Comic Problems #4: Quit my Day Job for Comics?
By Hervé St-Louis
Mar 13, 2016 - 4:45
Question: Should I quit my day time job and devote all my time, efforts and energy to making my comics?
Answer: That’s a tough one! It’s a problem that not just comic creators ask. Many start-ups founders, small business operators and artists often ask. Should I turn my back on a well-paying job in order to develop the project that keeps me awake at night and invest my best in this venture. The saying goes, you can’t be half-pregnant.
Personally, I’ve done both at different parts of my life. I’ve abandoned a well-paying job in an animation studio way back in 2001 to create my own, Toon Doctor. I had taken a two-month break from my day job to get an intensive business certificate at a university. The day I came back, I quit my day time job before lunch. I had not planned on quitting my day job. But coming back to the old routine was tough. Although all was fine with the folks I worked with, I had progressed and changed. I couldn’t go back. So I quit before lunch and went on to create my own start-up animation studio.
Today, the situation is different. I like my current occupation. I like creating Johnny Bullet every week. I wish I could draw more Johnny Bullet but I can’t. I’m a researcher working on his doctoral dissertation. It’s a cool job. There is no way I’m quitting this for Johnny Bullet. Johnny Bullet will just have to wait and be limited to one new page a week, which by any standard, is a great achievement for someone so busy.
But why was I so willing to quit my job in 2001 and not in 2016? Well, as I wrote above, I had not planned on quitting at all. My idea for Toon Doctor wasn’t even fully formed. But I could not stay in the same job and had to leave just a few hours after coming back. My point is that when it’s time to go, it’s time. No amount of reasoning will change your mind. You’ll just walk off and just follow your dreams, even if they are vague. Well, at least for me.
If you are thinking too much about it and you worry about money, supporting your family and paying a mortgage, then you are not ready to leave and pursue a venture like creating comics full time.
Some argue that you should have work lined up for you and income possibilities the day you quit to mitigate risk. I disagree. Ventures are risks. You may fail. If you are not willing to take risks, forget your venture. The comic industry is not an easy one from which to gainfully earn a living. If you play it safe, that’s when the frustrations about wanting to leave and pursue your own venture get in the way of performing your day job well.
When that happens, pursuing your venture always seems like the better escape. It’s a sexier proposition. The daytime job becomes a burden. And that’s when you start making mistakes and sabotage your well-paying job.
The problem is that you may want to leave your regular job for the wrong reasons. What you really seek is an escape and not the thrill and hardship of creating a new venture like a comic book from scratch. You might be better off changing day time jobs completely or just taking a pause on your side venture to rediscover what it is about your job that’s fulfilling. The appeal of quitting all for a dream may disappear if you deal with the source of frustration located elsewhere in your life.
Other times, side ventures allow you to earn good money. There are possibilities to earn more money if it becomes a full time job. This is a different situation. Here, the problem is not about pursuing a venture but improving one that already exists. Here, it’s about money mainly and not dreams.
If I worked on Johnny Bullet full time, I doubt that I would improve the business end of the comic within six-months. I have no business plan for the comic today. I could produce more pages, but that’s not a plan. That’s a process. Being able to do more of the same thing without a strategy is not a serious reason to quit my research. Make sure that what you aspire to do has something to do with a plan, a goal. Being able to draw more is not a goal. It’s a process. How will that improve your life as a working professional?
If you say that your plan is to draw comics for publishers or release your first comic using the free time gained from quitting your day job, then that’s a plan in a way. But having more time to draw and release more pages, that’s a process. Quit your daytime job if you have a plan, not to satisfy and perform a process.
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