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Quote of the Day | Mark Waid’s advice to young freelancers

Mark Waid

Mark Waid

“There are some really good reasons to do work-for-hire. It’s a valuable way to build a reputation. It’s probably not wise to devote 100% of your time to it, but only you know what your priorities and appetites are, and no one else has a right to judge them. And, yes, every job has its drawbacks and moments where it’s better to be flexible than absolute. I truly, truly understand having to take work you don’t love, or work with folks you don’t love, in order to make the rent. And early on, there are things I put up with that I now regret, and there are opportunities I lost because I pushed back, and there are still things I do sometimes to be a get-along guy that aren’t always in my best interests. Everyone’s threshold is unique, and sometimes you let someone take undue advantage because the cupboards are bare or because you’re dealing with a friend who’ll get yelled at if you don’t toe the line. I get that. Circumstances are circumstances. But if you never listen to another word I say, and I talk a lot, please know this: the only one watching out for your future is you.”

– industry veteran Mark Waid, from a lengthy “Open Letter to Young Freelancers” that’s a must-read not only for comics creators — of any age, and at any stage in their careers — but also for freelancers in other fields, to say nothing of editors, publishers and consumers.

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Comments

10 Comments

That qualifies as “advice”? Sounds like simple common sense to me.

Perhaps, Jake, but what is it they say about common sense?

Good stuff. Love how it applies to all avenues of creative work, too. A lot of this rang true for me, having worked in non-fiction/journalism for many years.

No one really gives a shit about you except you?

Sounds like a sad, lonely perspective.

Karolina, he is speaking about your professional life … and it’s true …

I think the guys that have it best are those that don’t make a comic book career their reason for living. There are a lot of those creatives and it is sad when they are tossed aside. Having read about some of the creatives that are no longer getting work I think I have somewhat of an idea of who some of them are that Mr. Waid may be speaking of when he mentions that they have been unemployed for years, despite doing their jobs or pulling the editor’s behind out of the fire.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever read was from Syd Mead who said that he never allowed one type of work to account for more than 1/3rd of his income. The same could be applied to a comic book career. For really successful artists like William Stout, Neal Adams or James Steranko, comics books are just one of the things that they do for a living, not THE thing.

I want to correct something I wrote. I don’t mean that comics are the only reason they live and breathe. I meant that it is their sole interest as a career. The days when that’s all one could do are pretty much over. Guys like Stout, Steranko and Adams were just ahead of the curve.

“I think the guys that have it best are those that don’t make a comic book career their reason for living. ”

I’d amend that to “those that don’t make a comic book career -working on company-owned characters- their reason for living.”

After seeing the success that people like Kirkman, Mignola, Millar, Vaughan, Ellis, Bryan O’Malley, etc. have had across all media by focusing on material they own outright, no creator in their right mind would waste their entire career slaving away generating IP for the big two.

Unless they have a goal of writing for the Big Two.

BradRZ – ’I’d amend that to “those that don’t make a comic book career -working on company-owned characters- their reason for living.”

You are absolutely correct.

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