Recently, we here at the Alliance hit upon a small milestone in our endeavors of passing along our insights and tips on creating webcomics. We recorded our 50th Workshop Podcast and it not only featured past and present members of the Alliance, it was a ton of fun chatting with all these different comic creators. But it also was a time for reflection. Well, at least for me, and I’m sure most of us here at the Alliance.
We started the Alliance with a simple goal: pass on what have learned and share what we continued to learn. None of us declared ourselves “experts” in creating comics, but rather considered ourselves equals to our readers and tried to present issues that effected us and hoped those issues would bring some light to you as well. Seems it’s working.
So, being the official old fart of the group, it got me thinking on why I started down the dark path known as Webcomics. If you apply cold logic as Mr. Spock would, it is a rather painful process we subject ourselves to as we create something then put it out there for judgment by our peers and our readers. Sometimes it is very painful as our creations bear the weight of both criticism and rejection. I’ll retrace some of my steps and let you judge if I was crazy or extremely perceptive.
At age 50, in 2007, I decided to take on the challenge of creating a new career by drawing comics. I did a little research and happened upon “Girls With Slingshots” and went “Okay, this is what I want to do.” I liked the anti-establishment way Danielle did her comic with characters swearing and taking on topics the Comic Syndicates would NEVER dare take. I was hooked. Problem was I drew like shit. Absolute crap. The original image of Bud is over there on the left and it was the best I could do at the time. I’ve come a long way, but considering the poor quality of the drawing, I’m surprised I continued on.
And there’s my point. Why did I continue? I took a lot of heat for about 2 years as I slowly improved my craft. Not only was I learning how to draw again, but I was learning how to draw DIGITALLY. Talk about teaching an old dog new tricks! I was fighting an up-hill battle the whole way. Because not only was I learning, I was displaying my progress for all to see on-line. I had one Twitter follower just bash me up and down about how terrible I wrote and drew. Then I went to his website and was not impressed with his work and decided to carry on. It’s easy to be an arm-chair critic. My first lesson learned: Ignore the nay-sayers and look for people who will give you constructive criticism. But be prepared for some harsh truths. Take each one as a motivation to improve and grow. I did. You eventually grow “thick skin”.
And I have to say the comic’s community on Twitter is normally a very receptive and sharing bunch of people. Seek out those who have similar personalities and learn a few things. Share things you’ve learned, even if you think it’s been done before. There’s always a new twist to a process. How one artist does something is not necessarily good for another. Find what’s comfortable and grow from there. As we stated in the 50th podcast: get out and draw.
So, if you are on the fence about putting you comic on-line and have some fears of rejection or not being good enough; take it from me, just do it. By forcing myself to draw comics weekly, I was able to slowly hone my craft. If I just kept it to myself, my growth would not have been as significant. By committing to publish your comic, you also test yourself to see if you really have it in your heart to draw and do it on a steady schedule. Get out and do it. Find local artists on Twitter and get together for casual “drink and draws” as those few hours of interaction with your peers will give you a ton of motivation as you discover you are not alone in this crazy world we call Webcomics.