Saturday, May 2, 2015

Reflection #15/40

We’ve spent most of 2015 getting the house ready to sell. This has involved going through our belongings and getting rid of some things and packing up others.

A few months ago I was sorting through the binders full of hand-drawn comics that I kept in a bookshelf in my bedroom. I have drawn many, many comics over the years. And, as I looked through these binders, I had an epiphany.

For years I was jealous of Robert Kirkman. Really, really jealous. You remember Robert Kirkman . . . I talked about him in Reflection #5. He was a guy who worked at my local comic book store, who was roommates with my friend Steve. He wanted to make comics professionally; I wanted to make comics professionally. Back in 1999, I would have thought I had a better shot at making it.

But Kirkman self-published a comic called Battle Pope, and then got a gig writing a Super-Patriot mini-series for Image, and then did work for Marvel, and got his own Image comic, Invincible, and then another Image series called Walking Dead. And before you knew it, he was the CEO of Image Comics, and, you may have heard about this, they made a TV show based on the Walking Dead.

Kirkman and I started out in the same place—we were both nobodies in Lexington, Kentucky, who wanted to break into the comics industry. We both had a certain amount of experience writing comics. The different between us was that Kirkman had a whole lot more drive and ambition than I did. He climbed his way to the top, and became a massively influential figure, while I . . . hung out and, you know, occasionally self-published some mini-comics.

For years I blamed myself. If only I had worked harder, like Kirkman, I could have been a success. I could have at least gotten published. Looking through my collected body of work, though, I realized something. None of this stuff would have ever been popular. The ideas I have tend to be weird and non-commercial. Even if I had worked hard, when I was younger, and aggressively pushed the comics I worked on, none of them would have ever really taken off.

Robert Kirkman is not a hack; he stays true to himself, and writes what he wants to write. It just so happens that what he wants to write coincides with what millions of people want to read. When I’ve stayed true to myself, my comics have been wildly unappealing to a mass audience. Once I realized this, it was strangely liberating.

Not as commerical as The Walking Dead.


  1. I really like this reflection a lot.

  2. Thanks! Jealousy of Robert Kirkman has been an important part of my life.