1541 The Choices We Make.
Everyone makes little choices like this all the time, and they are what separates the people who make great works from the people who think they could. The amount you have to give up is directly proportional to how much of yourself something will take to do. Sometimes what would be very little for one person to give up will be much more for someone else. For me it’s what people would call a normal life. I pour so much of myself into this, since I’ve never been very good at it so it takes me longer than it should, that I can’t have it and other things like relationships. But I made that choice and can’t blame anyone else for wanting to make this instead of having a family to look after me when I’m old. I think that what I make is my best possible contribution to the improvement of life for other people. I may be wrong, but that’s what I’m willing to risk.
I know so many people who could write amazing books, make comics, sculpt, write movies, or whatever… But they can’t or won’t give up something that keeps them from doing it. Which is not an indictment. For many of them the things they would have to sacrifice are enormous; things like family bonds, security, love. I see them lamenting the squandering of their talents, but I also hear them worrying about their siblings, planning for the future, and doing the things that they judge as more important than their crafts. Every person has to make those decisions for themselves. They have to ask what the greatest good is for their futures. Sometimes the stakes are not quite so high. Sometimes it comes down to wanting to play another game of Overwatch more than sitting down and hammering out a drawing. In my case I’ve got a stack of incomplete games versus a few thousand pages of the best I could do.
I think there’s a case to be made that I choose poorly. There are certainly people who think I’ve wasted my time and have made that belief very clear to me. I wonder sometimes if the reason they tell me this isn’t so much a deficiency in my work as much as guilt about not trying to make something themselves. They judged writing pages about why I shouldn’t be making a comic more important than making something themselves. Pulling down a house is hard, but it’s still easier than putting one up.
I’ve also got a theory about why people in Hollywood seem so out of touch with the people they make movies for. Basically, when you spend your life creating stuff like that you loose time for dicking around with stuff that regular people take for granted. On my small scale I have only a passing knowledge of the latest trends in popular culture. I know Overwatch is a thing, but I don’t know what system it’s for, I don’t know what anime is popular, I don’t know what’s happening in mainstream comics. I can’t afford to find out in most cases because of lack of time and lack of money. Which is why the longer I go along the more dated all my references become. I am no longer part of culture the way I was when I wasn’t making anything. And that’s on me. I’m so bad at making this comic that I can’t keep up with things. Getting sick and falling behind has only compounded things. I’ve never felt more disconnected to popular culture in my life, and it’s very unpleasant for someone who has basically connected with other people through popular culture his whole life.
Anyway… If you’ve ever wanted to make something think about this the next time you pick up a controller, or whatever. The window of creativity does not stay open forever.
Okay, okay I’ll finally get off my ass and write the great American novel! Sheesh!
It’s about damn time.
I dunno. I’ve had a stroke, a divorce and an empty nest. I guess maybe that’s why I can now get back to designing games as a hobby, with a little writing and editing on the side (besides my full-time job). My window of creativity closed while having to support a family, but it seems to have re-opened. At least for me.
Anyone else have something similar happen?
When you say designing games what exactly do you mean?
Board games. Card games. Board/card games, really. Right now I’m working on a couple board/card RPGs. I tried making computer games, but they take more time and effort than I want to put in anymore. And hard-drive crashes tended to wipe out my progress (since I was too lazy/poor/resource deprived to make adequate backups).
The last couple pages and follow-ups have come at an interesting crossroads for me, a lot to consider from a perspective I would have not been aware of. Thank you.
You’re welcome. I wish you luck whatever choices you make.
This situation here is hitting uncomfortably close to home, right now.
The only difference is that I’m not being told this by an attractive busty female ginger friend. :Y
Such is the nature of fiction…
Yeah, and the voices in my head aren’t nearly so good looking.
Lucky you. The voices in my head come from a trio of perfectionist hamsters who love to point out my mistakes.
I can definitely relate to this struggle of finding the right work balance in life. In my case I’ve sacrificed relationships to pursue education and a career, and I’ve sacrificed free time for pursuing hobbies, although none of the hobbies, e.g. drawing webcomics or composing music, have ever amounted to anything (I think that, if I had ever viewed my hobbies as actual jobs then those paths may have been more fruitful). Instead, I put them on the side to focus on my studies.
I’m hoping that once I graduate and find a good paying job that it’ll all be worthwhile, although I do lament that I’ve fallen behind in pop culture and video games. I remember watching some ‘top 10 best video games of 2015’ videos and thinking ‘I haven’t even played 10 new video games in 2015, and many of the games I did play came out in earlier years.’ Splatoon and Undertale were really the only new games I got last year. If nothing else, I’d like to find a job that isn’t so draining of my free time so I can pursue other things.
Carol is paraphrasing a cross between the Law of Equivalent Exchange from Fullmetal Alchemist and Renton Thurston’s motto from Eureka 7: Psalm of the Planets.
You’re highlighting your era of anime (the Toonami era, a good choice to be sure.)
I only know the first of those things. But my dad has said this stuff since I was little. It took a long while for me to get it though.
