The Changing Role Model

I'm big on advising people to find role models to learn what to do (and what not to do).  However I've been darkly speculating that some role models as of late may not be as good as they once were because of changing economic and technological conditions.

Specifically, be careful of your role models in fiction writing, manga, and comics.  Those media who are experiencing rapid industry and distribution change.

I'm not saying you can't learn from your favorite artists and authors, but these are areas of the geekonomy that are underground rapid change.  Publishing is having issues, web distribution is up, serial fiction is poking around a potential comeback.  Written and graphic media is changing rapidly.

This means that even your best role model may have less to teach you as they became famous and respected in a different environment than you are.  Even someone who hit the big time as  a writer or artist or mangaka a few years ago was in a far different world than you are now.

So when you go looking for lessons from your favorite role models, keep in mind what is relevant today and what isn't.  You may even need to seek new role models to learn from.  Your comic idol from ten years ago may have less to teach you than you can learn from Penny Arcade or Girl Genius today.  There may be no new J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer ever – their success stories may be no longer relevant.

What made success even a few years ago is not the same as today in some media markets..  It's a hard lesson, and it makes learning from others harder, but it's something we have to face.

As for what is coming next?  We'll, I've been speculating and may try that in another column . . .

– Steven Savage