Balancing creativity and parenting is no easy task, and Richy K Chandler explores the challenges in When Are You Going To Get A Proper Job?, the new graphic novel from Singing Dragon. Part autobiographical story and part self help book, it’s a fantastic mix of enjoyable and engaging story and genuinely useful advice on making the most of your time if you’re an artist or creative. So take a look and see if it inspires your inner muse!
Tariq is a cartoonist who is struggling to balance his life as an artist with that of being a father. So along with the help (and hindrance) of his flaming muse, Malcolm, he attempts to redress the balances and in doing so chronicles his time balancing both parts of his life. He does this via a mix of ongoing slice of life style stories which see him struggle through school pick ups, tight deadlines, his wife working full time, as well as balancing his creative concerns with commercial necessity. But also through a series of self help infographics that break down how he goes about rectifying these problems and offering sage like wisdom to anyone in a similar place.
It’s these pages (along with the use of Malcolm the Muse) which are the real stars of the When Are You Going To Get A Proper Job, and helps elevate a fairly middle of the road story about an artist struggling to balance their life, and turns it into something both fun and informative. Our favourites being a page about The Creative Parents Circle of Guilt, and an awesome double page A Survival Guide To Working At Home With Kids which is packed fill of useful tips. They’re drawn in a slightly different style as well, utilising a more classic pen and ink cartoon style which contrasts nicely with the more colourful pages for the main story.
Chandler’s art style throughout is a mixed bag, and ranges from a quite simplistic, almost child like cartoon style which he uses for the main part, and then a more traditional, almost vintage, pen and ink cartoon style for the infographics. The colours are light and airy which gives it a really lush and bright tone to the story and stops it feeling too gloomy. While he also uses a slightly more painted/mixed media style for some later pages, which breaks up the flow and again helps make the story feel more diverse and enjoyable – as does the presence of Malcolm the Muse, whose flame like musings which make for a great narrative device.
If you’re a creative freelancer and parent (like this reviewer) then When Are You Going To Get A Proper Job is packed full of very familiar stories that really resonate. Although they may seem like every day activities, it is written in such an engaging and entertaining way, it feels both compassionate and encouraging in a way that will inspire readers to be better creatives, better parents and better people overall. It also avoids being too self indulgent and doom and gloom and makes the whole thing feel uplifting and encouraging without being too analytical. However we do worry that if you’re not self employed or artistic then it may not appeal in the same way it did for those of us who are. Which is a shame, because there is a lot of positive messages in here as well as being a fun and interesting read.