw to each and every career choice you've ever made.

(Note to aspiring comic book creators: I don't mean to make it sound so scary, but freelancing full-time can be a hard life. Whenever people ask me how to break in, I always try to add something about holding on to the day job for a while - even if it doesn't pay as much as the comic book work - just for a little added stability and much needed social interaction.)

Maybe that's just my experience, but I've talked with enough comic book artists to know I'm not the only one who struggles with the full-time freelance comic artist lifestyle. And considering I've been struggling with it for nearly 20 years, it's kind of amazing I've lasted this long.

This March is the 18th anniversary of my first professional work in comics. Throw in the fact that I also just turned 40 and you've got a recipe for a wild and perhaps misguided attempt at a major life change. And while some people might run out and buy a red sports car (can't afford one) or get a toupee (don't need one) or start dating someone far too young for them (my long-time girlfriend is 5 years younger than me, so maybe I'm actually guilty of this one already), but I decided to try to finally launch my career as a prose writer.

Only one problem. Working that many hours at the art table doesn't leave much time to write, and it's kind of hard to launch a writer career unless you've actually written something. I've been working on some things, including my long-running side project, a novel featuring my character Evan Fade, but I didn't have anything that I could wrap up quickly while still drawing comics full time, and I was in no position to take time off from comics to finish anything. I do need to keep a roof over my head after all, and while it kind be frustrating sometimes, I have no intention of giving up my comic book career entirely.

And that's when I noticed friends like Ian Struckhoff and Tony Harris raising money for their personal comic book projects on Kickstarter, and it got me thinking.

I'd already been toying with the idea of financing a graphic novel through Kickstarter, but with my 40th fast approaching (and my complete inability to buy a sports car), I decided there was no point doing something like this unless I went all-in, and what I wanted to do most wasn't more comic book work (even if it was something personal like The October Girl or Night Folk); it was to write a novel.


No comments: