Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Guru Syndrome

Do you like to think? Does it make you restless when you don't understand the reason for things you observe?

Or do you look for a guru? Someone who will tell you what to do, generally for the price of their own aggrandizement?

The levels of independence and critical analysis in how you approach webcomics say a lot about your prospects for success.

You can usually tell you're following a guru if fantasies of success are displacing hard thinking about what you must do next. Another warning sign is when drawing becomes a chore to be put off, rather than a pleasure that pushes aside other priorities.

Gurus like to be in charge, and surround themselves with toadies. They get testy when you ask them blunt questions, and are likely to arrange a stab in the back for you if you keep at it.

Gurus do perform a public service. They reveal the people who are dumb enough to follow them. They are one of many screens you can use to sort out who has a webcomic future and who doesn't.

Many who follow gurus are achingly, longingly craving acclaim, and the guru's gentle chuckles and pats on the head help bandage the void. This is why people make fools of themselves defending gurus: it's like smack. They can't quit them and face the aching alone.

I occasionally talk with cartoonists who are under the spell of a guru. Their demeanor is "tensely polite." They worry I am going to put them on the spot.

A guru can have extremely disorganized thinking as long as they convey their main message coherently. Often, it can be as simple as, "Hey, we're gonna get stuff done! Everyone rally around!" For lazy intellects and people without drive, it is a much more appealing concept than apprenticing themselves to the trade and striving to improve. And it delays the ultimate reckoning: they are not that good or not that driven.

Judging from the work some of the disciples crank out, they don't feel they have to leverage any effort at all. They just go on dreaming.