Hitting the Home Stretch
My wrist aches. My ink rag needs replacing. I have denied invitations from others to socialize. Diagnosis? HOME STRETCH.
I always get this way when I’m getting to the last quarter of a book. I spend almost all my time drawing and inking (and the only reason I’m not doing either of those right now is because my forearm and wrist are useless after a full day’s inking – my cross hatching has started to resemble that of an 80-year-old). It’s both the most difficult and the most exciting part of drawing a comic. It’s like the moment right before you kiss someone – the feeling of anticipation. However, once I’m done, well… I’m done! Until the next issue, of course, but I have production and other projects to keep me busy until I start the next one.
Alec posted some great tips below that everyone should check out, but I just wanted to add a few of my own:
1)Don’t do anything to damage or unnecessarily strain your drawing arm, especially when you are trying to keep to a schedule. Last night, I went to a concert and pumped my right arm in the air so much I had trouble finishing the inking I wanted to finish today.
2)PODCASTS, PODCASTS, PODCASTS! I can’t believe I never thought of this before. I get bored with the same old music on my iTunes, and I have one or two podcasts I regularly listen to, but for some reason I never thought of subscribing to more. I couldn’t think of something better to listen to whilst inking! Plus, it makes me feel less lonely, all holed up in my studio for days at a time.
3)Instant Messenger – a blessing and a curse. It’s great to have friends at my fingertips when I get lonely in the aforementioned studio, especially when I have a quick question or just want to share a minor frustration I’ve encountered. On the other hand, the chatting can get out of hand if you get into a heated discussion. That’s when it’s time to turn off your instant messenger and get back to work.
4)Breaks without guilt. I know this has been discussed before, but we cartoonist types tend towards the obsessive compulsive and it’s easy to be hard on oneself, as odd as that may sound. Schedule your breaks, or say to yourself “I will finish this panel in the next half hour and then I will treat myself to a banana.” I have been amazed by the results when I tell myself I will finish something in a given amount of time.
5)Rewards!! This kind of goes into what I mentioned above. A friend of mine suggested to me, when I was stuck in an unproductive rut, that he used to tell himself that once he finished a panel, he’d give himself a whole bag of M&M’s as a reward. Usually, after finishing that panel, he’d end up doing the whole page anyway, plus he’d get M&M’s, so it all worked out. I usually reward myself with a piece of fruit and a 15-minute internet break after each page penciled or inked.
6)Don’t forget about life! Outside of my day job and my comicking, I force myself to do at least one social thing a week, even if I’m in HOME STRECH mode as I am right now. You need it even if you think you don’t.
7)I find this little snippet from Dave Sim super inspirational and I read it whenever I feel like I'm trying too hard to be "perfect." I'm not fond of Sim's rampant misogyny, but his thoughts on comics and self-publishing are borderline genius.
Okay, well I’ve rambled on for way too long already, so I’ll stop here and go to bed. Happy comicking everyone!