Yeah, “Output is proportional to input” and “Don’t beg, reach for it” is some pretty sage advice that’s hard to appreciate until you have a few years on you.
Being unemployed, I’m at this weird, but familiar, place where I have moderately disposable time again and I couldn’t escape these mantras if I tried. I just hope the work I’m putting towards stuff will pay off some how because the stakes are so much higher than they were before.
Not to cry into my tea, but thanks. Thanks for that, I think we all needed that reminder.
Remember theater critic Kenneth Tynan’s quote: “A critic is a man who knows the way but can’t drive the car.” It’s always easier to find fault with someone else’s work than to come up with your own.
Thank you. It´s that “simple”, that the rationale behind of it simply flies under our radar in our everyday lives. Sometimes it´s good to take a moment and stop to look around in our free time (as measly as it can be) : “Is this what I really want to be doing right now?”. Of course, that would bomb out paper-thin excuses… which in most cases is awkwardly uncomfortable to our psyche :P . But somehow, being able to question oneself to that point is liberating, in a way.
I like Thomas a lot. He knows what´s wrong, he´s damn smart and sassy, but in the end, he needed that pointer from his girlfriend, a person that´s somehow also driven, but compassionate enough to remind him of that in a constructive way. Being smart doesn´t save us from bad habits, or mental blocks. Lucky dude, he is.
Don´t stop. Your comic has a quality of its own, it´s one of the few ones in the internet that actually do have rounded, relatable characters that also are completely believable, while still sending a message. It´s also a reminder that high artistry and sophisticated sophistry (in plots) don´t give anything to the reader, but empty escapism. Okay, it´s entertainment, but yours give something way way more nutritive. It´s worth reading. Don´t ever, ever have anyone say you otherwise. Your hard work shows there.
“Being smart doesn´t save us from bad habits, or mental blocks.”
Nope. Sometimes it causes them.
Hmm. Never said otherwise. But yes, sometimes being smart doesn’t mean “practical”. Thankfully, you don’t need an extreme IQ to make it into the world. Most of the time, it’s a mix of stubborness (in pretty words, drive), resilience, awareness and, mostly, a will to learn openly from oneself’s mistakes. That’s a trait pretty much achievable for anyone who cares enough to be an autonomous person. But perhaps it’s not about being smart, it’s about being driven. And a confidence built and tested over the years.
By the way, Carol’s past explains a lot of her insight. She’s learned enough to understand her own mistakes, and she has sweated a lot to get on her own feet. She is smart because she has learned to be. Thomas had a more sheltered lifestyle, and took his intelligence for granted, without developing the emotional tools to handle its wits and putting that in use to pursue his own true goals. Instead he settled (true, his ex has a part on that, but it was his choice) for less, and used his genius in manipulating coworkers out of boredom. He knows this, and FEELS crippled for it. The truly terriffying thing about being smart is that we can make lame-ass excuses like sound ones. Even if those are irrational feelings. He was scared of proving others ( in another place, out of his own control zone) that he had something of worth. In another words, he lacked confidence and didn’t know how to handle it. A common issue with a lot of smart people. They are too much conscious of themselves (and their own possibilities) and set themselves for failure. Most of them wish that emotional maturity were a subject teached in highschool, and easily aprehended like it were in a student’s hand book. Heh.
*looks at the wall of text*
Damnit, I got carried again…
To obtain you have to give. That is alchemy’s first law. It’s true in the real world to.
Truer word were never spoken… Also, (in my opinion) your sacrifices are not in vain. :)
Whether the decisions are small or large, whether we are deciding whether we are going to spend the next hour reading comics, or drawing one, or whether we are going to apply for a better job even if it means we have to leave a place we have established ourselves and made friends, are all decisions we have to make ourselves.
We have to choose what we do. People who only criticise other peoples failings and lament others’ successes have made their choice to be whiners, rather than improve their own lives. It’s that simple.
You have made your choice to make comics, and despite not currently rolling in fifties, you have nevertheless made a reasonable living from that. Ain’t nothing wrong with that, Jackie :)
Did you hear that? The sleeper has been woken. Now you will know what TRUE power is!
Know this, and tremble!
Comes the Dawn (oh, wait, that was an earlier episode). I think Thomas is about to get off his @$$ and make some progress in his life. @Jackie, you may have to change the title of the strip!
I made a lot of sacrifices to get where I am today. I gave up two relationships, friends from former jobs, and a lot of sleep.
I have a novel and a screenplay sitting on my home computer. A longish short story languishes, unfinished, on a website. Do I have a writer’s block? What I have is ADHD and OCD, which are like “Rock’em Sock’em Robots” for your brain. Every time I open a Word file for one of these, the OCD wants to go over it again and again, polishing and polishing and polishing and accomplishing nothing new. The language of the novel has become so beautiful that it’s attenuated — it’s going to need a brutal editor to bring it back down to earth (although the Kitsune has said she’ll help). The ADHD lets me start writing new material, but it gets distracted by ooh, shiny!
