Contrary to popular belief, being an illustrator and comic book artist doesn’t bring in the big bucks. Most of the people that ply the trade are freelancers who go from project to project without a guarantee of repeat business.
It’s especially hard to pursue your lifelong passion when dire real-life situations get in the way, but for comic book artist Josel Nicolas, simply stopping his life’s work was not an option.
When both of his parents started accumulating expensive medical fees, namely for his mother’s eye operation and his father’s heart surgery, Josel turned to one thing he knew how to do to pay for them: his art.
He is devoting the entire proceeds of the third printing of his illustrated book, Windmills, to paying for his parent’s medical expenses. He actually began creating the serialized comic back in 2009, inspired by the medical battles his father has had to face.
“Honestly one of the biggest goals I have in ‘Windmills’ is to talk about sickness. I feel like my father falling ill has shaped my life greatly. He had a freak car accident when I was young and afterwards we discovered a pretty big benign tumor, which we had removed, but it left him without balance and with some speech problems (he sounds like he’s angry all the time and forgets words),” Nicolas shared in an interview with GMA News Online. “Although I have yet to actually write more about my dad’s illnesses, it does show up intermittently in some issues,” he adds.
“I have been taking care of him on and off since I was 10. I’m actually pretty used to holding his hand and walking him around, taking him to the toilet, et cetera,” Nicolas continued. “He never really full recovered, but he’s soldiered on since then and we’d gotten used to him being an old man, but last year was pretty rough financially, when he was hospitalized for impacted feces.”
Being an artist in the Philippines is a tough gig, especially since there’s really no guarantee for Josel he can find steady work. Still, he pushes on because of his love for the medium and the way it allows him to express himself.
“It’s very fulfilling, and tiring…with that said I hate it. I do a lot of government and private jobs that I don’t slap my name on just so its not confused with my personal work,” Nicolas said. “And with that said I love the medium, it teaches you so much on how to see things, how to write things down. It’s labor intensive and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Josel’s sister has managed to pay off the hospital bills for his parents, but he’s still plugging away to help his family through their financial woes. “I just want to make it clear also that my father is out of the hospital now, we have paid the bill. My sister’s footing more for it for now, pero hahabol ako,” he says.
Windmills has garnered positive reviews from members of the artist community, and is now on its third run. You can download Windmills online entirely for free here, and you can check out the book’s official Facebook page here.