If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’ve occasionally beat myself up for not getting serious about my art when I was younger. The theme of wasting time and goofing off and not working hard enough has been a theme that has popped up more often than I probably realize. I used to believe that this…well, self-hatred might be too strong of a term but let’s go with it, was fueling me and keeping me driven to do great comics now and to work hard and be the best cartoonist possible to maybe make up for lost time. I’ve lamented that if I had taken this route twenty years ago, I might have a different life and maybe I’d have…oh, I don’t know, a book deal, a comic strip, a cartoon maybe.
I was thinking about this the other day and thought “well, that’s stupid.” I realized that I don’t need to waste that mental energy hating on myself. I am driven anyway. I am committed to doing good comics regardless of whether or not I hating on myself. I realized that this frustration doesn’t benefit me. At all. Not even a little. So, I need to let it go.
And I did. It was easy.
I started to think about why I thought I wasted all these years. I tried to think about just exactly what I was doing over the last two decades and what, exactly, I wasted.
Today I am forty. Twenty years ago I was living in Alaska. I moved back the year after. It was an adventure. I’ve had a lot of jobs and experiences that shaped me and my work, particularly Uptown Girl. I drew a lot of pictures and taught myself how to draw by drawing a million horrible drawings. I fell in love, had my heart broken and fell in love again. I made a lot of friends. I got married, had kids and bought a house. I played video games, read books, got inspired to make comics after reading comics, got in shape, went to Asia and Europe and Iowa, started making comics, met fans who became my friends, submitted a cartoon to Cartoon Network, got rejected by Cartoon Network and dozens of book publishers. Learned how to not make a children’s book, how not to make a comic book by making a hundred of them, how to make a comic book by making a hundred of them, how to make a graphic novel by making a hundred comic books and how to be a dad.
I did other stuff but that’s the bulk of it. I think of all the drawing stuff I learned and how it has lead to what I do now and how that work and those lessons learned are paying off with the final Uptown Girl book and The Retros. I think of the family stuff and being a dad and how that’s the most important part of my life.
I guess looking back it’s hard to think of the last twenty years as wasted time. I am happy I can live and draw without beating myself up and really enjoy drawing without that voice getting to me.