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Adapting to an industry that's getting worse: Dave Scheidt on the illusion of 'breaking in'

Dave Scheidt on why 'staying in' the industry should be the focus, not 'breaking in'

Screenshot of tweet that reads "I use to hear people saying things like "breaking into an industry is easy! Staying in is what's "really hard." and holy shit is that true with what's going on with both publishing and animation right now. No one prepares you or teaches you how to handle corporate rug pulls"
Image credit: Dave Scheidt

Last week Mayor Good Boy writer and co-creator Dave Scheidt (who surprisingly does not have pets—though he loves them) posted a Twitter thread about shifting paradigms away from 'breaking into' the industry and instead realizing the struggles of staying in the industry.

As someone who wrote freelance for a good deal of my writing career, this advice really hit home, so I reached out to Scheidt, and he graciously agreed to chat with me over the phone about why he wrote this twitter thread and why he wrote it now.

"I think just in general, it's kind of a scary time for publishing and animation, just entertainment in general," he shared, "You go through this thing where you think 'Finally, I made it,' and you have all these other struggles that you could have never predicted are going to happen." In his Twitter thread, Scheidt refers to "corporate rug pulls," which, in the light of the news coming out of Oni Press and Warner Bros Discovery, seem more commonplace everyday.

As to why so many artists who aspire to have a professional career focus on the 'breaking in' or the 'one big break' paradigm, Scheidt replied, "Honestly, I think it’s a bit of romanticizing art in general. We kind of have this reputation in pop culture in general, to succeed all you need to do is follow your dreams and work really hard and the opportunity will present itself."

When Scheidt speaks to artists about their careers, he takes a different approach, "I try to be really honest and up front about how, while working hard is a big part of hopeful success, luck is a huge element in making it in entertainment, and there's a million other things, there's privilege, there's who you know… that could factor in on whether or not you become 'successful.'"

It's a hard pill to swallow, but one that shouldn't be sugarcoated. However, just because something is hard doesn't mean it's not worth doing. Scheidt points on in his Twitter thread, it's important to focus on and celebrate the "small" moments and the people around you.

I asked Scheidt if he had any practical advice for creators who are in the trenches. His response: "Surround yourself with the right people who are in different parts in your career. I know personally in my experience, I have no problem talking to people about… say somebody is pitching a book to a publisher that I've worked with, I'm more than happy to explain to them my experiences. I think definitely just having a network of supportive creators is super important." He also mentions how much that sort of advice and other artists' generosity helped him when he was starting out.

As for artists who have 'broken in,' but whose careers have stalled in these tough climates, Scheidt offers, "I think it's really important to keep things at a distance. You constantly hear in every industry this idea of 'Oh we're family.' I think when you're in business with somebody its not smart to put your all into that, because its super easy to be burned that way and to be taken advantage of. You're working for a company, and this may be something super personal to you, but for some other people, it's just their job. It's work for them. It's 'content'… I think its important to constantly remind yourself that this is still a business."

Follow Dave Scheidt on twitter and check out Dave Scheidt's hilarious graphic novel Mayor Good Boy Goes Hollywood.

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