‘Live The Adventure’
Nerdvana presents Small Press Saturday – aka, Lessons Learned Self-Publishing Comics
I am writing this column from New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where I’m one-third into a three week residency with an emphasis on making comics. The mentoring artist, Dean Haspiel, has been one of my cartooning heroes for two decades, and the chance to work with him has been a dream come true. An unexpected benefit of this trip has been meeting my fellow artists — five incredibly passionate people, each with their own skills and projects that are absolutely blowing my mind.
Am I suffering a bit of imposter syndrome? Absolutely. A few minutes every day, I wonder if my little Arizona superhero comics stack up in the grand scheme of things. Those minutes are very fleeting, though, because I quickly remember that those little Arizona superhero comics got me here. Somebody in the application process for this residency saw something in their philosophy and execution that warranted my place for this opportunity, and I will not take that for granted.
One of my fellow artists here said something the other day at dinner that struck me, and I’m running with it. In fact, I’m adding what she said to my list of mantras — one of many I’ve gleaned from the past week, already. When discussing our journeys to this residency, she said, “As artists, it’s part of our job to live the adventure others wish they were having.” In short —
Live the adventure.
Of course, “adventure” is a subjective measure. When we think of the rock star life, we presume it’s rife with adventure — the “life on the road!” — but, inevitably, the music betrays a road WEARINESS. “They say that the road ain’t no place to start a family,” Journey famously crooned. Constant touring creates a bubble in which the only thing the artist makes is stuff ABOUT touring. One man’s adventure is another man’s routine.
“Adventure” doesn’t demand exotic geography or physical exhaustion. “Adventure” could be as simple as driving a different way home from work, or trying a new restaurant, or watching a movie on Netflix you wouldn’t normally pick. Adventure is just trying something different in pursuit of inspiration. That’s why most people AREN’T adventurous. They aren’t afraid of tropical climate or deep sea diving — they’re afraid of doing anything different.
So, to play this definition to its natural conclusion, art is, in part, a chronicle of the adventures we artists have been on. It’s our distinct duty to share the stories we’ve experienced, in an effort to inspire others to pursue stories of their own. Yet, despite art’s proliferation in culture — through cinema, music, literature, theater, and on and on — most folks remain mere “audience,” making the job of the artist all the more important — and unique.
It’s been hard for me to talk about this residency experience because I haven’t wanted to sound like a braggart. I mean, I’m in Florida with an Emmy-award winning cartoonist I’ve long admired, working exclusively on comics. If I can get here with my little Arizona comics, YOU can get here, wherever your equivalent of HERE is. Break yourself, and do something different. The question isn’t how — trust me, once you’ve made up your mind, the logistics fall into place. Rather, the question is the one I’ve been asking myself now for days:
“WHY? Why didn’t I do this SOONER?!”