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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 @

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

some thoughts on listening

Wow! I'm really excited by all the recent activity. I have to admit, I had lost some of the inspiration that fueled me start this blog. I think it was triggered by hearing that Yoshihiro Tatsumi (of Push Man fame) did 50 pages in one night (for the record, I have issues with The Push Man, but I can't deny Tatsumi is one hell of a cartoonist.)
50 pages in one night! After hearing that, why even bother?

But I'm reminded now of a good bit of advice my buddy Alec Longstreth told me: don't compare yourself to other cartoonists. I shouldn't try to be Daniel Clowes, or Chester Brown, or whoever. I should just try to be Robyn Chapman.

My absence was also strengthened by something very practical Kevin Heuzenga said. It was something like this: if you spend all your time writing about how to be a productive cartoonist, when will you have time to draw? It's true, it's true. So I backed off the theorizing, and put the theory to practice (more or less.)

Still, I think this blog is a valuable resource, and I have a lot to learn. I'm beginning to feel comfortable in my own work patterns, but I’m excited by some of the new ideas presented here.

My new obsession: working and listening!

It's not exactly new, I have drawn while listening to books on tape before. I find that listening to engaging audio really helps me put in the hours. Unfortunately, I haven't found a reliable source for good audio books. I had a subscription to for a while, but I'm not very happy with their selection.

I've begun to listen to podcasts, which I really enjoy (especially if they're informative or educational: working + learning, double productive!) Again, I'm faced with the same challenge: where do I find good podcasts? I've listened to some pretty crappy ones, I'd like some suggestions.

But my newest thing is chatting on the phone while I draw. My boyfriend is a cartoonist; he lives in New York, I'm in Vermont. We spend a lot of time on the phone, talking and drawing. It can be distracting at times, but it's nice to feel connected and social. Cartooning can be a lonely pursuit! When it comes to drawing on the phone, I definitely recommend buying a headset (a nice one, not a cheap one.)


At 10:38 PM, Anonymous Colleen said...

The little library in Hartford Village has a good little selection of books on tape/cd. Checked out "America, The Book" from there not too long ago.

At 6:56 AM, Blogger Liz (Baillie) said...

I just got a subscription to Audible and have been on a Depressing Irish Memoirs kick. I listened to all of Angela's Ashes and now I'm on the continuation, "Tis". It's read by the author so you get to hear his great Irish brogue, and he actually sings the songs when they come up in the book (I usually don't read songs when they come up in books). If you still have your Audible account, I'd recommend that stuff. As far as podcasts go, I listen to Indie Spinner Rack (but they only have one episode a week, if that), I Read Comics (also sparsely updated), and a bunch of news things (some BBC stuff, some NPR stuff, I want to start subscribing to some CBC podcasts as well). I used to watch movies while I drew, but I found they were too distracting, since I was always looking up to see what was going on.

At 7:14 AM, Blogger robyn said...

Liz! If you're on Audible check out Bee Season my Myla Goldberg (also read by the author.) She's a great reader. I might join audible again just to listen to her latest book, Wikett's Remedy.
I also like Fortress of Solitude, which they have.
Colleen, I will check that out. I've never been to the Hartford library.

At 3:17 AM, Anonymous Rick said...

I don't know anything about their paid products, but have several free mp3s of Mark Twain short stories (just over 1 hour of audio, altogether) that are rather well done. They have a few other free mp3s as well, but I've only listened to the Mark Twain stuff.

The site lists hundreds of books in mp3 format, also free to download. I haven't listened to any of their mp3s yet, though, so I can't speak for the quality. You have to register to use their site.

At 5:19 PM, Blogger robyn said...

Thanks Rick!

At 5:46 PM, Blogger Alison said...

A while back, I went in search of some audiobooks to listen to in the studio, but instead of an audiobook, I got a radio drama -- and it was even comics related. "Batman: The Complete Knightfall Saga" was all sorts of fun to listen to; great voice acting, solid sound effects, it's just a nice presentation over all. After listening to the CDs, I got copies of the books they're based on. Ended up liking the radio drama better.

At 10:22 PM, Anonymous Maki said...

Try out these podcasts about comics:

It's what I usually listen to while drawing. :)

At 4:53 PM, Blogger Alec said...

If you can get your hands on them, the Harry Potter audiobooks can not be beaten. Not only is it 100+ hours of engaging audio, the reader (JIM DALE) is totally incredible! He does a different voice for each of the dozens of characters and reads with a lot of energy.

Robyn, (and anyone else with hi-speed internet) should check out SKYPE which lets you talk computer to computer for FREE! When Aaron was finishing up Spiral Bound, we would sit and draw together (me in New York, him in PDX) and talk. It is more like hanging out together than talking on the phone, because you're not paying for it, so there's no rush to get off the phone. I got a TON of work done just chatting while I drew (see PHASE 7 #006!)

Audio whilst drawing! HURRAH!!!

At 1:41 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Hey Robyn!
I am obsessed with the BBC's offerings...BBC 7 has plenty of serialized drama which keep me company while I work on the computer (I am weird, I can only listen to the radio or music when I'm inking or photoshopping). Problem is, the interface sucks. so I go to this page:
Choose a program to get the player started, and then choose 'BBC 7' on the player's dropdown menu. Sounds complicated, but it's not. At the moment I'm listening to Sherlock Holmes and Jack London's The Sea Wolf.
Will you be at MoCCA? I'm curious to see what you're working on.
Ellen L.


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