When I first tried to get a job in comics almost ten years ago, I spoke to a seasoned professional about what it was like to work in This Glamor Profession. He gave me cautionary words of wisdom that, of course, I didn’t believe at the time. Those words of wisdom? If you want to stay in love with comics, don’t do comics for a living. I couldn’t understand what he was talking about. I figured he must be a burnt-out hack whose love for comics had never been as great and unquenchable as mine. For my first year in the business, even the second, I proved him wrong. After a hard day at the office, doing assistant editorly things, what would I do to unwind when I got home? You got it – curled up on the couch and read comics! And then, gradually, that compulsion began to erode.
Maybe I proofread one too many story that I felt I could have done a better job on than the writer who wrote it. Maybe as I learned more and more about the art and craft of creating comics, some of the “magic” left the finished product. Yeah, that was it. To some extent, it was like when I learned to play a batch of chords on the guitar. After that, I couldn’t help but listen to songs with an analytical frame of mind, mentally noting chord progressions. Certain groups I once liked (like, say, the Moody Blues), I couldn’t stand to listen to anymore once I was aware how obvious and limited the chord progressions in their songs were! It spoiled my enjoyment of a song if I could figure out how it could be played! Well, I’m far from a professional musician, but I am a professional comics writer and editor. With comics, I became so well-versed in “writerly” techniques that it now takes a transcendantlly good story to make me forget the craft the writer used to construct it so I can just react viscerally to the content of the story.
I used to voraciously read every word of every single superhero title Marvel and DC produced. Now I skim through most of Marvel’s superhero product (in order to keep abreast of any developments in the Marvel Universe) and thumb the bulk of DC’s. There are now only between five and ten books put out by Marvel and the various other publishers that I actually take home and read for pure pleasure. And make no mistake, I’m not a burnt-out hack whose love for comics was never as great and unquenchable as yours. Really! Despite the fact that reading comics is not that much fun for me anymore, making comics gets more fun with each passing year! This really is the Glamor Profession, as far as I’m concerned, and I wouldn’t trade it for any other. I guess the moral of all this is: if your hobby becomes your profession, you’d better find another hobby.