For what it’s worth, sir, what you lack in “flash” you more than make up for in substance. You have an enviable skill for processing complex thoughts and emotions and issuing them from the mouths of relatable characters so that they sound natural and intuitive for the reader. Whether or not anyone agrees with me, this is not a feat which is easily accomplished, and far more “successful” authors, cartoonists and other professionals do not have your command of language and philosophy.
You should be proud of your work.
On a more personal note, from a certain perspective, I feel like Carol is directing those comments at me. As several others have mentioned, those are familiar words to me, both from a self-realization standpoint and from family, friends and even complete strangers. Understanding one’s talents and skills early on, and not ignoring them, is a boon when choosing the most fulfilling paths to take in your life. Having the courage to pursue that which doesn’t just make you happy and satisfy your basic needs, but also lets you contribute as a productive member of society in general, is probably more uncommon than most people would believe.
So, for what it’s worth coming from a stranger, thank you for sticking with your storytelling, Jackie. Even if you haven’t achieved fame and fortune, you make a difference in the lives of a number of those who read your comic, sometimes more than you will ever know. Thank you.
My glasswork tools are in another state. Stop making me feel guilty for not working on stuff.
Have to geek out for a moment. Today’s comic number is the same as the Famous Commodore 64 Floppy Drive. http://i.imgur.com/4l71wzT.jpg
Love the Carol and Thomas dynamic. And I agree with the point here. Only so many hours in a day, and sometimes hobbies/work/dreams/relationships can be tough to balance.
Yeah, and I waste too much time reading comics other than BF.
Just spent past two days reading their story from the beginning. I found a new love. Especially great since I’ve been waiting for all the new seasons of my shows. Sounds silly but this has really inspired me. Hopefully I can make use of it. We will see. Really jealous of The relationships too. Thank you for the story. Have something to look forward too.
And there I am, all caught up. Glad to have read this series from the beginning. Looking forward to seeing what happens next!
Need this as a motivational poster. “Shut up and work, asshole.”
I just wanted to drop a quick word of appreciation and encoragement. This comic has really spoken to me and my situation lately, and I just wanted to say thanks for making this comic. At certain times, it really helps to know I’m not the only person thinking the way I think ( if that’s not too vague ).
And I disagree with those who say this is a waste, mainly because there has been a payoff, even if said payoff is just an internet fanbase. Sometimes we can pour everything we have into something, extending ourselves beyond our limits for the sake of our objective, then the floor falls out from under us and we end up having to live out our nightmare scenarios. All that to say, by mere merit of this endeavor not leaving you desolate and with no idea of how to recover, it can be considered a success.
I hope you keep creating this comic, updating it at whatever pace fosters optimal growth of your talent.
All the Best,
dontcha just hate it when you notice typos immediately after posting :P
I almost never do. I let other people notice for me.
Thank you Jackie. All joking aside, this is something I’ve needed to hear for a long time. Thank you for that.
I find it surprising that anyone could see this comic as useless or uninteresting. It’s provincial, sure, and that makes it seem unimportant. It lacks the grand heroes and epic adventures of other stories. There’s no hidden backstory to the world, no killer robots, no magic and no fiendish plots. It’s actually quite plain.
But to me, that’s where the meaning of this comic is. I may have learned my lessons a lot faster than you or Thomas, but they were things I had to learn all the same. I see this comic as a show of respect for people in general. An appreciation of the values and ambitions that drive people to do the things they do. An acknowledgement that all people have minds, and that they *use* them. That’s why I think this comic is beautiful, a work of art – not because it’s so grand, but because it’s so tiny and unimportant.
With that said, learn to shade dammit! It’s not actually that hard and it makes you look like a Real Artist if you know how to properly replicate lighting!
Really great page!
It’s hard to get a large reader base online, but the one’s who stick are true fans, for whom the the whole comic matters.
As you put it on the page, what you get out of it, beside fame, vibes, contentment, struggle, and grace, is appreciation of aesthetics, a sense of accomplishment, and understanding – to a certain extent you are ready to accept. The last three are highly valued and addictive feelings that surpass most others that people are striving for, even such as can be provided by partners in life sometimes. That’s the daily choice. The overall work built through each piece at a time is an entirely different thing. It reaches value for people through accumulated experiences, like short-term joy from entertainment, but also change and growth. The value of the work is purely subjective. Neither the bad comments, nor the good ones can change its value for you, except if you accept somebody else’s value proposition or the feeling associated. So, I am with Carol on the emotional side, as well, the choice is yours: Feel miserable or feel happy, be critical and OK with it, or choose to blissfully ignore the shortcomings, you may find it rewarding to struggle through or not.
As for validation: You are doing a truly magnificent job! Gratefulness (check), made people’s day (check), made people think, comment, and care (check).
Hey, I’ve been following this comic for about two years now, and after this panel and the attached musings, I have to tell you:
This comic has got me through some pretty rough places. Your work has been the thing that has brought me back to reality many times in the past, so I thank you very much for all the work you have done, and I’m sorry I couldn’t put this more eloquently.
This. So much this. Every hipster looking for a handout needs to read this. Except they would just read it and then whine about how it’s too hard or something like that.