Page 252: Determination
Hi there. Marius Müller-Müllerhagen was a hugely succesful German popstar at that time, he filled big arenas without problems. He started actually not that bad, Pubrock and R’n’B in German with a local touch, but when he got very succesful things went wrong.
Last week, there was news within the German comicscene, several artists and publisher have published a manifesto, that while the comic and graphic novel art is finally being noticed and got out of the bad light, there still is little financial support from stately cultural institutions or no burseries. Very soon the discussion changed to the subject what kind of comic art is worth sponsoring, the comics or the graphic-novels. People were fearing that only the ones with an ‘arty’ content would get some funding, and everybody would produce only ‘graphic novels’ anymore.
This discussion is justified of course, but we tend to forget the core of the manifesto: namely that only few cartoonists can make their art their livelihood, may it be comics or graphic novels. And the publishers don’t have the money to support the entire creative process of a comic. It even happens with small publishers now and that publishers and artists share the financing of the cost of printing. Sounds more like a hobby, than a livelihood. And so most of the artists have (and some publishers even) spend most of their time elsewhere to earn their bread and butter on the side, and when they have some time left, they devote it to their art. It is no coincidence that I now have been working nearly seven years on Getting Grand . It has of course several reasons why I take a break on it from time to time , but the main reason for it taking so long is just that I earn my money with commissioned work. I feel lucky, that this works, and that I can feed my family of five. Still, if someone would pay for my work on the comics in an appropriate manner, I would devote myself fully to the matter immediately. No illustration job gives me as much fun as this.
Under normal circumstances, I would easily create a page per day. In my best times when there is not too much commissioned work to do, I can do at most three per week , and that is without coloring. But at this moment there is so much on the table, in the next three weeks I will probably not create a single new page . So to me it is not possible to respond to the numerous questions with a specific date for when this thing is finished at last. I’d like to say as soon as possible, but of course family goes first.
That’s why I’m grateful for this manifesto, only to point out how long the creative process takes without financial support. To create a public awareness of the profession and the work situation of comic artists. Without complaining , it’s my decision to handle it this way. But the people, the audience must be aware that any art , be it music, or literature, or comics, is not just being created with a finger snap. It’s hard work and sometimes time-consuming work . And should be paid , however . My book , whenever it is done, will not cost less than 30 euros . Without any sponsoring, and no bursery. To obtain a reasonably fair hourly wage for the work that I put into it, I would probably need to sell 60,000 units. Which of course I do not expect to manage. Money was not the reason why I started this. Which is probably the case with most artists. They opt for their art because they have to. But they also have to eat .
We can let the cultural instituions decide what art is, and let them support the projects they like. But personally I would prefer, to let you, the audience decide it. There are many ways to help, and it doesn’t even have to involve money.
Thanks a lot.
Correction: “Bodo” has made me aware that he has indeed been in military service, and secondly never attended a Westernhagen concert. Sorry for that. In that time, in my vision, everybody went to Westernhagen concerts, apart from the subcultures of mod, rockabilly, psychobilly, Scooterboy, skinhead or Gothic. Sorry that I misjudged Bodo here, I’m sorry for that, but it’s also due to dramaturgical reasons. And please don’t double-check with your own diaries, not everything has happened in this particular way that I drew it.