I met Neil Gaiman once, and I asked him a question he assured me he’d never been asked. We were hundreds present with our collections, in a long sinuous line surrounding the upper floor of an !ndigo book store in downtown Toronto, waiting to meet the master himself, waiting for a one minute signing session he graciously gave each and every one of us.
I asked him what it was like for everyone here present to know him, and for him to know virtually none of us in return – what does that feel like?... We had all connected with his work, he had shown us his rosy underbelly, he’d been open and vulnerable, but it was always through fiction [or non-fiction as the case may be], and now that I ask myself the same question, I can see how it’s an interesting question, sure, but I would have no idea, all these years later, how to answer that question myself. What is it like to be known to your readers without knowing who they are in return?
I’m not @neilhimself [Neil Gaiman's twitter handle]. I don’t have a billion fans. But still, I’ve put myself out there, and I can’t take it back. For years I woke up with night terrors at the very idea that anyone outside my family knew me, outside my closest friends. But somehow this phenomenon is plural.
They sold us the internet in zero to twenty-five years. They guaranteed us we’d be able to connect with people all around the world. And for the truly zealous, they promised fame and fortune. And we bought it boy, hook, line and sinker. And you know what!? The internet delivered. Either by friend, follow, like or connection, I’m linked to thousands of people the world over. The algorithms of social media helped me find like-minded people who share my passion for the arts, for comics, music, love, humanity and magic realism.
My life has become a joke of synchronicity, where I experience moments of gross coincidence on a minute-by-minute basis. And this isn’t because I’m some kind of time lord or shaman [though, you know… I dabble].
No. It’s because the connectivity is so fast that we can’t keep up with it, and when we do, the holographic nature of reality is reflected back into our lives a thousand fold. And if I wanted to, I could find out what @neilhimself is thinking right now. It’s positively unprecedented, but we find ourselves in simply greater circles of the riddle above… I know you. Do you know me?
Indie comics is not a glorious endeavor. There are friends, and fans, allies, enemies, challenges, victories, recognition, snobbery, there’s a bit of everything, but it’s not glorious. Not anymore. Everyone is an artist. Everyone is a writer. Everyone is an expert. And I’m trying to look up to the giants who have come before me but also connect with the people that read their work through mine. We’re all connected in a way that, I guess, I don’t fully understand.
You know, I pretty much stopped doing shows. I appear here and there, but after 10 years of concerted effort to ‘make it in comics on my own terms,’ I find myself on the verge of success and feeling, despite all of you who support me, terribly alone. It’s not your fault. It’s not even mine. It’s not even the fault of my mental illness, which I’ve started being more open about. It’s systemic. It’s society.
We’ve grown so dependent on the process of connecting with people, that if we were suddenly to experience a mass electrical surge, we’d all be desperately alone with our blank screen, phone, tablet, laptop or console. And that’s what worries me. That’s why I’m not so comfortable in just assuming a public persona, pitching you my products, and leaving it at that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I want to meet your mother or anything, I just feel like the internet has yet to deliver on its promise to truly make us more connected.
It’s a military tool given to enslave us and make us divulge who we are, on a minute-to-minute basis, through our likes, our retweets and re-posts. Let’s put a bookmark there and return to it at a later date. It’s just something I’m watching.
Because ironically, people, I think, connect with me most through my work, and not by meeting me and shaking my hand and looking me in the eye. That’s great, but that is not where we connect. We connect through art, through my graphic novels, my short works, my comics. That is where the humanity comes through. That is where I’m the most open, and once the pencil line is down, I can either erase it, or go with it, and if you’re going to make comics for a living, you have to learn to go with it.
So I struggle. Do I tell you all of my amazing plans for the next few years!? Or do I tell you to sign up for my newsletter before Spring 2018 in order to get a free copy of my SIGNAL Saga Ashcan #0 on March 21? Do I tell you the regular series web comic edition of SIGNAL Saga is on its way? Do I promote the hell out of my $#!@? Do I tell you what I had for breakfast!? This part is so difficult for me.
But the work. Even though I’m alone drawing or writing, that’s where I connect with you. That is where I feel you most. I don’t do it for the likes or the follows, I do it because I can feel the magic between the creator and the reader, and it’s in the work. This is where the origin for the name Mirror stems from!!!
So I’m going to cool my heels in the heart on my sleeve department, and crank up the heat on the… “Here… I put all of myself in this… won’t you read it?” department. I hope that will actually increase our connection. Because the art object is a thing of magic.
After all these years, all the sales pitches, the ads, the flyers, the shows, the pomp and circumstance, none of these things compete with the work. This is where we’ll meet.
So sign up, follow, follow, follow, like, like, join, whatever. We’ll do this song and dance thing we call social media, but what’s amazing is that I have new work coming out soon, and you’ll be the first to know.
And if the internet only gave us that, then maybe indie comics ain’t so bad.
See you on the page, fellow seekers, it’s going to be truly awesome.
Dominic B. | Mirror Comics Studios
author | artist | designer | principal #MCSBooks
Site : www.dominicbercier.com | Facebook : @DominicBercier | Twitter : @DominicBercier
Site : www.mirrorcomics.com | Facebook : @mirrorcomics | Twitter : @mirrorcomics
Site : www.signalsaga.com | Facebook : @SIGNALsaga | Twitter : @SIGNALsaga
PS : I’ll be celebrating 3 years as Mirror Comics Studios on June 6, 2018!!
BE THERE!!! :)