Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Be Lazy And Get More Work Done

Wallace Wood was a legendary American comic artist who was one of the highest paid cartoonists in the 50s. When he worked at MAD Magazine, he got $200 dollars per page. Roughly 1,800 in today’s dollars.

But Wallace Wood’s break didn’t last long.

By now psychiatrist Frederic Wertham had led the spearhead of the war on comics for over a decade. Saying that graphic novels gave children a taste for blood and caused youths to become delinquents.

Postwar America was especially sensitive to these types of ideas. Religious organisations regularly organised comic burnings and politicians held congressional hearings where comic publishers were treated as mobsters.

The definitive blow to the comic-book industry would come after the psychiatrist published his book in ‘54. Within two years after publication, more than a dozen publishers and hundreds of cartoonists were forced to quit and switch careers.

When the demand for comic books plummeted, Wallace’s earnings went along with it.

He took jobs wherever he could and eventually landed a gig at Marvel in ‘64 as an inker for the new Daredevil title.

Despite the kind words, this job earned him only $45 per page. While by no means a poor wage, it was a far cry from what he earned ten years ago.

To earn the same as he did for MAD magazine, Wallace would have to produce four pages at Marvel.

A challenge he knew he could win. But not without a system.

Wallace soon came up with 22 panels that always worked to move the story forward. He hung the panels up in his office as a reminder to focus on the big picture and not get lost in trivial details.

Together with the panels, Wally also framed his new motto: “Never draw anything you can copy, never copy anything you can trace, never trace anything you can cut out and paste up.”

All this may give the idea that Wallace was a lazy cartoonist. But his approach actually cuts to the heart of what a comic book artist is: 

You don’t get paid to think, only for the pages that you hand in at the end of the day. So any time your pen doesn’t touch the page is time wasted.

We could all learn from Wallace Wood by asking ourselves the next two questions:

What are you getting paid for and could you speed up that process by following a system?

It’s okay to be lazy if it gets more work done.

P.S. Wallace Woods wasn’t just about the money. He often enjoyed working for less than at Marvel when he was offered total creative freedom and the gig seemed fun.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach