There are some things you’ll never get over, my mom told me back in April 2009. I had an interview with DC Comics in the production department, and it couldn’t have gone better. “If I could make my decision today…” and “you’ll definitely hear from us” were just key indicators. Three weeks later, I received a very nice letter from H.R. telling me I didn’t receive the job, but they’d keep me in mind for other positions.
I was devastated, so devastated I went to see the Hannah Montana movie. Apparently, I felt the need to be masochistic.
After a few weeks and a million boxes of tissues later, my mom said, “There are some things you’ll never get over.” But that didn’t mean I couldn’t move on. If I wanted to work in comic books, I needed to keep moving forward, continue to write, continue to improve, and I’ve done that. The Break-Out Comic Book Experiment was born later that year, and in its thesis, I gave myself three years to break-in comics in any way—as a sales coordinator, as an elevator button pusher, as a writer on Batman. It’s been twenty-two months.
I don’t know where to go from here.
Stan Lee and MTV Comics’s sweepstakes with The Seekers was a prime opportunity to showcase my talent on a large scale and hopefully break into the comic industry. I awoke every morning at two A.M. to work on this script, to foster it, to make sure it was damn near perfect, and I submitted it a good two days early. I missed one key element, though, one that a teacher in grade school drills into her students’ heads every day.
READ THE DIRECTIONS.
Despite implied nudity in the supplied treatment, there was to be no nudity. Well, I added it with a line, “Please use discretion. Tweens might read this!” I also added links to desert and cave references for the artist. Apparently, that was another no-no. It’s my fault. I should have read the complete contract. I just assumed that it would read, “Any likeness to your script is coincidental…etc.”
So what happens when you are your own worst enemy? What can you do?
Phil Hester tweeted not too long ago that if you work hard enough, a job is there in the comic book industry, but you MUST work hard enough. I wake up every day at three the latest to write before going to my seven A.M. to five P.M. job. I’m taking Saturday art courses at the Kubert School to get some artistic background for an editorial gig. I’m on Twitter trying to learn from the great creators of our time.
What if your “hard enough” isn’t “good enough?”
For the brief time Tony Daniel had a Tumblr account, I asked him if he always knew he was going to make it when he as a child. Was his career, in fact, destiny? He said he had always been a pretty confident kid, so he knew if he worked hard enough, he’d make it. (Spoiler: He did!)
I always thought that. I always thought if I gave it my all, I’d make it. I’d be the first female regular writer on Batman. I’d be an assistant editor, toiling under the great Axel Alonso or Bob Harras. Heck, I’d be the 1700 Broadway official elevator button pusher. (There isn’t one, guys.)
But now…after this…I really thought I had a great treatment and script for The Seekers. I really thought this was it.
And it’s not.
And it’s my fault.
“There are some things you’ll never get over,” my mom had said.
I can move on, though.
I feel like Ted on How I Met Your Mother when Lily tells him, “Maybe this is the architecture world kicking your ass out.” (Okay, that wasn’t the EXACT quote.)
Maybe this is the comic book industry kicking me out, telling me I’m not good enough and I never will be.
But then…I really don’t know what to do. This has been my dream since I bought my first comic book in Sam Goody’s when I was ten. I tell people my first comic was ‘Tec #698, but I lie. It was actually The Adventures of Batman and Robin #1. ‘Tec #698 was second, followed by Nightwing #1.
If I don’t do this, I don’t know what to do—or what to do with the notebook on my desk at work where I jot down bits of dialogue and plot, or the money that goes to comic books, or the Comic-Con tickets that just arrived on Friday. This has been my life for so long.
And just the thought of letting that go feeds the hungry in the pit of my stomach that knows what’s going to happen to Lance in False Dawn #22 and to Donnellie and Casia on that journey in Zenith’s Rise or to Bucky when he finally realizes his father is Ares. (Huh…that might not be possible now, anyway…)
The hungry eats away at me, and just like that, I’m reminded being a writer isn’t a gift. It’s a curse, and damnit. I have another year on the Experiment.
And letting go of this dream—I don’t think I could ever get over that.
Devin Leigh Michaels