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Make Comics Forever is a forum for cartoonists dedicated to improving their productivity. This is not a forum for wimps! This is not a forum for flakes! We are here to share tips and techniques on how to produce more work and better work. Become a comic-making machine! Join the discussion now! To become a member, email a request to robyn @ un-pop.com

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Cartoonist Groups - Pros and Cons

Hope's "Don't Go It Alone" post got me thinking about cartoonist groups, and the benefits (and detriments) of working within a group. I am a member of Artists With Problems, a Brooklyn based cartoonist group that meets weekly for cartooning parties / drawing sessions. When I lived in New York, my AWP meetings became an important part of my week, and I think the group really helped me grow as a cartoonist.

First, some tips when starting a cartoonist group.

1. Decide what kind of group you want create, before you start. A casual jam comic group, a goal driven collective, a team distro, etc? AWP is a small, members only, goal driven group of peers and friends who benefit socially and artistically from working together. We are focused on our individual projects and do not do jams. For us, this works.

2. Give your group a name. Give your group the right name! Names are so important.

3. Pick a time to meet and be diligent at keeping these meetings. This biggest challenge AWP had in the early days was getting people to attend regularly. But after being diligent for a few months, our Tuesday meeting became a permanent fixture on our week.

4. Pick an appropriate place to meet. In the begining AWP met at cafes. It was always a challenge to find a space with adequate table and light, and that was open during the hours we wanted to meet. Now we rotate between members' apartments. It's challenging to fit 10 cartoonist in your standard Brooklyn apartment. My suggestion: bring a drawing board!

4. Make sure the members of your group are people you like and respect. The whole point of a cartooning group is destroyed if the scene is made awkward our disruptive by incompatible people.

5. Bring snacks, wine, music, anything to make the experience fun without being distractive. Keeping a balance between being social and being productive is one of the greatest challenges of drawing groups.

The pros and cons of working in a group:

Pro: By making drawing events social events, they become more fun and less of a chore.
Con: Drawing in a group, outside your ordinary working space, can be a challenge. In all honestly, 3 hours of drawing with a group of friends is a lot less productive than 3 hours of drawing at home. But cartoonist groups have a benefit far beyond page count. Cartooning is a lonely art form, and working in a group can provide support and encouragement.

Pro: Drawing with a group of peers whose work you respect will challenge you.
Con: Drawing within a group might also make you feel inferior and discouraged. This is why your members should be friends as well as peers. You should feel comfortable with them, not intimidated.

Pro: Working within a group has many practical benefits. You can share tables and hotel rooms at cons, you can share websites, you the cost of art supplies, etc.

Pro: Cartoonist groups offer a great opportunity to share knowledge and experience. Cartoonists have a lot to teach each other.

Give cartoonist groups a try! And, to once again borrow from the wisdom of AA: "Keep Coming Back! It Works When You Work It!"

12 Comments:

At 7:43 AM, Blogger Hope Larson said...

A small, exclusive group is what I originally wanted when we formed the Halifax Cartoonists' Support Group, but unfortunately there aren't enough serious cartoonists here to support that kind of thing. Currently we meet once a month in a church, with a rag-tag band of teenaged girls, late-twenties boys (including one other pro, a friend of ours), and one 12-year-old kid. At this point I see the group as community service: encouraging other folks to draw comics so maybe there will be more of a scene someday. Right now I'm starting to think about a series of demos for stuff like inking, minicomic assembly, Photoshop basics, computer lettering... We'll see!

Is there any way to control the spam comments? 'Cause dang.

 
At 5:05 PM, Blogger Drew said...

I find the best way to control the spam comments is to just delete them when they appear. they're extremely annoying.

 
At 6:26 PM, Blogger CamChes said...

Robyn, you can control the Spam by turning on "Word Verification" in the Blog settings. Anyone who wants to post a comment has to type in a word that appears under the post-box before publishing. Gets rid of those nasty auto-spammers.
Great post Robin. I may try and arrange a small group of creators myself....

 
At 9:52 PM, Blogger Chuck Forsman said...

Wow! Nice post! I have been planning a group of my own, mostly to try and squash my lack of motivation and to meet other local artists. Your post gave me lots to think about, but what about recruiting cartoonists? Were there flyers made up for the group you belong? I have a handful of interested artists but am worried that I won't have enough to keep it going.
Good idea about drawing boards too. That solves my problem since I will be holding it in a comic shop (http://comicriot.blogspot.com/). Thanks for the post. I am very motivated to get this rolling.

Great Blog!

Thank you!

 
At 11:30 AM, Blogger Dave said...

Pleased to find this blog as it will give me something else to look at when I should be drawing pictures. But seriously - look forward to hearing more.

 
At 10:41 AM, Blogger robyn said...

Thanks Cam, I'll try that anit-spam setting.
Chuck, I was fortunate enough to live in Brooklyn, a city lousy with cartoonists. We didn't need any flyers to recruit. AWP starter with a couple of core friends dedicated to meeting. In the begining it was primarily Karen Sneider, Joan Reilly and myself. We picked a day and dedicated ourselves to that day. It took a while, but eventually the meetings became regular. Now Tuesday nights are always AWP nights.
Once AWP was established, it grew and grew. I think proving that your group is established and that your meetings are regular is important.
I think it's also important to have a group leader, and that the leader be present at every meeting. Karen is our President For Life.
Chuck, since you'll be holding your drawing night a comic shop, use that space to advertise and recruit. I think your location could really ground the group.

