Comparison Can Kill You.
I compare myself to others and it’s one of my worst flaws, personally and professionally.
That person’s house is bigger and nicer than mine. Their yard looks better. That person is better looking and in better shape than me. This person’s been doing comics for only a few years and has skyrocketed to fame. They make more money than me. That person has a bigger audience than me. And in every one of these comparisons I come to the same, horrible conclusion…
Their success equals my failure.
This is one of the worst mindsets to put yourself in, if not the worst. Not only is it inaccurate, it will poison and cripple you from within. It will rot your spirit and gut your confidence until all you see of yourself is a false shell of what you should be, and could be. Unfortunately it’s very easy to fall into this mindset, especially in the field of comics, where success can come rapidly and elude just as deftly.
It happened to me recently. While following some fallout and response to Comicsgate, many writers and artists I admire started sharing their “how I broke into comics” stories. Their stories were varied and wonderful, but I started reading into them too much. One creator’s story was getting a break with little prior experience in comics, another’s was hitting it big after a few years of hard-earned independent work, and yet another’s was finally getting a shot after years of failed submissions. There was nothing in their sharing that made me outraged or angry, but I started the dreaded comparison:
Where’s my big break? I have fifteen years of experience in comics! I’ve worked very hard in independent comics for close to two decades now! Am I not good enough? Am I not dedicated enough? Am I not brave enough to push submissions for years until I finally get my chance? The reason for their success must be that I’m a professional failure!
Thankfully, I came to realize that all of the above was bullshit. The reason I haven’t had a “big break” in comics and have stayed independent isn’t because I’m not good enough. It’s because I’m happy. You could always be making more money or getting a bigger audience, but that doesn’t always equal happiness. I’ve stayed in independent comics because this is where I am happiest; traveling from town-to-town to meet new people and see familiar faces, interacting with our amazing audience on a personal level instead of through an editor or publisher. Sure, it would be nice to be counted alongside famous comics creators, but I didn’t get in to comics for fame. I did it to tell stories and to find people who wanted to read them. I’m glad you’re reading ours.
Comparison can kill your spirit. The success of others does not equal your failure. When you’re making art that makes you happy, only you can declare your success or failure. And most importantly, your happiness is yours to control.