Happily Ever After

I’ve wanted to draw comics all my life, really. The first comics I can remember drawing where more like magazines than comics, though. Put together using carbon paper (remember that? no? you’re too young – here’s a wikipedia article on it) when I was about 8 or 9, usually featuring puzzles and drawings.

When I was 15/16, and wanted to draw comics, information was so scarce on the ground, I had no real idea of how to do it. So I assumed (incorrectly) that comic artists drew everything in a panel, and then cut them out of paper and overlapped them, one on top of the other, to build a scene (it didn’t occur to me that you pencilled and inked and drew through things if needed). It was an intensely laborious process.

Age 18/19 I had met John McCrea and started drawing again, and drew my first proper comic strip.

The whole while though, from age 14 I was working in computers.

People who knew me from my life away from comics know / knew I wanted to draw comics, but I never appeared to pursue it. (Well, pre-interenet, it wasn’t immediately obvious how you pursued  it – leading to many many wrong turns).

So now, I’ve been drawing comics professionally for 3 years and I’m into the happily ever after part of the ‘dream job’ gig.

And it’s bloody hard. No-one really prepares you for that.

Your focus is so concentrated on that magical moment of breaking in, that you’re ill prepared for the idea that, now you’ve broken in, you’ve got to a) find work, b) find time to do the work, c) make sure you can eat, etc. In the job that doesn’t pay particularly well.

I will occasionally talk to people who say “oh wow, you’ve always wanted to do this, you’re living the dream man!”.

And, it’s true, to an extent I am.

But it’s a job, and, to be honest, it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had.

Author: PJ

PJ is a Belfast based comic artist, and has been for some time.

1 thought on “Happily Ever After”

  1. I think, once, the only reason I didn’t rip out the throat of someone who said, “Oh, but that’s not really work, is it?” was that I didn’t have the energy. I was just coming to the end of several months of very intensive work on a strip and had acquired that special blend of mental mania and physical exhaustion that is just so much fun.

    And she meant well, I think. She meant, oh, ‘but at least you’re doing something you love’. Well, sure. But it really is, in so many ways, just a stupid career to choose. Hard, hard work to make stories for a minority readership, with lower than average chances of getting any kind of mainstream appreciation, and all of it for not much money. And I don’t want to sound whiny and ungrateful because I do consider myself to be very lucky indeed. But part of my luck is that I get to write children’s books as the other part of my career, and that’s (a tiny bit) easier, pays (a bit) more, and gets considerably more mainstream recognition.

    So mainly, what I’m saying is: I hear you and amen.

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