I was drawing some Schlock Mercenary a couple of weeks ago, and was inking General Tagon’s rather square jawline. I remember looking at that line I was making, and suddenly having that disconnected, “where am I and what am I doing here?” feeling. I looked down at the line I was drawing was struck at the absurdity of the thought that folks would PAY me for drawing it. I mean, it was just a LINE, connected to another line. The line itself, seen up close, was scratchy and a little pale — a side effect of using pigment liners until they give up not only the ghost, but also any other malingering spirits in the neighborhood — hardly top-of-the-(ahem)-line stuff.
I pulled back and looked at the whole comic. It wasn’t done yet, and looked, unsurprisingly, very unfinished. Of course, even when I’m done inking my work looks unfinished. I color it to cover that up, as I’ve done since June of 2000. Looking down at it I was struck again by the thought that it wasn’t worth a day’s wage. The math is simple: if I’m going to live off of a daily comic, each daily comic I draw needs to be worth whatever money I have to earn in a day in order to get by, right? These days that’s about $100, and even then that’s with a pretty tight belt. So I looked down at that comic and thought “is that worth $100?”
Now don’t go thinking that I’m having some mid-life crisis, or a failure of faith, or anything like that. I like what I’m doing… no, I LOVE what I’m doing. Even the crassly commercial GWAVAMan is fun. It’s just that sometimes I can’t believe that I AM doing it.
Remember playing with the old “house” legos and making space-ships? This would have been 1978 or so, in my case. The transparent bricks that were the original Lego windows became “dilithium crystals,” (as a 10-year-old in the 70s what other spaceship crystals WERE there?) and every ship needed one. Later on, at age 16 or so, I realized that those crystals were the “Suspension of Disbelief” engines that allowed these funny, boxy ships to look sleek and powerful in the eyes of a 10-year old. Well, I think I need to fasten a transparent lego-brick to my desk somewhere, because this disbelief I experience from time to time certainly could use a good spot of suspending.
Yes, I expect people to pay for that line. This year the rate is $100 per daily collection of lines. Next year I’m doubling it. And people will not only pay, they’ll SMILE as they pay. See this here clear lego? PURE DILITHIUM.