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(Gr)Attitude

| September 17, 2012

I’m not much of a praying man, but I have always liked the notion that the single best prayer one can say is only two words long:

Thank you.

Thanking those who make our creative aspirations possible is something we can probably never do enough.  My list is quite long…

Thank you for reading this column, and for steadily building up ComixTribe’s readership over the past 21 months.

Thank you for supporting an incredible Kickstarter campaign, which is giving me the opportunity to make a hardcover exactly as I envisioned it in my head, and showcasing the talents of many of my favorite creators.

Thank you for coming out and seeing ComixTribe at conventions…hope to see many of you in New York next month!

Thank you fans and retailers for buying, supporting, and promoting our books.

Thank you to my collaborators for creating with me.

I could go on. I could be here all day.

The broad point I’m trying to make is that showing genuine gratitude for all of the people you need to make it in comics (and life) is important.  Many parts of the process of comics creation are solitary…but it takes many people to support a career.  Gratitude is required in heavy doses.

And closely related to gratitude is attitude.

There are a lot of things we can’t control in this life– the circumstances of our birth, the natural gifts we were given, etc.  But attitude is one extremely powerful force that is ENTIRELY under our control.

“Your attitude determines your altitude” is one of those pithy quotes, a veritable public school gym poster of a platitude, that I think is absolutely true.

I see plenty of creators out there whose skills still need a ton of work, but whose attitudes are keeping them on a path towards seeing their dreams come true.  And, unfortunately, I see just as many really talented creators whose attitudes are holding them back and keeping them from soaring.

As a publisher of ComixTribe, small-press though we may be, I’m seeing more and more pitches and proposals show up in my inbox. (If you’re thinking about sending something my way, PLEASE read my two columns “What is ComixTribe’s Submissions Policy” and “An Open Rejection Letter” first.)

When I review submissions, yes, I’m certainly looking at the work and asking:

Is it quality?

Could it sell?

Do I know how to sell it?

Can I as a publisher bring value to this project?

But just as big a question I have to ask myself:

Do I want to work with this creator?

Even if I woke up to find absolute comic book gold in my inbox, sent in by the second coming of Alan Moore, with the next generation’s Jim Lee on art, I might still pass.

Because a creator’s attitude and professionalism matter.

I’ve had a few spirited discussions with a number of creators regarding their use of social media, and the impact of one’s online persona.  It’s my view that Twitter is a lousy substitute for therapy, and that the things you say publicly matter.

If you want to create comics, you are trying to be an ENTERTAINMENT PROFESSIONAL.  Twitter and Facebook and YouTube are all public extensions of your brand.  I think it’s important to be cognizant of your public persona.  Are you a passionate creator with a number of promising projects in the works and clearly a talent on the rise?

Or does your online persona suggest something else, entirely?

Look, I get it.  It’s damn HARD to be a creator.  It’s damn HARD, in tough economic times, to eke out a living in this world.  Life CAN suck at times, and you will get knocked down.

The temptation to put all that frustration out there into the internet can be quite strong.  But here’s the thing… I strongly believe that in just about all things, you get back what you give out, often in greater bounty.  It’s just the way the universe works.  The “life is good” and “life is crap” factions of the world are both right.  Because your life is what you make it.

But again, I get it.  There are no shortage of frustrations YOU, Mr. and Mrs. I Wanna Make It In Comics are facing right now:  lack of funds, rejected pitches, disappearing collaborators, creative blocks, skills that don’t seem to be developing… I’ve been through ALL of it.

But guess what?  It doesn’t get any easier. Not really.

As many great things as have happened with ComixTribe in the past couple of months, as many things that I am INCREDIBLY grateful for, there have been just as many setbacks.

But am I going to air that stuff publicly, from a place of anger and frustration?

No, I’m not.  Such setbacks are for me, my partners, and if necessary, a heavy bag to deal with.  And if I DO choose to air such things publicly, in a forum like Comix Counsel, it will be from a place of reflection and ideally with some lessons learned and potential solutions offered.

So, yes, when I’m looking for people to work with, I’m looking at attitude.  Working together to publish comics requires a very close working relationship.  I’m looking for stability and positivity, because what we’re trying to do– build something out of nothing but the ideas in our heads and the passion in our hearts– is damn hard, and probably won’t succeed.

I’ve got an eleven year old girl at home.  Sooner than I’d like, I’m about to have more than enough drama in my life– I’m not about to take on any more by working with creators who are unstable and unable to deal with the ebbs and flows of a cutthroat business.

Thanks once again for reading, and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the forum.

Discuss this Article in the ComixTribe Forums 

 

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Category: Comix Counsel

About the Author ()

Tyler James is a comics creator, game designer, educator, and publisher residing in Newburyport, MA. He is the writer and co-creator of THE RED TEN, a superhero murder mystery, EPIC, a superteen action comedy, and TEARS of the DRAGON, a swords and sorcery fantasy. Tyler is the publisher and co-creator of ComixTribe, which is both a new imprint of quality creator owned titles, and an online community where creators help creators make better comics. Follow him on Twitter @tylerjamescomics, or send him an email at tyler.james@comixtribe.com.

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