Over the last few years I’ve formed a great many relationships with some incredibly talented people. Designers, writers, artists, professionals, rising stars, editors, and critics–a veritable Baskin-Robbins of friendship. I am so grateful that these people speak to me at all, much less consider me a pal.
I have also met other people. Folks that either choose to brush me off or those whom I have opted to avoid. This can happen for various reasons. The most common is simple and not unlike normal friendships: we do not have enough in common to build upon. This is normal and does not bother me. Why should it? We can’t be best buds with everyone. Sometimes it is enough to respect a person and wish them the best (note that I did not mention berating, slandering, or encouraging aggression with said person).
I do my best to get along with everyone. I try to seem likable. I attempt to view the best in everyone. I am doing my damnedest to put my best foot forward. There are people who make this effort difficult.
Since I started reading comics, going to conventions, and meeting creators, I have noticed a depressing amount of friend-blocking ego in a very small percentage of creators. I have seen it in every flavor of person: designers, writers, artists, professionals, rising stars, editors, and critics. No, I won’t be mentioning names.
Thankfully, in my experience, the percentage of ego maniacs is incredibly small–almost too miniscule to mention. Almost. Most creators I meet are friendly, willing to talk about their experiences, and genuinely want to connect with peers and fans that desire engaging conversation regarding their craft. And then there are the people who would, I believe, sell you a bucket of their own shit if they could figure out how to package it.
What is particularly interesting is the level of professional with which this is attitude is most prevalent. It’s not the guys that are working at Marvel and DC (not usually) and it’s not the mostly independent ladies and fellas putting out books at Image and alternatively similar outlets (though, again, it can happen). The level of professional that exudes the most arrogance is. in my experience, the lowest levels of creator: the self-publishers who have broken their creative hymen and seem to believe that there limited fame has granted them superiority to the remaining mortals in the industry.
You have made a comic. Awesome. You have sold some copies. Sweet! Now chill the fuck out and keep working. Do not stop. Keep grinding. In the words of the great Jay-Z, “on to the next one”.
Should you celebrate your successes? Absolutely. Have a party! Get your friends together to eat, drink, and be merry.And then get back to work.
The comic industry is a small one. People talk. First impressions can be made before you enter the room. Acting like a jerkoff to someone you don’t know because you have some false sense of importance could literally kill your career before it starts (I know you think it started already because you made that one comic, but I’m referring to the long game here).
The way you carry yourself will have others talking about you long after you’ve parted ways, for the better or worse. The most personally influential creators I have met are the ones that ooze humility. There is a long list of people whose work I admire that have converted me from fan to apprentice. I learn from their presence as much as I learn from their craft, perhaps more so.
We all make mistakes. Sometimes we’re dicks. It happens. Apologize and move on.
Hopefully, when you actually are the most behemoth of comic creators, with Marvel and DC both begging you to join their teams, you will maintain a balance of pride and approachability. At that point you will from being known for being great at what you do, to being great at who you are.
That’s more important. Isn’t it?