Hello, Blog@Newsarama readers. This is the first of a new monthly feature, the new “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now,” a series of cartoons and short essays about life in independent comics. My life, specifically. I’m the editor-in-chief of the independent comics publisher Slave Labor Graphics (SLG, as we prefer). That company, founded by the gentleman pictured in panel two (images are courtesy of my husband, artist Brian Belew), has been around for more than twenty years. I’ve been around — at least as far as comics are concerned — for seven years. This is my introduction, my “origin story,” of sorts.
A lot of people ask me how to get a job in comics, and I really don’t have a helpful answer to that question. Though it was a relatively easy process for me, I didn’t get to the position I’m in now on purpose. I began as an editorial assistant at SLG, scanning art, laying out comics and writing press releases. By the sheer force of my showing up regularly and doing what I was supposed to, I was promoted to editor-in-chief a year and a half later. It occurs to me that the “in chief” part of my title is mostly an honorary formality, since I’m the only editor at the company, but it still looks impressive on a business card. What do I do? I help find new projects, work with artists to develop the those we are publishing, and, well, I still lay out comics and write press releases, too. I try not to scan artwork anymore — like everybody everywhere I hate scanning artwork — but sometimes it still falls to me.
My job in comics is some sort of cosmic rebalancing, I think. In a previous life, I must have made too much money in a soul-deadening industry, maybe in petrochemicals or a company that makes the little plastic things that keep pizzas from sticking to the top of the delivery box. But the joke’s on karma, if that’s the case. Sure, working in the comic book industry means you have an even chance of being poor, suffering from a defensive inferiority complex, and taking up the drink, but that’s probably true of any profession. At least I’m having fun. For now, anyway.
By the way, now that I’ve gotten to know Dan, the Oscar Wilde comment doesn’t exactly make sense, but it’s a lot less baffling than it was at the time.
(Lyrics in this cartoon are from the song by The Smiths from which I’ve taken the title.)