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, March 17, 2006

Stretched Too Thin

Firstly, I want to apologize for neglecting this blog I started. I have to admit, I experienced a lack of faith. My enthusiasm waned after I heard that Yoshihiro Tatsumi had once done 50 pages in one night. How could I ever compete? Sure he had assistants, but...
Another thing is I have way too many commitments right now. I have two jobs, I'm working on 3 comics and 1 zine, plus I have my community and school obligations. What can I do to get out of this mess?
I know the first step it just say no to new projects. And I try, I really do.
Does anyone have any tips on juggling too many projects? I have a daily planner and that helps.


At 11:16 AM, Blogger Liz (Baillie) said...

It's all about time management, I think. I try to schedule when I will work on what, for how many hours, etc. It's easy to get overwhelmed with so many obligations, but I find that scheduling things to the hour really helps, and sticking to that schedule is the most important part. It's about saying "no" to fun stuff that gets in the way of your work (like last night it was SO hard to say no to St. Patty's Day drinking fun, but I did), but remembering to schedule in time for fun so you don't go crazy, as well as scheduling in some slacking time in your week when you can just chill out and read or something. I know that scheduling has been discussed here already, but I don't think it can be stressed enough! Anyway, that's my two cents on the matter.

At 11:12 PM, Blogger Mikhaela said...

Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. A few months ago I was in a particularly productive mood and thought I could even manage to draw TWO comic strips a week instead of one. But then I started doing my taxes and realized I had totally neglected all the billing and keeping track of my cartooning expenses and invoices, and I realized I need to totally redesign my website, and try to build up readership and eventually publish a real trade paperback book and now I feel totally overwhelmed.

At 11:20 PM, Blogger Alec said...

Robyn, I wouldn't worry too much about this blog. Just because you started it doesn't mean you have to constantly "keep tabs" on it and post new things.

I could be wrong, but I think there is a pretty good following at this point, and it's sort of the nature of this blog that there will be times where there are lots of posts (when we have ideas about productivity!), and other times where there won't be many posts (when we are all busy drawing!)

So don't beat yourself up about it! It sounds like you have plenty of other stuff to occupy your time right now! That's my two cents anyways...

At 9:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would suggest you simply learn to focus and prioritize. And relax!

If you try to cram everything in and feel you ought to be doing a thousand things, nothing will get done. Or at least nothing will get done very well and this will make you feel worthless. Identify what is most important to you and concentrate on doing that task to the best of your abilities. This is how you grow: as you start to reach the edge of your ability you start to see how to stretch beyond those limitations the next time you have to do that task. And accept that some things simply will not get done as a consequence of you spending a lot of time on the things that mean the most to you. Hopefully you will quickly recognize what will actually get done and what just lies around gathering dust and in the future don’t agree to take on the dust gathering project again- no matter the money offered. You will inevitably end up rushing through the project to get it finished on time and compromising your abilities and you will deliver a substandard piece of art that the client is prioritize in.

And finally Relax! Life is to be lived and yo should definately go out and get wrecked on St. Patricks day. If for no other reason that you will actually have some real life experiences to reflect back into your work, making it stronger. And there is nothing better than standing back from a piece to reasses it.

At 8:30 PM, Blogger Colin Tedford said...

I'm not real good at project-juggling, myself. Schedule mercilessly and prioritize, break it down into small pieces, those are the tacks I'm trying to take. I also like to switch off projects - when I start to get a little bored, tired, or in a rut working on one thing, I can move to a different one that feels fresher for a while. This can work even on a small scale, where after a couple hours I'm spending more time looking at what I've done than drawing, I can change strips and keep moving.

It would be awfully ironic if a blog about comics productivity pulled you away from work! The contributor list looks large; I don't think there's cause for worry. Remember to breathe...

At 12:06 PM, Blogger Mal Jones said...

It's only in like the past month I feel like I finally have a handle on some sort of a schedule.

I'm stretched pretty thin at the moment, and that's my own fault. The good thing about is it did cause me to make a total re-evaluation of time and priorities, and made me love my moleskine sketchbook. It is now my official freelance planner too.

A big thing that helps me when I'm stretched thin is to tell my clients the truth and that it may be some extra time (before the deadline) and set up a few big goals... like this week I'm getting this and this done No more than three, so that I can get sense of accoplishment which helps push me on to the next thing that needs to get done.

This has been to you by the Mal Jones Fucking Up Alot and Learning From It Experience (tm).

