How Timothy Lim Avoids Comic Industry Blacklisting
No art school, no problem.
Timothy Lim’s work, from Trumpian bunnies to Anime Mike Pences, happened after a series of happy accidents and hustle.
Lim grew up drawing, but his family didn’t see art as a reliable profession.
“We’re taught to be lawyers, engineers … by trade, I’m an audiologist,” Lim says. He ended up in merchandising, not medicine. The former inadvertently led to his true calling.
“It was sink or swim,” he says of the business. “Whenever you put merchandise out … it has to sell in the first two or three weeks.”
So he “begged and pleaded” with the resident artists to share their techniques for creating poster art and other merchandising visuals. Some YouTube lessons filled in the rest.
“Finally, after five years of doing this, I reached a moment where I didn’t have to try,” he says, adding he now had the artistic resources to solve problems on his own.
From there, he worked faster and faster to get assignments done. He’d keeping saying, “yes” to brutally short deadlines, and simply figured out a way to file them on time.
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Lim’s career took another fortuitous turn in 2016. He met fellow artist Brett Smith through a “blacklisting of conservatives” connection. They realized introducing an original pop culture concept would be “an uphill battle.” So they kept looking for creative openings.
“We noticed there were no pro-Trump pop culture books,” he recalls. “After Obama won, the shelves were flooded with pro-Obama comic books.”
Enter the humorous kiddie book ”Thump: The First Bundred Days,” co-created with his longtime collaborator, Mark Pellegrini. Nine printings later, Lim realized he had struck a nerve.
His recent ‘Trump’s Space Force’ comic raised nearly 500 percent of its IndieGogo.com goal and was highlighted by prominent media voices such as Dr. Sebastian Gorka, Donald Trump, Jr, and Jack Posobiec. And his most recent book with Mark Pellegrini, ‘Wall-Might’ (which itself is a sequel to their first Trump comic, ‘My Hero MAGAdemia’), sold out of its limited run with two weeks of their campaign to spare.
Lim, whose artistic career includes creating officially licensed merchandising art for We Love Fine (Marvel, Lucasfilm, Hasbro, and Nickelodeon), teamed with comic book legend Chuck Dixon for “Trump’s Space Force.” Together, they turned the president’s ambitious goals into a rollicking space adventure.
Lim’s audience cheers his MAGA-friendly approach.
“I get a lot of gratitude from Trump supporters. ‘I’m glad you put this out .. there was never someone catering to us,’” they tell him.
The responses have shifted of late, and in some unexpected ways.
“We now get reviews from liberals, and the liberals like it,” he says, but he isn’t surprised. “We don’t write these books as propaganda … it has to be designed in a way that’s genuinely funny, irrespective of which side you’re on.”
It helps to have a comical muse like a certain Commander in Chief.
“The President is naturally funny,” he notes. “When we write the President we try to write him in the voice he has. If you’re on the Left, you feel like we’re making fun of him. The Trump voice is so unique.”
Lim may not “look” like your typical Trump fan to those unwilling to peer beyond their ideological blinders. He’s an Asian-American artist, but that hardly protects him from the attacks lodged against other “Deplorabes.”
He says both The Mary Sue, a woke news site, and Media Matters for America slammed him as a white supremacist. Sites like Salon.com picked up that meme, he says. It even leaked into a Wikipedia page for “Transformers.”
“That’s just Fake News,” he says.
Lim says the attacks have subsided of late, but he’s aware that being overtly pro-Trump has career ramifications. He’s already had comic convention invites abruptly rescinded, and he knows what right-of-center talents face in the comic book realm.
Blacklisting didn’t stop in the 1950s, according to Lim. He’s proud to have landed two cover assignments for Marvel/IDW’s “Spider-Man” line despite industry blowback.
“Marvel is notorious for blacklisting creators,” he says. “My name made it through the filter. That means something, I guess.”
He’s blazing his own entrepreneurial trail rather than fight the inevitable blowback.
“On the plus side, we don’t really care,” he says of his fellow right-leaning artists. “My co-writer and I have had numerous successes doing our own thing.”