We live in a tough world. But I imagine it’s always been that way, just with a different set of circumstances. Because of this reality, from time to time, I find myself wondering just what use it is to make comics. In this world, what is the purpose of putting pen to paper? Drawing scenes within squares? This is one of my more existentially damning thoughts. However, I suspect that many other creators have the same questions now and again. So today, this is what I muse on.
Some days, it does seem futile to me. Like no matter what I draw or write, it doesn’t really matter. Because there is so much going on not only in the world at large, but in my own personal life. Sometimes, you just sit and wonder why you do it. But, I think the comics in themselves are the biggest reason I and other creators press on. See, I think that if I didn’t make comics, I’d probably be in an institution. If not, my life would surly be void of any real purpose. Years ago I felt this medium calling out to me and knew I was meant to be there. I don’t know much about destiny (or density if you’re George McFly), but I do think we give our lives meaning, and these comics are mine. On days where I wonder why I even bother, I come to remember that there’s nothing else I’d want to do. I’m a creative person, and I choose to put that energy into comics because it’s the medium I love. It captivated me as a child, and propelled me in a direction in a time where I was rudderless.
Like I said above, it’s a tough world. Sometimes I have to realize that I’m making these comics for myself just as much as for everyone else. They are my lifeline through the hard times we face. I think we lose sight of this. When something bad happens and I ask myself, “what’s the point?” I often forget that these comics are what will get me through. We all want to change the world with our work, but many times, we just need the work to make sense of our own lives, not the world. The world as a whole will probably never make sense. Thus, you can only do your best to put yourself in order, right? These comics are often time personal. Even if they are funny (like much of my work. Wait, I’m funny, right? Don’t answer that), they come from my own experience. This is how I catalog what I’ve been through. It’s how I keep my head above water when the bad things happen. Sometimes the world needs a comic. But I think almost always the creator needs that comic.
But here’s another story that I always think about when questioning just why I do what I’m doing. Now, keep in mind, I’m not famous, I’m hardly even recognized around town. But once, as I was selling comics at a Free Comic Book Day event, I was approached by a family. They bought my comic and asked me to sign it. They wanted a personal message for their daughter that read: “Keep drawing!” And to me, this is always one of the most successful feelings I’ve ever had. It wasn’t about me being asked to sign the book, but about the message. That I, a lowly part time creator chasing a dream, could inspire a kid. That if, hey, that guy’s doing it, maybe I can too! That is perhaps the greatest feeling I’ve had so far as a creator. When I rationalize that I need these comics to go on, but that doesn’t motivate me, I think about that story. Sometimes it feels selfish to think “I need these stories.” But when I think that maybe there are others out there who pick up a pen because some shmuck from their town is out there selling his comics, it makes it worth it. If I can inspire someone to get their own story out, or try, then maybe it’s all worth it.
Now, I know in the grand scheme of things, making comics is small peanuts. In the face of death and war and general chaos. I don’t want this entry to sound like I’m patting myself on the back too much, I know the reality of life. It reminds me of this collection of DC stories put out after 9/11. Now, I was just a kid so I don’t remember it entirely, but there was a story in which two artists struggled with this issue in the after math of the attack. One artist was ready to walk away, thinking it didn’t matter anymore. I can’t remember what the other one said, but I think it had something to do with giving people hope.
See, people can read and relate to comics, they can be inspired. They know that the creator(s) of this comic has gone through something the reader has. They know that they are not alone, even if it feels like they are. And that is something that we as creators can’t forget. We share our experiences, and it resonates with other people. It feels like it doesn’t matter sometimes, like our words and pictures amount to nothing. But to some reader somewhere, it’s what they needed. I believe that. I often right comedy (or, uh, try to anyway). And particularly with comedy I wonder if it matters. But I like to make people laugh. It makes me feel good (it’s a surefire way to fight my depression) and who doesn’t like to laugh? At the end of the day, I often think that if I can make a person laugh and forget about their problems, even just for a little while, I’ve done something good. This is not to say I want to rely on escapism, but everyone needs a break now and then, right?
If you and your comics give someone a smile, or hope, or inclusion, or they give you yourself direction, well then what else do you need?