I had a really insightful, inspiring discussion with a dear friend last night, who’s in town for the New York Comic Con this weekend. We talked partly of our experiences with a particular shared publisher but also of where we are right now and where we want to go. Also … of New York in relation to a cartoonist in general, and how moving here has been one of the best things to have ever happened to me. In a few weeks, I’ll have been here a whole year. Not a lot seems to have happened to me, I think, from the outside looking in. From the inside looking out, I feel like this city has shaken, stirred, and filtered me in ways subtle yet profound.
As a cartoonist who hasn’t published anything in about five years, it’s difficult, I think, to relate to others just how profoundly living in this city has affected me. I was still producing back in Austin, but they were stories that got tucked into drawers, hidden away from anybody who might see them. I felt lethargic. Nothing was pushing me. Nothing was either painful or happy enough to inspire me to new heights. There was no community to scream and cry and laugh with … or to compete against in a way to push one another to new levels.
Yes, there’s the internet. But it’s not the same as a community that breathes in your face and lets you know when you’re stepping on its toes. I’m still something of a recluse; I don’t go out every night. I don’t party with other cartoonists. Our gatherings our random, infrequent, and low key. My candle is burning neither bright nor fast anymore. But, it’s been relit. Just being NEAR people I can relate to, who make me feel love and hate and passion towards their works inspire me. Simply knowing there’s access to a wealth of resources, even if I frequent those resources less often than I otherwise could or possibly should, sets the candle burning. I think my passion’s finally come back to me, and it was nice last night being able to talk about it to somebody who’s been there, gone through that, can relate to so many similarities.
Not everything is solved by the internet. Real life friendships and community make a portion of that which can never be replaced by digital interaction. I’ve learned that in the last year. The value of friendships. Of maintaining those friendships. Of not being afraid to seek out what’s right.
Oh heck, to live in a city I know I’ll never be unemployed in. That’s certainly 40% of it right there. My guts no longer gnawing with worry over whether I’ll be able to make rent THIS month, then what about NEXT month and dear God, what am I going to EAT?
Starving, kinda sucks. Not starving is kinda nice. New York’s a good place to keep fed.
And I’ve seen people living different kind of lives: cartoonists making it but each of them in different ways and drawing inspiration from that and finding a place that’s right for ME. Small towns don’t give you those options. There are only so many styles of life to choose from. Here, I can make the life that *I* want and be psychologically and financially free to pursue my cartooning career again.
Anyway, I’m not going to be at NYCC this weekend. I have no reason to be there because there’s nothing for me to show yet. I hate showing up to a party with empty hands. But Matt’s out of town for his best friend’s wedding, and I’m willfully unemployed so that I can be working on a 40-page children’s comic. One of my own. I think I’m gonna be doing that this weekend, just like I have for ten hours every day for the last month, excluding weekends to cuddle with my honey-bunn and terrorize the town. :P This one aims at being finished, not just roughs. Here’s to it!