 
At 8:45 PM, Blogger Chuck Forsman said...

Thanks for the reply, Robyn!
That makes me feel better knowing that your group started out with a couple of people. i guess i should worry less about getting as many people as i can and focus more on a core group of folks that i know are dedicated enough to show up regularly.
Thanks so much for the motivation and tips!
I started a blog ( http://comicgrouptherapy.blogspot.com/ ) that will serve as a diary of me getting this thing going and eventually i hope to post some work done by our group after each meeting.
Which reminds me...Does anyone know any sites with tutorials or templates for these blogspot things. I don't have much knowlegde on building websites so i am in the dark on how to work with html. I just want to make my blog a little more original. Any links would be greatly appreciated!

And again, i love this blog!

 
At 10:57 PM, Anonymous Chris said...

In the long run, does joining a group actually help you become more productive as an individual?

It seems like the truly lazy wouldn't draw except when they're with the group, and that for others there will come a point where (when members become motivated enough to work on their own), commitment the group will begin to conflict with individual work.

(btw, there are two #4s in the list above)

 
At 7:32 PM, Blogger robyn said...

Well, since my post was about pros and cons, I don't have too much more to add. I think they are beneficial because they can encourage and motivate. They also promote steady work habits.
For the "truly lazy" (if there is such a thing) very little can be done. Within a group or without, creating comics takes true dedication.
Sorry about the double #4.

 
At 4:23 PM, Anonymous Andrew Luke said...

Definitely it depends upon the mixture involved. A social pub group can provide social opportunities and unforeseen collaborations. I am a great fan of the 'jam' thing yet its set me into frigid mode at the most intimate and social comics festivals. Lately though, I've moved to a town here with a few fine cartoonists and one I'm quite in awe of. Asked to jam straight away, I didn't respond for about ten minutes ! Its a paradox that such high respect should make for an inhibiting factor. Well, After a few meetings in said cartoonist's company though, I've quite happily got the A3 paper, pencil, scissors and glue out, and relaxed in aforementioned cartoonist's company. Heres to many more !

 
At 2:49 AM, Blogger Israel Market Review said...

New Comics Community Launched: BuzziNews Portal Announces an International Comics Competition with Prizes Valued at $23,000

The new portal will illustrate reality from a new perspective, giving a new text-free look to the world of internet journalism through comics and caricature.

Hod Hasharon. Israel, Nov. 7 2007. BuzziNews, a new and unique online comics community portal will illustrate world, business, sports and entertainment current events text-free through comics and caricatures. The online portal is launching its activity with an international illustration competition awarding prizes valued at $23,000.

The BuzziNews global comics community portal places the illustrations in center stage. The illustrations will portray current events and situations from the illustrator's personal perspective.

The first BuzziNews Awards Comics Competition is open to professional and amateur illustrators worldwide. Awards and prizes will be presented to winners of the contest in the four BuzziNews illustration categories: World, Business, Sports and Entertainment. Winners will be chosen by a public online vote as well as by a panel of judges, pre-chosen from among the surfing public.

The Comics Competition will begin on Nov. 8th 2007. Online voting will open on December 1st 2007 on the BuzziNews website. Winners of the comics competition will be declared on January 21st 2008. For more information, visit the BuzziNews Awards Comics Competition website at www.buzzionline.net.

To compete in the "World" category, illustrators will draw their "local" world. In the "Business" category illustrators will unleash their imagination trying to imagine the next start-up company to be bought by Google or eBay. The theme in the "Sports" category is the Beijing Olympics 2008: illustrators are asked to describe future Olympic sports. In the "Entertainment" category comics artists and illustrators are to draw a caricature of the next celebrity/star.

Rami Naori, Co-Founder of BuzziNews: "The portal was conceived in the aspiration to bring forth a new perspective and a new look to the world of internet journalism. My wife, Haya-Ayelet, and myself labored with the idea of this portal for over three years before its birth. The notion that inspired us was that it is possible to portray current events from a positive standpoint free of malevolence, to diminish evil, decrease conflicts and power struggles and convey messages in a language that’s truly universal".

Naori adds, "I hope that many illustrators will join the competition and find a home in the BuzziNews illustrators' community portal. This is a new approach that will allow illustrators, comics artists and amateurs to earn money, and we hope they will make a lot of it from future earnings of the portal".

About BuzziNews
The vision of The BuzziNews comics community portal is to provide a different perspective on world, business, sports and entertainment reality, without conflict, power struggles and malevolence, in a universal language understandable by all. The portal positions illustrators as partners and they stand to gain from future earnings. The BuzziNews Portal was founded by Rami Naori and his wife Haya-Ayelet who passed away several months before the site's launch, leaving an unwritten legacy to continue with BuzziNews – their joint project. BuzziNews allows parents and children to enjoy the site, which filters out pornography, incitement to violence and crime, racism, and other content that may offend the public. Visit the site at www.buzzinews.com

 
At 10:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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