Nothing to do with comics
Well, maybe a little. But only tangentially.
Five years ago today I started the only actual job I ever loved, that of being a digital animator up in the looney-bin known as Hollywood. Okay, North Hollywood, so it was actually in the Valley and hence not Hollywood, but a close approximation. I learned quite a bit there, but the single most important thing that I learned: don’t be amazed that good things come out of the Hollywood system (you know, the odd Blade Runner or Terminator or Iron Giant), rather be amazed that anything gets finished. There’s a project-management cliché about herding cats. That’s a little off. It’s more like herding giant squid. On land. While riding lobsters.
The work was often under imossible circumstances and unfulfilable expectations (try explaining to a producer that you don’t just “push a button and make it look good”), and yet, I miss it sometimes. There’s something to be said for the social aspect of working in a bullpen situation with a ton of other creative (and often lunatic) folks. Of course, there’s a lot to be said for not having to put in sixty to eighty hour work weeks (did my share of those thanks to other people’s Bad Planning).
Not that the hours in dad-hood are all that much better, now that I think about it…
But there was good to be found, even in crunch time, when people lost it one by one or desperately held onto sanity by whatever lifeline could be found, whether it be episodes of The Simpsons, multiplayer Deathtank on the Sega Genesis, mercilessly mocking other co-workers and management, midnight trips to In-N-Out Burgers, discussions of philosophy and the Meaning of It All while you’re waiting for that damn test render, browsing the resin kit porn online, or trying to outdo one another in insane displays of geek toys like armies ranked for a genre-smashing muster: Star Wars toys mingled with Bat toys with esoteric Japanese toys that have no name. Funny, there wasn’t much drinking. Not until everyone got fired. Then there was a fair bit of it.
Of course I felt like a ghoul, because I wasn’t one of the lucky ones (hell, I ended up quitting a few months later and I would have been eligible for some of that unemployment I’d been paying into forever) who got laid off. It’s hard to see it that way in the moment, though.
So pardon me this indulgence as I mark the occasion and note how much has changed since then. And I laugh to think that my main workstation was a 433mhz Alpha. Talk about stone age tech…