I’ve been reading many of the tributes to Mike Wieringo, and one of the best is from Jeff Parker (http://www.parkerspace.com/2007/08/13/remembering-mike/#comments). Jeff talks about the crazy younger days, and the later drift towards isolation by Mike that can be so easy for those of us who freelance from home.
But the saddest thing for me (other than his passing) is the feeling Mike had that his work was being marginalized, and his career wasn’t progressing the way he wanted. I believe that insecurity is very prevalent among comic book professionals.
If you are fortunate enough to work steadily for Marvel or DC, you are making a living wage–but you are not getting rich. There are the exceptions, but the typical artist/writer is grinding away on a heavy monthly schedule to pay the bills. Then a time comes, perhaps in the middle-age years, where phone calls to editors aren’t returned, and spaces between assignments become longer. Maybe far too long to cover the costs of living.
For those of you pursuing the dream, I do encourage you. But keep your backside covered. Accept advertising work, keep your computer skills up, or continue to work on that independent project of yours. The great comic artist Russ Heath said he always tried to work for at least a couple of clients, and the companies that hired him knew that. There’s less of a chance someone takes advantage, when you can always walk away.