The University of Minneapolis has a DEGREE in comics - and a lot of it is the marketing and networking that makes it possible for young comics folks to make a living, and not have to be team artists, but real creatives.
A good friend got me together with the San Diego State University to help build the comic book and art collection in the Love Library Special Collections. I am so exceedingly proud that my name is on the entry hall, and that my collection - for fund-raising - is now valued at a quarter million dollars - and I'm getting my name on the wall of major donors to the university. We helped hook up the universities to make comics reconizeable as the art form they are.
When Booksurge was being bought by Amazon to make Createspace for books, we small publishers and authors were called - on THEIR DIME - and asked for up to an hour what we really wanted. Which is why Createspace works as well as it does, and has direct support we can contact, and that is truly helpful and patient.
I've never worked for team companies. I never drew any of the major characters. Like so many of the wonderful young people found in Artist Alleys today, I worked to develop my own line, ideas, characters and stories. I hope I've made it possible for them to have creative freedom, and to be paid for it, even in the smallest way.
I like to think I assisted with some of the nuts and bolts of making the form something everyone could admire. I'm still making that work with my Clallam Bay Comicon, too, where rural attitudes toward comics are slowly turning around. No longer will they believe that superheroes or Manga are the only chance they have as comics creators, or genre fan texts as authors. I couldn't do it without the assistance of other truly original comics authors, who bring their work and ideas to share and teach. You have your own voice. Come share it.
You all count, and you're all recognized. If you even have one loving fan, you have your reward. At one time, that's all I had. I never meant to share my work, but that woman laughed and wept and adored my work and persuaded me to offer my work at a sci-fi convention, and to accept publishers who liked what I offered. I've always held her title of First Fan to be among the most honorable ones in the pantheon of the people who have encouraged me. Without her, I'd still be just drawing at home, and while this is an honorable goal, too, it shouldn't be the only one.
If what I've done has helped built the structures that make things easier for today's kids, I thank all the fellow creatives and fans and one very perceptive university library I've known and who have backed me up for the opportunity.
Thank you all.