The other day, Faith Erin Hicks wrote an interesting screed (read it here) titled “Why I Will Not Draw your Comic For Free.” It had a lot of great points. It also had a bunch of things I take some amount of issue with.
Nick Tapalansky takes issue with some things as well (read that essay here) and writes them up himself.
I find I fall somewhere between the two.
See, Faith Erin Hicks gets pissed because someone pinged her via Tumblr question to ask if she’d draw a comic that he would write. And she kinda… she didn’t lose it, or become hysterical or anything – but she came off, intentional or not, as ruder than I would have expected.
My expectations, mind you, are based solely on her work that I have read – which is 100% unfair of me! But it’s all I have to go on. I do not know her, or presume to know anything about her. Nor, again, do I have a problem with her reaction. It simply hit me oddly. It came off as kinda rude. Just word choice. Tone. Intangibles.
And that’s why a bunch of people had a problem with it, I think. The message is right, the delivery rubbed some people the wrong way. Uhhh, that’s all right, too. But that’s where Nick comes in. Nick took her tone as deeply off, and also just feels the correct response – in his eyes – is far more polite.
Nick sees, and I don’t disagree with him, the request as partly a compliment. This is someone who has their own dream, their creation that matters deeply to them and they are asking someone to go in with it. That is a compliment, isn’t it? And shouldn’t those be taken gently? As a whole – shouldn’t we, as creators, be kind and polite, occasionally to a fault, to the next generation, as we were treated by some as we started to come into the fold? Totally! Being as civil as possible is helpful. It’s treating others how we would want to be treated. It’s also a matter of inspiring and thanking others and paying it forward, to a degree.
Nick’s points are not lost on me, any more than Faith Erin Hicks’ are (I know Nick personally, which is why I call him Nick. Faith Erin Hicks I do not know and am not sure what she would like to be addressed as and so I keep using her full name – sorry if that cadence throws you) and that’s interesting to me. I see and feel both sides. The more I look at both arguments the more I agree with both.
So yes – I get what Faith Erin Hicks means. She is a popular and successful creator. She does this for a living. And it has to be irksome to get those requests (and let’s be fair – via Tumblr? Major WTFNO) all the time – as if your skill is just waiting for some unknown kid to pop up and channel it.
Hell to the naw.
The skill is already being used – doing what she does. And who are you to think you should leverage some of that for yourself? If you’re an established pro that’s different, that’s a collaboration between equals with far less blue sky potential. That’s important because it means there is a much better chance that it will pay off – financially and creatively. And Faith Erin Hicks not only has a right to focus that way she, frankly, has a responsibility too.
Also the more I read her words the more I read them as weary instead of angry. After a while of getting the same question and being as polite as possible – you have to draw a line so that you just – stop – getting – asked. And if that means some people take it as rude then so be it. If that means some people get angry – that’s on them.
So yeah. Be polite as you can manage, and know when to not be. But no matter what – be yourself – create and remember that your creations are, for you, more important that someone else’s. Then remind yourself the flip is true for them and their creation’s and understand where they’re coming from too.
We’re all trying: you help where you can, do what you need to in order to stay sane and keep living.