Rivkah רִבְקָה (lilrivkah) wrote,

Staying the Course

Hi Rivkah,

I just want to tell you my appreciation that you are still active in your art and comic making. You came into my mind today as I was thinking of getting back into comic book making and how much i loved reading your blog and looking at your sketches. Ever since the first few posts :)

Your art always blew me away and encouraged me to do my own, as a woman and fellow american attempting to making it into the manga world. Your level of detail and emotion is beyond that of any OEL manga creator and I loved reading Steady Beat over and over. The words or the artwork always kept me coming back for more. I’ve seen so many wonderful artists stop what they do and never pick it up again, and today it was hitting me a bit hard. Then I remembered you and was so happy to see you still active online :)

I look forward to reading more posts and purchasing what future books you release. I’ll always be a fan of the woman who was (and always will be) one of my major role models as I thought about starting out into the art world.

Thanks for being awesome :)
-Emily Paige

 ——

Dear Miss Emily Paige,

I, too, feel that pang in my gut every time a talented artist lies down her pen and turns to a safer, more secure routine. I love girls’ comics. It’s why I write them, because I wish to see more of them, and every one of us that lay down our pens and retire is at least one less book I’ll ever get to read.

Though neither can I blame the artist who desires a life where neither pride nor hunger hangs always at the end of a tenuous red thread. The life of an artist is the life of an entrepreneur, the mode of the explorer, seeking out territory not yet tread. Yet, in the excitement of exploration there is always danger waiting in the shadows of the promise of jeweled islands and starlit moutains, ready at any moment to spear her, and pin her and roast her whole. The explorations of an artist is rarely ever without hardship, strife, or self-doubt.

Staying the course and resisting the temptation to turn back will be the most difficult task any artist, any creative entrepreneur, will ever tackle because it isn’t just one storm you will cross getting to shore but fury upon fury, often sweeping you further out to sea and drastically off course. But once sail is set, what can you do but sight once more along the stars, adjust your route, and continue to your destination? For found along the side of that path is purpose, and there is no greater wealth than the knowledge that we have achieved our place in life, our part in the construction of the universe.

Perhaps it does not help girls’ comics cartoonists that there are no publishers who specialize in creating the kind of content you enjoyed in my own work. Girls’ comics have few financiers for this voyage. DC tried it with Minx, but that line suffered an early death. Minx failed because of a product that needed to be not a hair shy of spectacular in order to succeed. We seek to create a new audience, and in order to create new audiences in any medium, you must first present a product that can be neither denied nor ignored. For me, the Minx product was easily ignored, easily denied. It neither shone nor sparkled nor blinded the eyes in the way it needed to gain new readers not previously acquainted with the comics medium.

Comics could use a publisher that focuses singly on comics specializing in a female audience with a staff that understands and loves their genre; comics with kickass girl protagonists. But this publisher must first have a spearhead that is so undeniably well written and beautifully drawn and perfectly packaged that even those who are not initially drawn to the genre cannot deny its greatness and appeal. Scholastic has published a few of these (Raina Telgemeier is undeniably one of these girls’ greats), but outside of that, what have publishers offered that reaches beyond the boundaries of the already-existing comics market?

The answer, currently, has lain with Kickstarter, and here, I believe, lies proof that girls’ comics could truly succeed. Look at Aaron Diaz’s “The Tomorrow Girl”, Michelle Czajkowski “Ava’s Demon”, Takashi Miyazawa’s and Jonathan Coulton’s “The Princess Who Saved Herself“, Ashley Cope’s “Unsounded”, Renae DeLiz’s “Peter Pan”, and Jamal Igle’s “Molly Danger”. Jamal Igle wrote an incredibly moving essay on his Kickstarter page about the need for comics for young girls, and it’s one any artist who has felt the frustrations of trying to break into the girls’ comics market (break into? how about create?) could do well to read: every heartfelt word, every line and page. But beyond that, each of these artists have funded their girls’ works purely by word-of-mouth, and spectacularly so. How much further they could reach with the distribution of a publisher and a thoughtful, powerful marketing effort behind it!

So thank you, Emily, for such beautiful, encouraging words. Because even though I have kept my eyes always on my treasures, I too have felt the doubts that gnaw at the back of my head and stir in the shadows of my heart.

The life of an explorer is never secure. Far too many turn the sheets of their sails to the placid harbors of familiar shores. No sailor is guaranteed treasure, only the dream of it. Yet it is that dream of pearls that pulls us ever forward to a destination far from the safety and the security of port.

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