That young fellow in the next to last panel? That’s me at around age 25. Took me longer than some to get there.
I just started reading, and you capture here so well some of the frustrations of having your professional goals judged by strangers. For a while I wanted to be a museum curator and I volunteered at a local museum to get some experience. I got into a conversation with a docent one day while she was waiting to give a tour and I mentioned my aspirations. She looked at me with almost gleeful pity and said, “I hope you’re a trust fund baby, then.”
Since that time, I’ve often wondered why strangers would have such a desire to bring other people down, and I can only assume it’s because at some point they decided that their own dreams were out of reach and settled for something else, and it distresses them deeply to see other people who have not given up.
Luckily for you, you’re clearly well on your way to being a successful, thoughtful and talented cartoonist. Thanks for so eloquently capturing your ideas and concerns and emotions in this comic.
hi wats your myspace page
This comic both infuriates and delights me. It infuriates me because I’ve been in that situation before – having people question my educational/career choices – and delights me that someone ~understands~.
I’m in college going for a major in German language studies. Whenever I tell people this, they laugh and ask what I could ~possibly~ ever do with a German major. One person even said it would be as hard to put that to use as it would be to go to Hollywood and make a blockbuster film! I guess these people think books, movies, plays, etc. just magically translate themselves, and I’m sure they’ve never even heard of a courtroom or hospital translator.
But ranting aside, I completely hear you when you talk about the irritation you experience when someone is being so condescending about your career path. These people either just don’t think or regret their own choices so much that they have to pull other people down with them. (“If I can’t succeed, I’ll make you think you can’t either! HA!”) It’s ridiculous, but on the plus side, sometimes it just makes you want to try even harder so you can rub their faces in your success. It could actually be very good motivation!
Dunno about fireman or stockbroker, but I’m a teacher and have had similar reactions to my career of choice. I’ve never been told my profession’s a “man’s game,” but I’ve had the opposite – an elderly gentleman, in all kindness and sincerity, told me, “Oh, teaching. That’s a good job for a woman.”
Lucy, I (just recently) discovered this delightful corner of the interweb, and wanted to thank you so much for sharing your work/hopes/dreams/life with us. You are so talented, funny and insightful. I love your work.
Also, panel 7 reminded me of this amazing TED talk that I watch every once in a while to re-inspire myself creatively:
Excellent post, bookmarked the website in hopes to read more!
This is a really interesting page (and comic!) So are artists then, the children who miraculously do not stop drawing? Are we just the ones with enough drive for whatever reason not to quit?
It seems to me that when you’re a kid you get a great deal more encouragement than when you’re an adult. Growing up I always had the amazing impression that I was going to do great things, but that’s sort of went away as I’ve gotten older. Society is so frustrating. I want to be a writer, but perfection demands that my manuscripts be absolutely PERFECT before I do anything with them, even show them to my mom. I self published my first book after working extremely hard on making it right and clean, but there are people who won’t even give it a chance, just because it’s self published. The self publishing is only temporary – after nearly eleven years of working on the stupid thing I wanted some proof of achievement and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. People would call it vanity. I call it reassurance to my increasingly jaded mind that “see kid, you ARE going to go far, you just have to keep working!” I went to university for animation, but when I discovered that actually going into the industry wasn’t for me (I draw too much from the heart – I’m no artistic trick pony for directors to command) people criticized me for my announcement that I was only going to draw for myself. So what if I’m going to be like that crazy animator who animated an entire movie (Romeo & Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss – it’s about seals) singlehandedly on his tablet and laptop in Flash? I don’t think artists are any less valuable for wanting to freelance it for themselves.
Great comic! Keep it up!
Now there’s a thing … sticking with the gender debate again. Just strawpolled my own regular reading. All online, mostly reasonably successful strips and the like (I find it hard to bother with print for these things any more – though the recently launched, hilarity-through-sheer-refuge-in-offensiveness Mike Millar vehicle “CLiNT” has attracted my attention) where you could say the artist has pushed through said issues of difficulty getting started, getting recognition, battling any preconceived notions, fighting the old establishment etc. Including things I’m currently into, have been into in the past but moved away from, and stuff that’s finished.
Artists: Essentially 15/20 F/M (12 confirmed F, 1 uncertain, 2 mtF trans, 1 ftM, 19 confirmed M)
Writers: ditto 14/21 (-2 F, +1 M/F pair)
Influences and contributors: 5/3 (4F, 1mtF, 3M)
Make of said pretty random sampling what you will. There appears to be a slight bias, but not much I’d ascribe significance to. Stronger amongst the “muses”, in the other direction, but they’re such a small sample base it’s hard to read anything accurate from it.
Oddly the gap widened the more less-often-read, partly-forgotten stuff I threw in. In fact having just remembered another, it’s increased by one again. The core often-read base is a more even split.
