C11 P84 We had a deal – MOKO Press presents: LeyLines, a Fantasy Adventure Comic by Robin Childs Skip to content
Follow

C11 P84 We had a deal

C11 P84 We had a deal published on 13 Comments on C11 P84 We had a deal

Investing in an idea or an organization or a person with complete and unwavering faith can be a powerful thing, but it’s often also a brittle thing. Especially when being on the pedestal represents perfection. It makes it hard to believe that imperfection is possible, especially when the things you believe about yourself are built on your beliefs in something external.

Sometimes we prefer the ideal to the reality. And sometimes letting a little flexibility into that image lets us be more adaptable in our own lives. We shall see how Pakku’s adjustment fares.

Hero worship is another example of inflexible ideas. I’ve done my own fair share of getting myself into trouble with my heroes. I have what I call “A Super Fan Tendency,” wherein I can get REALLY excited about something REALLY suddenly and then get REALLY sour on it if it disappoints me. I’ve learned that this is okay to do with stories…but…not with people. With people, I have to remind myself that everybody is human, and fallible, and has off-days. Nobody is perfect. The truth is, we all have ugly sides and struggles, and we’re not going to be in top form every day.

I was reading an introduction, written by Charles de Lint, to a collection of short stories by Patricia McKillip. I thought this section captured the need to test that ideal image, and the truth behind the image of perfection, beautifully:

“…We’re always curious, aren’t we? When something moves us we want — almost need — to know more about the individual who was able to wake such a reaction in us.

It can be a double-edged sword, of course. Sometimes the person is everything we hoped they would be, with a heart beating in their chest as big and generous as we imagined. Their eyes are so clear and wise that it seems utterly appropriate that they give us a more profound experience of the world’s mysteries.

Other times, the person is so wrong in terms of how we imagined them that we can no longer engage in their art in the same way that once we did.

It’s a curious thing, but even when we know that it might turn out badly, we still walk into the riddle that is the artist whose work we admire so much, hoping for the best.

The truth is, more often than not, despite their spark of genius, these artists are not unlike you or me — a mix of good and bad, patient and intolerant, welcoming and private — all in varying degrees. And of course we’re all different, depending on the day and situation in which we find ourselves.”

I’ve been somewhat terrified of having someone becoming a Super Fan of my work. Because I know, first-hand, how intense and ugly the disappointment can be when the person discovers the IDEA of the creator is far more perfect than the person. It’s a guaranteed eventuality, given a long enough time-frame and an inflexible enough idea. As much as I’d like to be perfect, it is part of my life-long struggle to admit to myself that I am far from it, and furthermore that a lack of perfection is not only okay and normal, but in many ways necessary and important.

So when I first met someone that described themselves as a Fan, I was petrified of when they’d discover I wasn’t at all who they’d imagined me to be.

I first met Jeo over a year ago at a show called Comic Fest. She was very, very, very nervous. It was difficult, at first, to have a conversation. I shared with her the story of the first time I’d met someone I’d idolized at a show — complete with how I’d hyperventilated, forgotten how to speak, failed to make eye contact, and then awkwardly shoved a home-printed business card into this poor creator’s hand — and that, compared to that, Jeo was absolutely doing just fine. Afterwards we managed a simple conversation and she went on her way. I felt glad that the interaction had gone positively, but was scared underneath it. How long? How long until the image cracked?

The next time I met Jeo was at Denver Comic Con. A show with 100,000 attendees last year. She’d asked me on Twitter what my favorite candy was. I had said chocolates. At the show, she surprised me with a box of them as a gift. At the time, I was very overwhelmed by the show, and I’m not sure my name/face software was still working at all by that time. I don’t think I recognized her on sight. It took me a while to piece together the person I’d interacted with at Comic Fest, with the person on Twitter, with the person in front of me. Denver Comic Con is a very hectic show, and I don’t think I was able to dedicate enough time to her. I don’t know if that’s true or not. She left abruptly and I was convinced It Had Happened. She was surely angry at me, and now the illusion had been shattered. Now she hated me. I was absolutely sure of it.

I worried over this like a dry bone for the next year.

The most recent time I met Jeo was at a new show called DINK, a few weeks ago. I was able to put the recognition pieces together much faster this time. She had a long conversation with Cory when I was chatting with other folks as well. It seemed that perhaps she didn’t hate me forever after all, which was both assuring, but a re-set when it came to the fear of wondering how long it would be until the dissolution REALLY happened. Eventually, she invited Cory & I out to dinner after the show, and we accepted. After helping us pack up, we all went out to the parking lot. She’d parked down the street, and I offered to drive her over to her lot.

On the way to her car, she turned to me and said:

“You know, Robin, when I first met you, you were like some sort of…mythical creature. But as I’ve gotten to know you, you’ve just become…a person.”

“Good,” I replied, my heart filled with relief and tension draining from my shoulders. “I make a terrible unicorn.”

I cannot tell you how much better I’ve felt since then. Being a perfect unicorn sounds like a pretty sweet gig, but I gotta say that the pressure makes being just a human a much preferable state.

(Dinner with Jeo was wonderful, by the way. Even if Cory and I were both two very tired humans.)

Have you ever felt you were expected to be a unicorn? Or have you ever met a unicorn that turned out to be a person after all? What was your experience like, and how did you survive the transition?

