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 @

Friday, January 13, 2006


PLEASE NOTE: This post constantly refers to my previous post dealing with a system of 8 and 10 hour SCHEDULES that I developed for drawing Comics. If you are confused by some of my terms, you might need to go read the previous post.

So I just wrapped up two whole weeks of using "THE SCHEDULE." In 14 days I drew and/or inked for 126 hours, at an average of 9 hours a day. I completed EIGHT PAGES of Basewood Chapter Two which is almost 25% of the book. I consider it a very successful outing, and I thought I'd share some of the things that made it easier for me this time around.

I should note that while the main PRINCIPALS of The Schedule (mentally separating WORK time and BREAK time) work for single day use, or shortened periods of time, it was originally designed to be sustained over long periods of time. I know that's REALLY hard to come by. I lucked out, as I am now a full time student and had two weeks off before the next semester began. SO--here are some tips that helped me through it:

1) For almost the whole two weeks I alternated between the 10-hour schedule and an 8 hour schedule (usually the "Even Steven" variation). This was good because I was usually a little burned out after the 10-hour day, so utilizing a less-rigorous Schedule gave me more energy to tackle the NEXT 10-hour day. Previously I just did 10 hours every day, which was a lot harder.

2) Getting out of bed can be really hard for me. But one thing I thought about during this work block was ALL THE CRAPPY DAY-JOBS I'VE WORKED. Namely how I've never been late to a day of work in my life. Even if a job is stupid and mindless and pays poorly and I dislike the people I'm working with, I would still show up on time and work my shift until it was over. So THE LEAST I could do is be on time for drawing Comics! (something that I LOVE WITH ALL MY HEART, you know?) Every time that thought went through my head, I JUMPED out of bed.

3) NAPS. I really utilized naps this time around. I know they are not for everybody, but a short 15 minute nap can really help revitalize you. I usually did one during my first morning break (catching up on that lost morning sleep!) and then one in the afternoon (during the 3-5 break). This also helped me get out of bed in the morning--thinking, "Yeah, I'm sleepy, but I only have to draw for a few hours and then I can go back to bed for a bit."

4) AUDIO BOOKS! I got the "His Dark Materials" trilogy by Philip Pullman on AudioBook for xmas this year. It helped me get SO MUCH drawing done. I listened to it mostly when I was inking and I found that I was SUPER EXCITED to get back to the drawing table after my breaks, because I wanted to know what was going to happen in the story next! And the time just FLEW by. More than once I was sorely tempted to keep drawing in my break time (BUT I DIDN'T). You can also get a lot of AudioBooks on tape and CD from your local library. I also listened to a TON of This American Life.

5) Another thing I noticed this time, which is sort of similar to the "start on time" theme, is to work the WHOLE time block! A lot of times I was tempted to stop early. Like the CD I was listening to would end 15 minutes before my hour of drawing was up and I'd think "Ahhh, I'll just stop early." But instead, I'd put on a different playlist of music for 15 minutes or (GASP!) draw in silence and you'd really be amazed how much you can get done in 15 minutes! Drawing Comics is this long and arduous journey, and every little minute of effort adds up in the end!

6) FRESH AIR! After one of these days, I lay down to go to sleep and I realized that I hadn't spoken to anyone all day, or left the apartment (NOT GOOD). So after that I tried to at least walk around the block, or run an errand or two that FORCED me to go outside each day. And it helped a lot, breathing fresh air and seeing other people (that should go without saying!)

I guess that's it. For full disclosure, I should probably also add that I am completely EXHAUSTED. I did take a 2-day "break" in there too, but that was to draw a 24-hour comic (and then the day afterwards, when I only drew 2-hours NOT on The Schedule and caught up on my sleep). This stuff is great for meeting a deadline, or finishing a project, but it's no way to live your life! I don't have a significant other (as if you couldn't tell) and I have very few friends that I hang out with consistently, so it was pretty easy for me to stay THIS focused. I got lonely sometimes (especially late at night) but as always, I gain a lot of strength just from knowing that all of you and so many other Comics artists I respect are in their homes, sitting at their drawing boards, making time to draw Comics as well!

So I hope SOME of that was helpful. OH--and I've had a few people comment to me, and I know Robyn got at least one--so just to set the record straight: I DID NOT START THIS BLOG! THIS BLOG WAS STARTED BY, AND IS THE BRAINCHILD OF ROBYN CHAPMAN. And we're so lucky she did. Thanks Robyn!!!


At 2:12 PM, Blogger Cute Indian Girl said...

Very Intersting Blog Site.
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At 12:13 PM, Blogger CamChes said...

I gotta hand it to you Alec; I'm impressed. I'm stuggling to get just a few minutes/day to work on comics. Dayjob and becoming a new Father have absorbed a lot of my time. But reading al lof your posts gives me inspiration to hang in there. I like the audiobook idea. Been listening to TAL myself... Rock on!

At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Alex said...

I really have to write that this schedule is probably one of the most valuable tool I now currently have. I always looked at my work as a something to be completed right away, in one long stretch, and have worked up to 48+ hours on a book at one time.
Now I find myself producing more, at a higher quality without running the risk of pernament brain damage. And yes, Robyn rocks for starting this blog, but then again I'm sure someone who makes comics as awesome as she does already knows that.

At 1:35 AM, Blogger RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

I just discovered your site! I bookmarked it immediatly.
It's full of valuable information as well as inspiration!
Thank you so much for sharing!

At 9:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Inspirational for certain. I too shall try "The Schedule"
-thanks for sharing

At 3:59 PM, Blogger clamnuts said...

Excellent point about starting on time, I'm never late for my dayjob but sometimes postpone comic production time, Thanks for the tip

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