Inevitably, if you’ve ever had a job at a comics company, you’ve had an experience where someone asked you what you did for a living. Before the Simpson’s made Comic Book Guy famous, before comic book movies were known as box office blockbusters, before Entertainment Weekly even existed (let alone ran reviews of graphic novels), most people only associated comics with either Richie Rich or the Adam West-Batman television show.
Back in those days, many professionals fell back on, “I work in publishing” or “I work at a magazine publisher” and hoped the questions ended there. I remember very clearly telling my future father-in-law (this would have been sometime in 1981) that I planned to pursue a career publishing comic books. He tried to put up a brave front, but the blood drained from his face. Clearly his mind had fixated on the abject poverty that his daughter would have in her future if she married the “comics” guy.
Even today, if you can proudly tell family, new friends and strangers that you work in the comic book industry, you probably get the same response, “Well, that must be fun … “
The unfortunate truth is that on a day-to-day basis, having a non-creative or semi-creative job in the comics business is like most other office jobs: struggling to make office equipment work properly, negotiating with difficult customers, haggling with finicky suppliers, desperately trying to make unrealistic deadlines set by your boss and dealing with the peculiar office and personal habits of your co-workers. Fun very seldom entered into it.
When it is your job, you tend to take very seriously the issues surrounding your career and the industry in which you work. Sometimes it is easy to lose perspective, especially when what you do is viewed by the outside world at best frivolously and at worst with open contempt.