A few posts back, I said I'd turn my attention to a couple of myths
perpetuated about me. True to my word, here's the first one.
What's your working environment like? Do you get on with all
of your colleagues, or do some of them really get on your t*ts? What
about the manager? Nice guy or total @rsehole, with a bad attitude and a
face you'd never get tired of punching? Think it's any different in the won-
derful world of comics? Then think again, Charlie! Unlike the MARVEL
BULLPEN image created by STAN LEE (and replicated by ALF, BART
& COS for the ODHAMS GARRETT), not everyone is loveable, or
honourable - or even, believe it or not, the best person suited for
the position in which they're employed.
their jobs, but also really nice, decent, human beings. I won't embarrass
anyone by naming them (from either category), but there are some folk in
comics who really make it a sheer pleasure to work with or for them. Un-
fortunately, however, there is also the usual contingent of idiots who don't
have a scooby, and are unpleasant, surly, spiteful, resentful - and don't
really deserve to be on the planet, never mind in their jobs.
of the type that many comics folk will be all too familiar with. I once
freelanced for a company that was terrible at paying their contributors in
a timely fashion. (They hadn't always been, but things had deteriorated.)
So tardy were they, that they actually sent out letters of apology (which I
still have) and increased the page rates by way of compensation. How-
ever, as they never managed to improve the speed at which they paid,
it resulted only in contributors having to wait just as long for
higher amounts than previously.
was at risk. For the first time in my life, I had to get overdrafts from
the bank - not to eat or pay the rent, but just, on the odd occasion, to
return jobs on the date required by. Although the company was supposed
to pay within 30 days, I often found myself waiting two or three months to
be paid the full amount for several strips from a single week's work. I wasn't
the only one of course, but I probably found it more difficult because, having
no other source of income (like a partner's wages) coming into the house
apart from my freelance commissions,, if I wasn't paid within a reason-
able time, I simply had little or no money to meet the demands of
having to send large packages to London on a regular basis.
quid in a week for a few strips for the same company, I might get paid
for one strip in a month's time (usually took about six weeks in fact), but I
wouldn't get paid for another strip (returned on the same day) for another
four to six weeks after that - and this would be repeated for each job until I
was paid in full. In theory, I was earning a fortune, but because I was being
paid in instalments, it took ages to get my hands on the complete amount.
(Even when the company later changed from cheques to a direct
transfer system, it only seemed to make things worse.)
an overdraft because every time I'd assured them that money would
be in my account on a certain day, it never was, despite me having been
assured that it would be. On one occasion, I even had to ask an editor
to 'phone my bank and convince them that a cheque was on its way, so
that they'd advance me cash to return a job. (As well as the post,
I sometimes used RED STAR, which could be costly.)
An overdue cheque I'd been waiting on (this was before the transfer
system had been adopted ) had still not turned up. I needed the money
to return a job for which the deadline was looming in a few days. (It was
all wrapped up and ready to send.) I 'phoned the editor and asked him if
he would chase up my cheque for me, because if it failed to arrive, I just
didn't know how I was going to be able to return it on time. As it turned
out, the cheque arrived either the very next morning or the day after
(having already been in transit), and I was able to return the
job a day or two before deadline with no fuss.
editor (a smug b*st*rd who wasn't well-liked - either by colleagues or
freelancers) was spreading it about that not only had I threatened to
withhold the job 'til I was paid, but had actually done so. I think I first
learned of this when I was at a comic mart in Glasgow, and whilst chatting
with a group of contributors to various publications, was asked about this
apparently well-known ('though not by me) 'legend' that had been doing the
rounds in the comics community. Now, remember, not only had I never
threatened to withhold the work (expressing a concern over being able
to is quite a different thing), but it had been returned well before
deadline and hadn't been delayed for a second.
expressed my opinion about his disregard for the facts - should I ever
find it, I'll post it here. I was once told that whenever a particular group
of former staff meet up, he isn't invited. When I asked why, the answer
was "Because he's a c**t!" That's not a word I like or even use,
but even I have to admit that it sums him up perfectly.
how great it would be to work in the comics industry, it's really no
different than any other job when it comes to the people you'll meet
and 'rub shoulders' with. If you ever make it, you'll find out for
yourself, sure enough. Try not to be put off!
But don't go into it thinking it's going to be a bed of roses either.