[Jimmie Robinson is the creator of The Empty, Five Weapons, Bomb Queen, Amanda and Gunn, Avigon and Evil & Malice, among many other comics. As the below will reveal, he’s a lifer for comics, as well as a creator who has stuck with creating his own vision — including kids comics, women of color as lead characters when these were totally unheard of. As he writes below, this is a tough business sometimes, but in many ways, despite all the problems, it can be the best business. As the week ends, here’s a reminder of why. ]
FACT: I don’t make much money in comics. I only make enough to survive.
However… I still love making comics.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not crying in my beer or anything, this is not a cautionary tale about book sales in the market. In fact, this is the opposite. This is an open love letter to my industry. This is my public declaration of how happy I am, and how much I enjoy what I do… as a career.
Let me unpack that.
In short, I get to stay at home, often in my pajamas, and make the type of comics that I enjoy. Stories, concept, ideas and art based on MY vision and imagination. Just think about that for a second. My life, doing what I love.
I’m over 50 years old now and I’ve seen my fair share of sadness — often looking right back at me in the mirror. I’ve had day jobs that sucked the life out of me, and personal problems that nearly ended me. I know how it is, and I see plenty of people around me still going through things like this at various stages in their lives. It’s a long, hard, and unfair race in this game we call life. But I get to make comics as a living. Trust me, I do NOT take that for granted. I’ve always drawn comics. I’ve always wanted to be an artist.
This is my dream come to life. Who wouldn’t welcome it with open arms?
Sure I’m not getting the big orders like some of my peers. I’ve never cracked 15K in orders on a single issue. But y’know, for me, that’s not the point. I’m what you call “a comics guy”. It’s what I love to do. Even when Hollywood comes knocking (which they do from time to time) I would still make comics. I love the medium. The readers are great. The retail stores work really hard. The convention community is wonderful, and the wealth of publishers creating new content is amazing. In my younger days we didn’t have this open love for the medium. The hobby of collecting and talking about comics was done in secret, in basements and clubs and dark comic shops. Nowadays the entire world knows about the rich world of comics in all forms. It’s great to have survived this long to see the comparison.
And now I’m part of it.
My books aren’t huge sellers, but that’s okay. I worked HARD to get where I am now. My books are out there thanks to Jim Valentino at Shadowline Comics. He has had faith in me when others didn’t. People read them. My books are in a number of languages in several countries. In stores and libraries across the world carrying my voice where I may never step foot — and even after I am dead. Plenty of people hope to make a dent or a scratch while playing this game of life. A lasting mark that says “I was here! I had something to say!” So I count myself as blessed and truly lucky to get that chance. Not just once, but time and again. And my chances continue with each new work I am fortunate enough to get published. So should a man who wins a prize ask for more? I’m not.
So thank you, readers, retailers, publishers, artists who inspire, writers who dream, fans with imagination, and the bloggers who raise their voice. Your input really does matter. Your desire to support good comics really does matter. This is not a one-way street, this is a gathering of like-minded people who enjoy this medium we call comics and pop culture.
Now go fall in love with something.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.