When the creator of Peanuts, Charles M. Shulz, was asked about his advice for cartooning as a career path for newcomers, this is what he said.
“It will destroy you. It will break your heart; you have to set up some kind of defense, and it never ends. They break your heart when you're starting off trying to get some breaks, trying to break in, and you have to struggle with the publishers and the editors, and all that. And in the end, they break your heart. It never ends. Obviously, it's this way in all art forms…”
Now, that’s coming from the most successful cartoonist in history. You would think when you hear these things from the most successful artists ever, you’d run for the hills and not pursue this foolish path to heartbreak and despair.
Not me. I always read between the lines in what they were really saying in order to avoid it. Here’s how I dissect it.
Notice who the “they” are in these cautionary tales. The ones who have this power to destroy you and break your heart. Publishers. Editors. “and all that.” In Chuck’s case, Syndicates and the many middle managers there.
It used to be a necessary evil to need the “they”. And that really is the beauty of the internet age, you can cut out these middlemen and make a path for yourself. What do any of them really offer you when you really break it down? Even some of the the “great” deals I’ve heard of or been offered, put the lion’s share of money into every other pocket, and leave the creator with peanuts.
“Obviously, it's this way in all art forms…”
This is not to say you shouldn’t have a publisher or a good editor, with the right deal. And of course you may need some help along the way. The point is, you don’t actually NEED these middlemen anymore. And there is still a stigma out there that you do need them, or you’re not a “real” success without them. It’s BS.
Be on the lookout for these wannabe “gatekeepers” who want to hold this power over you. These days it might be a webtoon hub, or a social media platform or app with the power to just de-list or de-monetize you in the middle of the night, even after years of you building your content. I see this happen regularly.
This is also one of the main reasons I stopped publishing my comics on Webtoon.com after apparently a summer intern decided to wreak havoc by taking down random comics in my archive. (a longer story for another time)
I know other artists this has happened to and it can be crushing and heartbreaking. I’ve seen this happen on other platforms too like Instagram, tiktok, facebook. I imagine it’s killed several dreams or stopped some creator’s momentum dead in their tracks.
Don’t let that happen to you.
“You have to set up some kind of defense, and it never ends.“
And so that’s what this is all about. Being mindful of the current world around us and who may be the current gatekeepers that want to have the control over the creators. Let’s never put that power to destroy or break your heart in the hands of some wannabe gatekeeper.
If you’re going to dance with these gatekeepers, always have this in mind, and have a backup plan.
Don’t let it go to your head.
One last word of caution from Charles Shulz…
“People give me these wonderful compliments, but I know better than to stick my head up. You stick your head up and you're going to get shot down.” - Charles M. Shulz, creator of PEANUTS.
A good lesson from stoicism is to never let either compliments or negative comments effect your work. Keep your head down and nose to the grind stone. Your work can speak for itself. And if you stick your head up, be ready to take some punches.
In the spirit of Mr. Shulz, this week’s prompt topic is “The Red Baron”. You can go the fan-art route and draw the classic “Snoopy Flying Ace vs Red Baron” or you can draw the Red Baron himself, or his bi-plane. Need some reference? Here’s a Youtube video for you.
Fun fact, i had this album on vinyl when I was a kid and wore it out playing it over and over!
BONUS SURPRISE: For the first 13 artists who draw this week’s prompt, I’d like to send you a special prize in the mail. I only have 13 of the secret thing this week.
To be eligible post your drawing to Instagram, tag it #drawordiechallenge, and DM me there to make sure I see it! If you’re not feeling brave enough to post it or want to remain private, you can just e-mail me your drawing. Sound good?
I use TRELLO boards a lot to stay organized with multiple projects. Here is an example of how I used Trello to do time management on my comic pages and the different tasks. If you have a free Trello account, you can open your own board based on the layout and card templates there. I encourage you to make your own. It’s free to use.
LINK TO MY “DRAWING BOARD” template.
Thanks for reading. Back to the drawing board for me!
Connect with me elsewhere? 👉👁 @djcoffman on Instagram / TikTok / Twitter
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This is amazing. And honest always stay strong and focused on your dream 👍🏾👍🏾