Probably until the end of all time, a person’s kindness will always be mistaken for weakness…
Because honestly, you’d think that 316 columns would tell the entire story of one guy’s pursuit of a fully functioning career as a professional comics writer, but sadly, it never will. I have had some fantastic and incredibly rewarding experiences and moments along this now eight-year journey, meeting and interacting with a number of great people who are honest, upfront, and incredibly professional. Many of these situations have gotten a direct mention somewhere along the line, as they’re the kinds of things that keep you moving forward when you inevitably encounter obstacles.
Despite my best efforts, any good I’ve found in this endless quest of mine has been equally matched by the number of people that have deliberately lied to my face or misled me, later “adopted” my ideas after telling me they weren’t quite good enough, or have generally displayed the level of professionalism and decency one would only expect from your average twelve year old.
Obviously, the former ultimately eclipses the latter, but in trying to identify the reasons why I have this incurable habit of being professionally kicked in the teeth a couple times a year, I know that my ability to bite the bullet and shut up about it can’t be particularly helpful in that regard. A bit of learned advice for any hopefuls listening—there are some people out there in your path that know there will be no personal or professional consequences for the things they do, and that you will be the only one to experience any by having the audacity to say them out loud. They know this, and will use it against you as a way of making you disappear and labeling you as “uncooperative” or “difficult.” Certainly not everyone, but if you’re at it long enough, you will eventually encounter them. And there’s no way to stop them, because they’re bigger and more “important” than you, and that’s just the way it is.
It’s the double-edged sword of having a platform like this, and being occasionally handcuffed by it, or as a good friend once told me, “It’s great to shoot someone in the head if you don’t shoot yourself in the foot at the same time.” The internet makes that virtually impossible, so I’ve tried to go out of my way for almost a decade not to give anyone a reasonable excuse to disassociate themselves from me, because there are already more than enough unreasonable ones to chose from. Getting into this business is impossible already, but it can always be made more so at a moment’s notice.
And no matter what impression you ultimately take from any of my columns, one thing is pretty obvious—I want into the business of creating comic books. One of the smartest things I ever did was just coming out and stating this upfront in the first column I ever posted, which trust me, was incredibly important to any amount of “credibility” I hoped to someday amass. On the other hand, that has always made this platform slightly compromised, as there’s always something I want to say, or that I need to say, but yet don’t say because it would be unwise if I said it. Sure, it would feel great in that moment, putting someone on blast that probably deserves it, and people would enjoy seeing it because of our natural attraction to drama and gossip, but no matter what the issue was, it would ultimately make me look bad.
The only time I’ve ever called someone out by name was John Byrne, and that was for using the word ‘nigger’. Anything less than that usually goes unpunished, which naturally leaves a wide spectrum of behavior and perceived slights that people can get away with. But bottom line, I’ve written over 300 columns, and an overwhelming majority of them are incredibly positive and hopeful about both comics, and my potential place among them. And that’s something that’s important to me, because as cathartic as this particular kind of piece is, if I wrote it every week, it would be boring and unsustainable, and would only confirm the stereotype some folks will always hold about me.
Everybody remembers the one piece I wrote however many years ago that hurt their feelings, but those that know better and can do basic math, have to acknowledge that type of aggressive stance has been few and far between since I started in 2001. And that’s the way it’ll going to stay for the foreseeable future, because of all the things I said above, and really, because of all the things I didn’t.
I know what you’re thinking, by the way…man, what the hell inspired all of this? What in the world are you even talking about?
Well, I’ve experienced a series of unpleasant things in the last several months, and a friend suggested that I put them in the column for all the world to see, and this is my answer for why I’m not going to do it. Which is also why it’ll continue to happen over and over again, you see. At the end of the day though, it’s been proven over the years that even if some people want to hold me back, I won’t let them, that if they insist of denying my progress, it won’t last for long, and if they jack my style, well…then there’s more where that came from.
Welcome to Ambidextrous on The Fiction House, ladies and gentlemen. Either love me or leave me alone…