At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

think in shovels, not in teasoppns.

At 8:47 PM, Blogger Megan Baehr said...

I am not impressed by someone who turns out 50 pages in a night with or without assistants. I'm not familiar with Yoshihiro Tatsumi's work, but no matter how nice the 50 pages looked after one night's work, it would have come out 100 times better if he took more time (or if he had more time) to work on it. This said, I don't think that you should let this discourage you.

As for liz's comment about missing St. Patrick's Day to work? That's the saddest thing I have ever read. I agree that there's a time to work and a time to play, but if you don't go out and live your life, you're going to miss out on those life experiences that will, in turn, make your work rich and beautiful.

At 8:50 PM, Blogger Megan Baehr said...

Oops, I totally made myself sound like and idiot. I DO know who Yoshihiro Tatsumi is. I'm just terrible with names and it hit me after I hit the post button. I'm going to go hide in a dark hole now.

At 12:30 AM, Anonymous Josh Farkas | Water Media said...

Personally, I go in phases.

Winter I pick up a pencil and pen and pour on the pages. Once Summer rolls around, I hate cartooning and everything about it. A few months go by where I never touch my desk, and then Winter hits and I'm back in the mood.

I find expecting a consistant flow is a great way to ensure your passion becomes a chore.

One final diatribe - The idea that 50 pages in a day isn't a gift is hilarious. There seems to be this belief that if you aren't laboring over ever single line it isn't "art".

Well comics aren't "art", they're a commercial art. I'd rather have 10,000 pages of commercial art that I can choose the best from, than 50 with the frail hope they will live on.

At 11:05 AM, Blogger Jennifer B. said...

I just wanna disagree with the "comics aren't art" comment; I'm an artist making comics for my own purposes, not commercially (although I wouldn't turn down any good offers). I'm finding comics to be a great outlet for me during a time when I can't afford to rent time at the local printshop.

At 7:10 PM, Anonymous Efraim Siounis said...

Seems like you got a bad case of maximus projectisu-at-oncevius definitely will lead to alwatvah-stresskus. Very nasty.

I recommend you cut things that don't make you directly happy and sane. Like I duno- for example: I’ve cleverly reduced my none work time to the very bare bones. Before I’d play video games, masturbate and browse the internet for things that will give me a false sense of appreciation. Sometimes I end up chatting with someone on msn, which would fall into the later.
Now I started working on movies again I can't seem to find the time to do everything so I cut things that I enjoy like playing video games. I want to do it, but don't need to. With that cut I find much more time in-between tasks.

Another thing is like no social life. I always used my social life to keep me sane and out of the depressed zones but it takes away from my work time. So I replace it with the bare bones. What did I do? I started avoiding meeting new people, got a girl friend and stick close to my better friends. I make social contact now once every three days and since the people I surround myself with are reliable I know I will have a good time in a shorter period of time.

Another technique I use um.. I call it ‘derailing’ Here, let me give you an example: Every time I have the urge to be MORE social I masturbate or eat something delicious to derail the thought and go back to drawing.
Or- i dunno if you have this problem, but I got my work split into two: shit Id rather not be doing and shit Id rather be doing. So after like working 6 hours on paid stuff and I suddenly really want to get laid or drunk or watch a movie or just sleep and never wake up, I derail the thoughts with a good brush pen and very very violet sketch (violet rocks) which might even snowball and get me to do some work on my personal projects. then- with new moral- I tackle other paid work!

I hope my advice was helpful.


At 7:10 PM, Anonymous Efraim Siounis said...

On another note:
Megan: HUGE assumption. I’ve seen some really shitty pieces of art that people have been working on for years! Like, I duno how you measure good art- and since art is interpretive it becomes relative. Anyway- I don’t care about how an artist puts things together, well not always. What I mean is, as professional I can appreciate getting 50 pages done in one night, and if the pages were good I can appreciate that to. Essentially what I’m saying is (leaving my tangent and going back to the point) is that your assumption is wrong. Hours of work don’t equal quality work. Quality work is relative and can come from 1 hour to eons of hours. Like lets say you read the 50 pages and you were like “Amazing!” then you find out it was in one night. You wouldn’t say “Oh- well forget that then.” Am I right?
Josh: Comic books are definitely art. Shame on you for thinking otherwise. They can also be a commercial medium. But what isn’t? Anything can be pimped and anything can be glorified.
I hope I changed your opinion.

Love you all.


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