Make Comics Forever!!

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

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Don't Go It Alone

Drawing comics--especially comics for print, which no one will see for months or years--can be isolating. When I started working on my first longer story, I knew my biggest challenge would be to motivate myself in a vacuum. Here are a few ways I've dealt with the solitude of drawing, and made it a little more social.

1) CONSCRIPT AN AUDIENCE

When I start to draw a book, I recruit several friends (anyone with whom I'm comfortable sharing rough work) and give them access to a special web directory. Every few days I upload new pages into this directory, my audience reads through it, and occasionally I'll get feedback. The important thing is for me to feel like I'm drawing for someone other than myself, like someone is waiting with bated breath for the next chunk of pages. In the absence of an involved comics editor, this system works for me.

2) SHARE YOUR STUDIO

I've shared studio space with my husband since last year, and it's definitely helped increase my productivity. If Mal's cranking out page after page next to me, I'm more likely to get to work, and having someone around to see me slack off helps keep me from donig so. He's also great for feedback if I can't get a panel to work, or if I need someone to photograph me while I pose for reference.

If you don't live with an artist, think about renting studio space and sharing it with another cartoonist, or even an illustrator or fine artist. If you're a full-time cartoonist or freelance this makes sense, because you'll be separating yourself from the distractions of working from home.

3) FIND A COMMUNITY

Without the support of cartoonists I've met on the internet, there is no way I'd be drawing comics today. Get to know the locals! Join Livejournal, an important networking tool, and "friend" everyone you know--plus anyone you admire. This is a great way to get instant feedback on your work, and the site allows you to control who sees what you post, so it's more private than asking for crits on a message board. Join or browse a couple message boards, too; you'll probably run into board members again online, or in person at conventions. Of course, the trick is not to let these sites turn into time-wasters.

If you're more interested in meeting cartoonists in your area, consider joining (or forming) a cartooning group. It may not always be intellectually stimulating, but at least you'll get to meet others who care about the minutiae of pen nibs or the properties of different brands of ink.

4) GO TO CONS

They're expensive, but they're important. In addition to meeting your peers and fans, and getting your work into the hands of publishers, you'll come home inspired, energized and ready to DRAW. Seeing how many other people are toiling away out there, drawing in their bedrooms and on their lunch breaks, scamming copies and screenprinting covers in their basements, makes coming home to another blank page a lot less lonely.

Good luck! :D

9 Comments:

At 12:49 AM, Blogger Alec said...

Hope-
I couldn't agree more! This was a wonderful post that I hope a lot of people will take to heart. Being a part of the community is SO important! Thanks for the inspiring words.

 
At 2:25 PM, Blogger robinhoodie said...

Oh man, yeah going out to cons. I mean, I went to my first con (SPX) with MK Reed just to hang out and be her helper. Just seeing so many awesome people doing so many awesome things is what convinced me I had to start doing comics. I had been involved in other artsy and political activities before comics, but the comunity I found through comics is second to none.

 
At 6:08 PM, Blogger Hope Larson said...

Hey Robin, I just read the second half of Stupid & Unkind the other day, and I really enjoyed it. Thanks! :)

 
At 12:28 AM, Blogger CamChes said...

Great blog Hope. I'm slowly trying to integrate into the comics community. Very good advice all around.

 
At 4:51 PM, Blogger Drew said...

holy hell I friggin love this site! this is my first visit and I've already learned sooo much! great advice Hope, thanks.

 
At 8:31 PM, Blogger robyn said...

I'm a big supporter of cartoonist groups! When I lived in Brooklyn I met for weekly cartooning parties with AWP (Artists With Problems.) I think I'll make a post about this.
Thanks for the great advise Hope! PS- I'll send out your True Porns right away.

 
At 1:27 PM, Anonymous Jason A. Quest said...

For me, "share your studio" is roughly equivalent to "wire a car battery to your nipples and have someone give you a jolt every minute and a half". Either way I'd get nothing accomplished and run screaming from the building before long. I'm sure it's great for some people, but I need solitude to get anything done.

 
At 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing made me happier then last year's Animaritime and our steady group of 5-6 Artists in the artist alley. It was nice to sit and draw with people, and quite energizing!
Thanks for all the cool tips

Andre' ^_^

 
At 4:28 PM, Anonymous Andrew Luke said...

Sharing a studio has a nice concept aspect. Takes mentally stable minds though, tolerance and understanding. I've shared space with an artist who sought inspiration in daytime television, and arrangement ended with raised wine bottles and screaming fucks.

 

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