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Comics Career Guide: What to Expect From a Career in the Arts

A career is a tough thing to plan. A career in a world full of supervillains is even tougher. There are so many opportunities that can turn out to be traps, and seeming pitfalls that turn out to be saving moves. It’s difficult to maneuver one’s superheroic way to stable and comfortable employment.

Last time we discussed superhero day jobs, we focused on how to have a successful profession in the sciences without ending up as a half-human-half-wildebeest monster. This time we turn our attention to that most mercurial of all careers – the arts. Find out how to work the comic book universe to be an artist, and not someone just formerly known as an artist.

Performing Arts:
Best Case Scenario: Ironically enough, being ignored. You don’t want to be entirely ignored, just in a comfortable and safe little rut. You can be an actor, but stick to light romantic comedy and dumb TV dramas that don’t involve crime. If you’re a dancer, be in the chorus line, or part of a middling-to-good modern-dance troupe. If you’re a singer, happily sing pop ballads. Don’t ever be a symbol of your time. That way misery lies.
Worst Case Scenario: High prestige work. You do not want to be a famed tragedian, a blisteringly talented prima ballerina, and for god’s sake, don’t go into opera. You also don’t want to be a sharp, timely comedian. You do not want to be a Harrison Bergeron. It’s unlikely that you’ll be literally cut down by soldiers, unless the universe you’re in is extremely Randian. Instead, the more incredibly, inhumanly, breath-takingly talented you are, the riper you are for some archetypal tragedy. The line, “This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you,” should not apply to you. Make sure of that.

Middling: You’ll be the understudy, the person who placed second in the talent contest, the person who always almost made it. Eventually you’ll get bitter, and then crazy. At last there will be nothing left of you but a seething cauldron of envy. What makes this middling? See the people in the paragraph above? They’re what you’ll eventually be launched at.

How to aim for the best: Bland competence works. Practice drifting through scenarios not trying too much and not wanting too much. If that doesn’t work for you, then research the local superhero population. Do they seem like they’d fit in in an opera? Go into hip-hop. Are they man/woman-of-the-people types? Find something rarefied and excel at that. Throw yourself clear of their influence and the supervillains will leave you alone.

Visual Arts:


Best Case Scenario: Pop art and sculpture is the way to go. What you want is for your art to become a perfect background for a fight, but not something to fight about in an of itself. Make art that’s nice to look at but intrinsically worthless. Beautiful pieces made of Styrofoam are nice (unless you live in a city with eco-warriors), but stay away from intricate sculptures which house a rare, precious element. Architecture is absolutely out of the question, since any building you design will be exploded with you chained to the pipes in its basement.
Worst Case Scenario: Being a re-toucher or curator for ancient art works. For one thing, they’re all cursed. That means if you don’t get knocked around by thugs coming in to steal them for their unimaginable power, you’ll become a carrier of that power yourself. It might sound like fun, but it always results in your eyes getting red and your skin rotting off. If, somehow, you manage to avoid both of these things, you’ll be fired or ruined when the heroes inevitably destroy the work of art in order to keep it out of the wrong hands.

Middling: You’ll suffer some setback – colorblindness or the loss of a hand, and start committing robberies of other artist’s work while wearing a silly costume.

How to aim for the best: Be a nice person. Readers like to see obnoxious people lose everything, so stay polite. And again, research is key. If you know that there’s a person out there who steals everything that has anything to do with sharks, don’t take your shark-inspired artwork on tour in his city. It’s just common sense.

Writing:

Best Case Scenario: Plucky reporter who gets into tight spots but always comes out with the story!

Worst Case Scenario: Inspired poet, play write, or novelist who ends up attracting all the crazy in all the world.

Middling: Young boy struggling to make ends meet at a newspaper with a hard-bitten editor.

How to aim for the best: It’s funny, if you’re a reporter, you have to do crazy things to hunt down a story. If you’re into high art – great novels, famous plays, or stirring poetry – the story comes to you. Always. In the middle of the night. With an axe. I’m as lazy as anyone can be. Hell, I’m a blogger. But even I think that hard work is worth it if you want to live to see your name in print. To ensure your survival, work hard, and speak only like a tough-talking dame from the thirties. It’s the only way.

Musical Arts:


Best Case Scenario: You’re the orchestral tuba player, who watches terrified as your company’s star violinist is executed, or blinded, or deafened, or has their hands broken.

Worst Case Scenario: You’re the violinist.

Middling: Your garage band keeps getting lectured by wealthy vigilantes for being grungy and encouraging violence, and mocked by poor vigilantes for being middle-class posers.

How to aim for the best: This is just like the performing arts section. Talent means death. You don’t want to live a poetic life of high drama. Not in this universe. I’d aim for the garage band, not necessarily as an actual career choice, but as a way of entertaining yourself. You get to travel. You get a little extra money in your pocket. There are groupies. And you get to meet every superhero there is, as long as you’re willing to let them complain at you. Unlike almost every other career on this list – being in a bad band is actually a fun lifestyle and a way to express yourself. Good deal.

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