Noah van Sciver is one of our fine young male cartoonists, with The Hypo (recommended!), Saint Cole and Fante Bukowski among others. He’s working on a graphic novel about Johnny Appleseed and living in White River Junction as a CCS fellow. His work veers between historical and semi autobiographical, but you can probably put together a recent biography via some of his online comics. He’s done two Cartoonist Diaries for TCJ.com for instance, and the first saw him setting up a home with a girlfriend, hanging curtains and watching Buffalo 66. The latter did not find favor with the GF, and now we find van Sciver living at the Hotel Coolidge in WRJ and living the fairly ascetic and isolated life of the comics acolyte in Vermont, as seen above.
Side note: Guys, if you want to get with a woman, do not make her watch Buffalo 66. I repeat, do not watch Buffalo 66 with your woman. I know you think Vincent Gallo is really cool and edgy and it’s a romantic film about vengeance and attraction, but it’s really about a dangerous psychopath made by a serial abuser who imagines a toxic fantasy of a willing female victim. It is total creepsville plus everyone misses a field goal now and then, just like Jeurys Familia gives up a home run once a year and it happens to be in the World Series.
Oh where was I?
Anyway, yes Noah van Sciver. Over on his blog he delivers one of those periodic truth bombs about making it in comics called There Is No Short Cut. and this one deals primarily with the indie cartoonists life so it is heavy on the hard, hard work:
#1 DRAW COMICS
You say that you want to be a comic artist. Look at yourself. How much do you draw? Do you have a sketchbooks that you fill up? Be honest with yourself; Do you even actually enjoy drawing? Is it something that you would do even if you had to give up your dream of being a professional comic artist who was rich?
In my own experience a lot of folks will just spend years drawing splash pages and wordless action scenes with strong men fighting each other, or dragons or something. Maybe they’ll have a bunch of character design pages with characters that are just their own versions of some Marvel or DC character. They’ll work for years filling up a portfolio that they can bring around to shows and pester working artists or editors with.
None of them could just be honest with themselves about what they are capable of. Maybe you are great at drawing. But how long does it take you to draw the minimum 24 pages? Is it extremely difficult to do for you? If drawing 24 pages of a story is too hard then you don’t have what it takes. For God’s sake think about it: if drawing is so hard and time consuming for you then why the fuck do you think you want to be a professional comic artist? What’s wrong with you? You wouldn’t know what to do with the job if they gave it to you, right?
Van Sciver’s take on this is the sort of thing you’d expect from a guy who lives in a weird old hotel and spends all his days drawing Johnny Appleseed but he’s about 90% correct. This life is not for the faint of heart.
BTW, The Hypo is about a true phase of young Abraham Lincoln’s life where he went to a small town as a lawyer and lived a fairly monastic life that could easily be a cartoonist in White River Junction. Prophecy.
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.