I think it’s just an “old person” thing though. Already noticed myself sometimes doing it with youngsters … and I’m “only” 28. My grandmother is an unstoppable machine producing such statements on a ford-style assembly line. Try to ignore it and move on; the critique and encouragement of those who actually see your work, and are there at the moment themselves, is far more valuable.
(Despite her continual enquiry, I’m not beating up on myself for not being a footballer – OK, there’d have been a small, near lottery-win chance of breaking into a big time, insane-salary club, but I’d have hated it anyway and the reality is more that of struggling around the lower divisions your whole career bringing in about enough cash to stay alive and moderately fit)
oh, and I quit drawing creatively over a … ahum … drawn out period… when it was clear that even with practice I just wasn’t all that good, not really that creative (scratchy copies of manga clichés and the occasional typographically rendered goldfish was about as good as it got). the imaginative spark burnt out even before high school … who knows where it went.
technical drawing, now, I can kick ass at that… just don’t ask me to paint anything more than a ceiling with a pot of emulsion and a sponge roller, because you’ll get an autistically detailed but still quite childish rendering of a brick house with a family, pets and car stood outside, with a single tree, single flower, sun, clouds, smoke from the chimney and a couple of birds
or the craptacular “actual” sketches that have brewed up over the years, with perspective and construction lines and horrendous results. Like, three I can actually remember enough to state… 1. some obscene thing on an imageboard with a couple of unlikely characters in response to an art-challenge thread,
2. a (safe for work towel wrapped) girl drying off out of the shower in a bathroom, indignantly yelling at the viewer, made as a gag pic hidden in an otherwise empty cabinet at the back of a room at work whilst waiting for 30 dirt-spec workstations to grind through software installation and updates
3. an escher-link alternate-me self portrait of someone trying to get a (workplace) bluetooth tablet to behave. Went all the way through to colouring and shading that one. Looked like a technicolour pig at the end, though the hand holding the pen didn’t come out so bad. Hmm.
I have better things to do really – these very occasional drawings count for nothing more than blowing off a bit of steam or testing equipment. When your talents lie elsewhere, and time is short, it’s maybe better to work on your strengths… at least at first.
Just wanted to say two things:
One, I love your comic! Der-shing Helmer (of The Meek) linked me here and now my time is being absorbed into the computer monitor via your beautiful pixels.
Second (because I have a mind like a lint-roller, and an odd need to share the stuff that gets stuck to my forebrain): Did you know Van Gogh’s ear may have come off in a duel over the woman he sent it to? It was with a friend, so he didn’t tell anyone who did it, and the popular conception of him as crazy and depressed made that into his defining thing.
Anyhoo, I just thought it was interesting, and I love the image of V. G. dueling someone.
Thanks for the art,
I’ve started a career in outdoor activity coaching in south Wales (the old one in the UK not the snazzy new one in aus) dues mainly for my love of the sports and the joy i get passing on my skills to others, particularly kids whom I want to get the opportunities and experiences I didn’t. I believe my sister’s initial reaction (we’re close) of “you mad” sums up the attitude of every one I ever explain my dreams to. My sis has since been persuaded that it’s not as insane as it would first seem, i’ve got a plan and I am determined. this though unfortunately change the fact that, as usual, she’s right. Even though my industries the strongest it’s ever been n this country and growing by the minute initial wages tend to be poor ill do allot of travelling, mostly in an 13 year old mini cooper called Spencer, and there’s a plethora of injuries that could kill my chances tomorrow. But standing here looking up at the challenges I face and the experiences I’ll only every have because of these choices I see all the other possible lives fade into a very unattractive grey.
I guess what I am trying to say is your dreams, and the people they lead you to meet, are what are key to a truly happy life and an easy life is one where you are not always lamenting lost dreams.
My husband was like that old guy. This is what I put up with every day. I tried to make a living as a comic artist, too. It was realistically attainable at that point, although I wasn’t making a fortune. But the harder I worked at it the more it upset him.
We split up four years ago, and I haven’t been able to draw since. It’s like I both forgot how to do it, and how to enjoy it. Trauma, I guess. It’s painful to try, and the results are frustrating. I was hoping it would pass if I tried to “push through it”, but it hasn’t. I’m trying to bring myself to draw a Christmas card now and I can’t even do it.
I found a boring job in an unrelated field, and I went back to school, hoping to find something new to aim for. I try to seem like I know what I’m doing, but the truth is I’m 30 and have no clue what I want to be “when I grow up”.
As a young’un hoping to go into the same kind of career this comic really speaks to me! My parents are the same way when it comes to the whole jungle metaphor deal, so it’s great to see that there are still people out there who actually believe it’s possible and also strive to reach such a goal!
I’m so far loving your comics by the way!
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