You can’t please everyone

Oh boy, oh boy, it’s time for fan mail! I’ll take a look at the ol’ Facebook message box. I got one! Let’s see what it says:

nasty little message

I love fan mail!

I’ll start with my humble thanks. I’m not being sarcastic. Seriously, thank you, dear critic. Although veiled, this is a huge compliment. To be compared with someone as uniquely talented and accomplished as Edward Gorey is a compliment of the highest order.

Next, let me address my critic’s question of where my work originates. I guess my brain?

My critic is not the first to compare me with Edward Gorey. Gorey is an obvious influence. Dark humour is a very small niche category and Mr. Gorey has made a staggering mark as one of the greats. My black pen drawings and affinity for short poems make comparison easy.

Dan Holst Soelberg's drawing of Edward Gorey

My drawing of the legendary Edward Gorey, originally posted on Facebook February 22, 2010

While I’m carving out my place in the world, it’s inevitable that I will be compared with others more famous and established. It’s human nature to categorize, and it works in my favour. It helps people figure me out, and hopefully helps publishers and shops categorize my work so it reaches a broader audience. Since I started exhibiting at literary festivals and comic conventions nearly two years ago I have heard hundreds of comparisons. Edward Gorey comes up. Tim Burton. Charles Addams. Shel Silverstein. Roald Dahl. Heinrich Hoffmann. On a few occasions I have been compared with Edward Lear, a sentimental favourite of mine.

I am indebted to those who came before me. They paved the way to give my work a frame of reference. They made whimsical, weird and dark humour my happy home.

This is the point where I insert a little note. Here’s my “but”, if you will. While I remain humble in the shadows of Gorey, Burton and Addams, there is a point when every creator must assert that his work stands on its own merit. I acknowledge the greatness of others because their work is truly awe-inspiring and deserves recognition. But, I don’t think I need to acknowledge the greatness of others in order to give my own work legitimacy.

I have fans that have never read a book by Edward Gorey, and appreciate my work. What my critic might find interesting is that I have fans that are the most loyal Edward Gorey fanatics you could meet, and they appreciate my work just the same. One of the reasons I keep doing this is the resoundingly positive and encouraging feedback I receive. Every creator endeavors to find his medium, and this is mine. I am bursting with passion for the work I do. If you’ve read recent posts on this blog you know that I am shopping for an agent with my fourth book, and I am currently working on my fifth. I have filled many notebooks and sketchbooks with scribblings, so you can be sure to expect a lot more from me.

And if you want to share your thoughts and comments, please feel free. I appreciate the feedback.