Ambidextrous 317- Mr. Nice Guy

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…

B

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Ambidextrous 317- Mr. Nice Guy

  1. Nightwing77

    Read your stuff at Newsarama and always enjoyed the column! Glad to know I can follow it here!

  2. Hey Brandon,

    Been following your columns for… well, long enough to remember when Comics Bulletin was still a shade of Silver and All the Rage existed under Blair’s pen. So it’s good to see you’re still going at it in both the column (sans Newsarama) and your comic work.

    Reading this particular entry I couldn’t help but agree with you. This industry is so damned small that when you’re coming up and paving your way, bad and downright unpleasant behaviour – no matter how small – can have an effect and sometimes acting on this growing sh*tlist only creates more problems because we’re still trying to make a name for ourselves, while the aggressor, usually already entrenched within the industry, can afford to sling mud back knowing their word is likely to hold more weight at this stage.

    I’ve come across this mercifully few times in the games industry (and as of yet, not in the comics industry as I’ve not been in that game for long enough to feel that particular bite – thankfully I’m working with really nice people right now) and those few times have been enough. I started to use them as inspiration for antagonists in my stories… wonderfully cathartic. And also the perfect pub story when asked “what the hell made you come up with a character nastier than Hitler’s bunker underwear?”

    Always someone ready to hold you back, be negative, idiotic and plain childish.

    But hell, that’s just going to make it all the sweeter when you rise above it all in success, right?

    Keep on the grind, man – it’ll all be worth it.

    C.

    • Thanks man, it’s been a long road to get here, but the work is far from done. I’ve certainly encountered more good than bad along the way, and ultimately that’s what has to keep you moving forward. The support is much appreciated, and don’t be a stranger.

      B

  3. Brandon,

    Hey man, sorry to say I wasn’t one of your followers over at Newsarama, but found your site from a post by David Brothers at 4th Letter.

    I just read this entire site at work today (yeah, I have one of those jobs) and really dig your writing. Consider me a fan from this point forward.

    Justin
    13 Minutes
    thirteenminutes.blogspot.com

    • Thanks man, that’s really cool to hear, and another favor that I owe David. Hoping that the material will only grow stronger as I get more settled into things, so stay tuned. Working on the next installment of This is Why as we speak, and depending on the final length, it’ll be split into two (or three!) chapters. Great to have you onboard.

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