7/19/2007

Homeward Bound (after San Diego, of course)

Before I drove out to Los Angeles to begin my internship at BOOM! Studios (Check out the site, buy some comics, why don't ya?), I raised the possibility of being offered a job while I was out here to my parents. That sounds perhaps a tad more vain and egotistical than I intend it to be. People are offered jobs where they intern all the time, no? I simply didn't want to be caught flat-footed were a job offer to come my way. I wanted to be prepared, to know what I was going to say, other than the requisite, "I'll need some time to think about it." My parents, of course, stressed their desire for me to finish school, as I knew they would. I tried to set benchmarks, like, "If the offer is this much, then I'll take it," and my parents smiled and nodded and probably secretly hoped an offer wouldn't come, so that I wouldn't be tempted to not finish school.

As strange as it might sound, and believe me, it's weird for me just writing this, I've actually enjoyed going to school these past couple of years. I'd been away for so long, I didn't know what to expect, especially from myself. Given that I hadn't actually taken college seriously since my first year at Youngstown State (which, I have to say, was a pretty easy year as far as classes go), I didn't know if I could take it seriously anymore.

But I was determined. I had pissed away my early and mid-20s working crap jobs, whiling away the days years by fooling myself into thinking that one day I'd go back to school again, as I kept enrolling and dropping out every couple of years or so. When I came back from California in early 2005, I set for myself the goal of finally, after all those idling years, finishing school and getting a degree in something. Anything. By that point, all I wanted was that damned piece of paper. I almost didn't care what my major was going to be.

And here I am, nearly two years after those first trepidatious summer classes back at Metro, 10 months away from getting that degree, in Journalism of all things. Graduating from college has been the singular goal of my life for the past couple years. I wouldn't let anything get in my way. I was even going to bed at reasonable times most nights, so I'd get my eight hours of sleep. Nothing was going to deter me from finishing school. And then I was confronted with something that gave me pause: a job in the comic book industry.

As we're hopefully all aware by now, I'm a big geek. Movies, TV, comics, novels, I proudly and openly wave my geek flag. I like what I like and I don't care what anyone thinks about it. I've wanted to write comics since I was in middle school, when I first realized that people actually got paid to make stuff up and put it on paper. I read as many books as I could, all the "classics" of the medium: Will Eisner, Frank Miller, Alan Moore. I immersed myself in the history of the industry. (Did you know the original comic book publishers were Jewish gangsters who also published pornography?)

Next week is the San Diego comic book convention, the biggest, craziest five days on the comic book schedule. The industry practically grinds to a halt as everyone makes their plans. I've had my post-convention plans in place for a month or so now, head up to San Francisco to visit Rose & Johnny, and Kristie, and then head on back to Omaha to get ready for the upcoming Fall semester, which begins on August 27. As we've been drawing closer to the convention, to my final days here at BOOM!, I began to wonder if and when a job offer might come. We were running out of time, and, for a short time, I was kind of hoping it wouldn't happen, so I wouldn't have to make the decision.

But then Ross asks me into the conference room and we have a little chat, during which he asks me to, instead of heading home from San Francisco, drive back down here to L.A. and begin working for BOOM! Ross proceeded to sell the company to me, which, to be honest, wasn't really necessary. I know a lot of what's coming for BOOM! and it's all pretty incredible stuff. From my first week here, I got the feeling that this company was going to, if you'll pardon the pun, explode onto a bigger stage. Speaking simply as a comic book fan and not as someone who's spent the past couple of months working for the company, I'm pretty excited about some of the projects that BOOM! has in the works. I would love to work for this company. When I'm back in Omaha, I'm going to feel like I'm missing out on all the cool stuff. I was, to be honest, more tempted to accept the offer than I thought I'd be. It was a difficult decision, until I spoke with my cousin, Terri.

Terri runs a production company here in Los Angeles. She's lived and worked out here for a while now and I figured she'd be a good sounding board for my concerns. Her opinion, because of her experience out here, was going to carry a lot of weight with me, moreso than pretty much everyone else whose advice I solicited (no offense, everyone). And, while speaking with Terri, she reminded me of one of the reasons I went back to Omaha to finish school in the first place.

She said that when she looks to hire someone at her office, an assistant or whatever, she won't even consider them if they don't have a college degree. And that reminded me of when I used to sit in my apartment in Fullerton, scanning the Internet for jobs in L.A. And I'd come across just the lowest possible entry-level jobs ... and they all required a college degree. To work in a mail room at a production company, you need to have a degree. And I remembered how surprised I was when I first realized that, back in '04/'05. And I remembered that the reason I'm out here in the first place, the only reason I drove across the country to work for BOOM! Studios: so I would receive credit for school, so I could graduate from college.

And it all sort of clicked into place after that realization.

Just being offered the job was ... I don't know if I can describe the feeling. I'm just so appreciative of the opportunity Ross gave me this summer. He and Cody have made me feel welcome and comfortable and I honestly couldn't have asked for a better experience. The job offer was icing on the cake, and part of me wanted to grab it, to, once again, say to hell with school (because, let's be honest, I know me, there's no way I was going to finish school out here if I had taken the job). But I've been so focused on school, on graduating ... I can't throw that away. Ten more months. And if BOOM! is hiring next May, I would come back to L.A. in an instant. And if they're not, oh well, y'know?

I concluded that I'm okay with passing up the job to finish school. There will (hopefully) be other job offers. But if I stayed here in L.A. and didn't graduate, there's absolutely no way I would have been able to live with myself.

3 comments:

kristieh said...

this is me, excited for you. way to go!

Chip said...

this is me, sad to see you go. Way to let me down! :P

Seriously, good luck at school! You punk!

raptorpack said...

I would like to make one correction. You're not a geek, you're a nerd. A nerd is someone like you. A geek is the other 500 people standing in front of you at a movie premire dressed in bad costumes of the characters of the current and/or previous films. A dork is other 200 in front of them with "authentic" costumes. :) Since the only costume I have ever seen you where is your black pants, with black shirt and black hat with "The Crow" on it; I feel confident in stating this claim.