Cartoons Were Sanctuary Against Bullies, Quarreling Parents and Loneliness

Melissa Albino writes for Bleeding Cool:

It’s hard to believe there was a time in my life I didn’t draw cartoons. By now, it’s as natural as breathing. But if I really sit down and remember, it started when I was five years old. Growing up was tough, and finding happiness seemed impossible sometimes. Cartoons were more than just something I enjoyed, it was my sanctuary when dealing with childhood woes like bullies, quarreling parents, and loneliness. My love for cartoons was strong and as life improved, it only grew even stronger.

I learned pretty early I wanted to make cartoons to entertain others, just like the cartoons of my youth entertained me! I started telling stories with my cartoons,and with that, I discovered my outlet through comics. More than just a tool for storytelling, comics was a way I expressed myself, my true self. That was two years ago, and I’ve been making cartoons ever since.

00003colorMy name’s Melissa and I’m a comic artist. I created the webcomic, Lighter than Heir. It started with just a small doodle of a girl flying through the sky. The more I added details, the more I learned about her.

Her name is Zeppelin Von Schultheiss and she was popular in her home country, but not from her own accomplishments. Her father, the famous Hemmel Von Schultheiss, was a war hero known far and wide for saving the world. So what? She’s just as good as him, if not better. She’s tenacious, confident, and she can fly too. On her 19th birthday, she applies for the military with plans to outdo his accomplishments… but… can she handle the heat of army life…especially her psychotic drill sergeant?

After 2 years, over 300 pages, and thousands of dedicated readers, I believed they deserved something really special for their commitment to my project. I started revising and coloring the comic for print.  After countless hours of revising, coloring, promoting, studying Kickstarter basics and producing an animated pitch video, the Lighter than Heir: Volume One project was ready to go… or so I thought.

comparisonThe last week and a half was incredible. After reaching out to my kindest friends, family, fans, and supporters, they have all done their best to spread the news and share the comic. Web friends behind the works of Blaster Nation, Sister Claire, Namesake, Bittersweet Candy Bowl, TOME,  the Hiveworks, Newgrounds, Tomorrow Jones, and shares from multiple social networks got together to promote my comic, and with that, the comic reached 21% of our goal in just 9 days. I was floored by the kindness from all these people. But like things go… there are obstacles.

Hitting a plateau is to be expected, but after all the help from all my loved ones and supporters, momentum has slowed down and we still come up significantly short. I was kicking myself thinking of what would come from failing. So many of my friends were supporting my project. They would be so disappointed.

00010I had not-so-supportive associates discouraging me as well. “It’s just a hobby, don’t put so much investment in this. Go get a real job. You can’t make a living off comics.” Surely, they couldn’t be right. How the heck are there comic studios then? I can’t give up… not yet. We’ve come so far.

I stumbled across Bleeding Cool and saw Mr. Johnston’s email. I took a shot, I sent the email, asking if he could write up something for my comic. A week later, I never anticipated I could be offered a chance of writing an article! To write an article for Bleeding Cool feels like such an honor. It’s pretty amazing to share what I love with such great people.

To celebrate the occasion, I have to do something! It’s the least I can do! I’ve introduced a new reward tier that includes a custom cartoon portrait of your choice with a physical book preorder, plus the PDF and a wallpaper. Other bonuses I may introduce later are livestreaming the revising, adding an additional mini print, and perhaps even future book enhancements if the funds allow it.

00014It’s been quite exhilarating, these last two years in comics. It’s had its bumps, and I’ve met many of new friends along the way. I never felt more comfortable than in this community. Now we’re at a point where our lives could completely turn around. If it means a better chance at entertaining people, I would gladly accept.

Thanks for your time! You can find me at Lighter than Heir, the Lighter than Heir: Volume One Kickstarter, and Tumblr.

About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.