Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck
were are my favourite Disney characters. I always felt there was something about their adventures that was missing in Mickey, Minnie, Goofy strips and my joy knew no end when the latest comic that landed at my doorstep had Donald stories. Which brings me to Don Rosa, the creator of these wonderful characters and widely renowned as one of Disney’s best illustrators. Come to think of it, I have always had a bias for comics with more detail in them. The main reason I prefer Asterix over Tintin and why I like the new DC ‘underground’ look comics compared to their older ones. (There I, finally, said it out loud.)
So it came as a bit of a shocker when I read his post on ‘Why I quit’. The long post covers various aspects of what bought one of the most popular illustrators to take the decision he did.
I have told you of the myriad joys of being proclaimed as the most popular current cartoonist on the world’s most popular comics. But I have not mentioned the other side of the coin — the many difficulties and bitter frustrations of this experience. Some of these are physical and some are philosophical.
He lists 6 reasons for quitting (In reverse order) and Reason #1 he mentions is the “Disney comics system” – basically the way royalties are paid (actually not paid). The thing that struck me though, was how the trigger for discontent seemed to be the gap between perception of what people assumed Don was earning and what he actually was earning.
And on these promotional media events when I did press conferences and appearances on national TV talk-shows, some interviewers would privately comment about how nice it must be for me to be getting so rich off something I obviously enjoyed doing so much. Eventually it hit me — all the European fans assumed that I was a millionaire. They assumed that when I sat at a book store signing the 30 Euro books the store was selling, I was getting a 5 Euro cut on each sale! Whoa! I had never minded not getting wealthy off this job I loved. But it became really annoying when I discovered that everyone assumed I was getting huge royalties. They could never imagine that such a system exists in this day and age (or that an author/artist would be so stupid as to participate in it). I started feeling like a world-class chump.
This, from a man who openly admits he was having a time of his life.
My work habits only became more intense when I stumbled into my dream job of writing and drawing comics with Barks’ Ducks. I think it’s obvious that fans do not like my stories so much due to the “superb” artwork. It’s the hard work that they clearly see I lavish on every panel and every plot.
…You can see that I made up for my lack of artistic ability by cramming so much “needless and irritating detail” into every panel.
…much of which readers never even realize — I do many things secretly just for my own amusement.
I empathize at some level. And this problem is in no way limited to illustrators – it creeps into every aspect of life. Discontent about a certain position that is festered by your well-wishers having a different opinion/assumption about how some things are/should be. Family, friends, colleagues, it could happen from anywhere and indeed to anyone.
There is no dearth of people who screw others over intentionally or otherwise. Doubt and dissatisfaction is like slow poison. It creeps in over a long period of time and colours everything in your life, eventually taking away the things that you loved so much when you started. Don has a choice and will spend all his time taking care of a wonderful place he owns, but how many have that choice? Most continue to be locked into situations they hate but can’t seem to do much about.
The complete post is here: Don Rosa Collection – An Epilogue
So long Don. Thanks for those wonderful Duck adventures.
(Image source: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:DonRosa_faces.jpg)