SACRIFICES AND BLOODLETTING

Okay, so you read the first part and decided to either become a full-service creator yourself, learning all of the disciplines needed to create a comic — including  but not limited to drawing, inking, lettering, designing and most likely coloring — because you are the next Dave Sim, Jeff Smith, Frank Miller, Scott McCloud, Eastman and/or Laird ready to set the world on fire — or, most likely since you are still reading this, you are the titular Writer that is seeking an Artist. And I’ve convinced you to pay your artist.

But you probably do not have the infinite bank account of Bruce Wayne. You’re more like me, a Peter Parker type, living from paycheck to paycheck.

So how do you begin to tackle that problem? Well, I do not know your set of specific circumstances and cannot give you a clear path. I can only tell you my experience and what I did, and maybe it will cause the corpuscles in your brain to, umm, corpuscle, and help you figure out a solution to your dilemma.

Now as a disclaimer, I have to mention that I have the fortune of having a terrific support structure (that’s a lot of haves in that sentence). I specifically chose to concentrate on The Führer and the Tramp because I knew the story would appeal to my Wonder Twin comic creator Jon Judy, and he agreed to collaborate on the book together. He helped out tremendously, not only with his creative insights and co-writing the book, but he pitched in financially too.

I am also lucky that I have some very terrific friends and an amazing sister that saw what I was doing, and they started investing in my book so I no longer needed to do resort to the more extreme measures. But that was only after I invested in myself first, and had finished 75% of my graphic novel. But I had a lot of resources that many people may not have at their disposal. So what was the key to my investment strategy? Well it was quite simple.

I sacrificed.

No, I’m not implying that I spilled the blood of a lamb on an alter to Baphomet, not that kind of sacrifice. But if that is your thing, well, more power to you.

Spoiler, there was some bloodletting as the title teases. But before I got to the blood offering, I gave up material things I wanted for the dream I wanted even more. I looked at all of my purchases, and found were I could save money. I didn’t need to pay for my book all at once, just a couple of pages a week, or month.

So I stopped buying comics. There was about a hundred or so bucks a month that I was dropping on my pull list. I was determined to be a creator, not a consumer. I stopped buying video games. At the time, I recall that Witcher III had just come out, and like all new games it was $60. I was buying three or four new games a year, so that right there was about $300. I stopped playing them too, because part of the sacrifice is also one of time. Video games are a time vacuum.

I stopped going out to see movies in the theatre. I stopped going out to eat. I started eating a lot of PB&J sandwiches and ramen noodles. I chose not to get a new car, but drove my 2009 Honda Accord into the ground, and then when it finally gave up the ghost, I bought a used car instead of getting a new car. I canceled streaming services. I stopped going out with friends. I found ways to simplify my living conditions.

I also worked side jobs as much as I could. It turns out, when I wasn’t hanging out with friends, going on dates or spending time playing video games, I had lots of time on the weekends and evenings, that is when I didn’t have shared parenting of my children. I never let my sacrifice be their sacrifice. They got everything they needed and then some. And when I had them, I focused my attention on them, not on the shenanigans of Führers and Tramps. They were much smaller then, so my routine was to tuck them in bed at 8:00 PM, read them a story and lights out by 8:30 PM, and then work until 12:00 or 1:00 in the morning either doing freelance, or working on my comic. Then up at 6:00AM to do it all over again. That too was a sacrifice. I sacrificed my sleep for my dreams.

I also sold everything I could sell. I sold my grandmother’s coin collection she gave to me, including an 1880 $10 gold piece that was in NM condition, and a bunch of 1800s silver dollars. I sold all of my key comics. I sold my Amazing Spider-Man #300 (first Venom), both my New Mutants #87 and #98 (first Cable and Deadpool), Uncanny X-Men #266 (first Gambit) and a ton of others — books I treasured and had bought off the stand. I sold my Star Wars figures, trading cards, and CCG. I sold off my PS3, XBox and all of my games, as well as over a thousand DVDs I had been collecting.

I sacrificed everything I had that held any sentimental value, because I was investing in something bigger. I was not just investing in pages for my comic, but in myself.

And here is the bloody part. I also sold my blood. That’s right, I sold my goddamn plasma. I gave my literal lifeforce to fund my funny book aspirations.

And by doing that, I was able to scrape together a couple hundred bucks a month that I could use to pay an artist. I reconfigured my brain to count every expenditure in pages. Go out for lunch with my colleagues for Taco Tuesday? That’s the cost of a 1/5 of a page. Buy Spider-Man for my PlayStation when it came out? That’s a whole page. Invite that hottie in customer services that I’ve been vibing with to the Foo Fighters concert? That’s at least 4 or 5 pages. Get a lease on a new car? That’s 10 pages a month.

Point being is, I found a way. It was hard, and difficult, but I was desperate to make it work.

If you read this and your lifestyle is such that you cannot sacrifice anything to fund an artist, well in my opinion, you have much more desperate circumstances than trying to create a comic book. Even if you do somehow find a way to make it, you’re not going to be able to afford to go to comic cons, and all of the other extremely expensive things you’ll need to do to promote your book. Your focus should be on learning skills or doing anything to better your daily life conditions. This dream is just going to break your heart and make your life harder.

Is that fair? Nope, that’s life. This is an extremely expensive and demanding endeavour. And if you choose to do this, just know that you’re competing with a crazy mother fucker that actually sacrificed his blood on the altar of the four color floppy gods.

Okay, so you sacrificed your kidneys, and now have a windfall of cash. How do you find the right dude to spend that very hard earned moola on? Next time on Writers Seeking Artists Part III: Leveraging the strong dollar in a game of international finance.