13 Comments

Children visit this site. Moderate your language accordingly.

Once I had the experience of exhibiting at a few shows myself, I became a LOT more understanding when I met a creator who seemed distant or grumpy or whatever. By the time Sunday rolls around, I’m lucky if I can even form coherent sentences, let alone be witty and charming.

Not quite the same thing, but your story about Jeo reminded me of my favorite fan encounter. One time I was set up at a con, and out of the corner of my eye I see this big, scary-looking dude making a bee-line for my table with a determined look on his face. Shaved head, tattoos all over, piercings, the works. I’m thinking, “Uh-oh, did I cut this guy off in the parking lot or something?” But when he gets to my table, he breaks out in a big grin and shakes my hand. Turns out that a few years earlier, when he was still a teenager, he’d sent me some fan art, and I’d printed it in one of my minicomics. It was the first time he’d ever had anything “published”, and now he was working on his own comics. I don’t remember anything else about that show, but that encounter alone pretty much made it the Best Con Ever.

I was that kid with Great Potential in school. It made me sick to hear someone say it, because I heard it so often. “You’re going to change the world.” “You’re so great.” “You could get into a great schhool.” Because all too often it was a double edged sword. “You could be amazing if you just Applied Yourself.” That sort of thing.

Honestly, I would’ve done way better in school if my teachers had stopped telling me how great I could be every five minutes, because the pressure was driving me insane. I don’t know how many of them actually expected me to be a unicorn, but I had convinced myself they did, and I expected myself to be a unicorn. By the time I got to high school, I was so dead from all the expectations that I felt that it was better not to try at all, and fail by default, than to try and fail, because at least this way it didn’t hurt as much not being able to live up to anyone’s expectations.

I’ve seen that kind of pressure crush many bright young students. And many students who weren’t that bright in EVERYTHING and weren’t valued for the skills they did have.

I don’t know if it’s quite the same issue, but it made me think of a TEDtalk Cory shared with me the other day that encouraged us to teach Bravery, not Perfection, especially to girls. I think it’s something that can apply to either gender, but I do think it’s emphasized in women more than men. Not sure if it’s related to what you’re describing, but I did think it was an interesting speech that I could see in action when I was working in schools.

I went through EXACTLY the same thing. Breaking down my delusions of grandeur has been incredibly difficult yet essential in my adult journey.

You worried over ME? Out of all the people you met at DCC to worry about, you worried over me. I am just a fan that is most of the time loving your comic but also confused as heck by it. However, if I think I might know what is going on, I will talk your ear off about and with LL there is enough to have hours of convos on it. Robin, I thought I had gotten over my fear of talking to comic artist but I have not. Kory Bing of Skindeep was at DINK and oh man I was like a shy three year old yet again. You wouldn’t believe that once upon a time I used to make my living public speaking the way I gape at artist. Meeting you, Cory and Kory really is akin to meeting J.K. Rowling or Steven King (who has corgis!). However, you and Cory has been downgraded from mythical creature to Human while Mrs. Rowling and Mr. King are still listed as mermaids.

Downgrade? No, no, no becoming human is a MASSIVE upgrade from being a mythical beast. Absolutely massive.

Unicorns:
– Can’t have flaws
– Are 1 dimensional to be “pure”
– Are an illusion, and thus the real person behind the image is invisible and unseen.

PEOPLE:
– Are allowed to make mistakes
– Have depth and many facets, good and bad
– Are seen as their real selves and valued for who they actually are. Accepted, rather than invisible.

Being a human is SO MUCH BETTER than being a Unicorn. I wouldn’t wish Unicorn status on anybody. Even J.K. and Mr. King. Who, I assure you, are most definitely humans. Probably. 😉

It’s okay, Pakku! Character growth! You’ll feel better when it’s over. And Una will probably only make fun of you a little bit. (Not really. She’ll make fun of you a lot.)

I try to remember that creators are so good at making things that I love precisely because they are fallible human beings who are often petty, nasty, or overtired. If they didn’t have those pieces of themselves, they couldn’t create truly good work, because they need to know all the pieces of humanity to accurately portray it on the page (or screen, etc.).

Also, for the record, I am totally a Superfan of yours. You have had the unfortunate pleasure of my extreme interest since I was a mouthbreathing little thirteen-year-old, so thank you for putting up with me.

That’s a really cool way to think of it. You’re absolutely right. Those pieces of real humanity are necessary to create honest fiction. An author might be a good observer, but the only way they can completely capture how something feels is to dig into it from the inside out. Doesn’t mean they can’t imagine or project an experience to write it well, but those pieces usually won’t be the parts that feel the most real.

Knowing you consider yourself a Superfan does give me a shot of fear, I’ll admit it, but you’ve interacted with me so much by now that it doesn’t feel quite as scary as it could. I never would have guessed. You’ve always conducted yourself like a human talking to a human with me. For which I have always been exceptionally grateful.

Well, again, I’ve always trucked with the idea that my favorite creators are just fellow humans (probably because a lot of my favorite authors have made statements I don’t agree with). And you have become more and more open and honest about yourself, which helps. Also, you just continue to progress as an artist and a storyteller and talk about finding new ways to challenge yourself, so that helps too.

But yeah I’m totally a superfan and if I ever met you in person I would probably squeak.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *