Saturday, October 08, 2016

You've Got to Decide

I always thought I could make comics while working a normal job. That I could come home and draw. That I could take weekends to draw. I was sure this would work for me.

But I'm finding that I am very unhappy with this, which partially has to do with my work schedule being retail hours so I can be at work as late as 10pm. I need my evenings, so this leaves me sitting on the edge of my bed feeling useless and hopeless. Why am I working these unpleasant jobs? To make money to pay bills? I barely make enough to do that.

If I'm going to barely be getting by, why not at least be doing something I want to do?

So I'm working towards a new goal. Towards actually being a professional artist. One who gets commissioned by publishers to make cover art, to draw comics, to write comics. Who gets commissioned by patrons online. Who tables at conventions. Where I get up and make art all day and that's my job. No more "other" jobs. No more trying to fit into the mold that society laid out for me. I don't fit. I keep trying to fit but it just makes me miserable.

Steps toward that are difficult to see because it's not something you apply for and get hired to do. You have to just do it. You have to draw and share your drawings. You have to create portfolios and send them to publishers. You have to write story pitches and get rejected. You have to carefully track your money so you can pay taxes properly. A lot of these things were hard in my mind for years.

A year ago, I submitted my first comic pitch. I was rejected but I was so proud of myself for completing a pitch. I succeeded. I've been contemplating how I'll have to pay taxes and getting myself comfortable with that thought. I feel better about it. I know I can do it. I'll learn. I'll talk to other comic artists and get tips. I need to move to where the comic artists are. Somewhere that has a major airport to travel to conventions. I think Seattle will do for me. I have a few comic friends there. They have their fair share of conventions and the airport goes pretty much everywhere.

I've been on this road for so long. I've rested, stepped off, and tripped. I've run with reckless abandon. In some ways I'm succeeding and in other ways I am failing. But I haven't failed. I'm still going. So I'm still succeeding, ultimately.

I can do this.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


More silence from me. Terrible.

I became angry with Whisper. It was taking too long to get a page done. I treated Whisper as a learning experience, as it is (as is everything, honestly, but shhh), and I learned after a dozen pages that the way I was doing things was not working. I talked about it earlier, but ultimately, I realized I needed to stop and evaluate.

So I stopped.

It's been over a year. A lot has happened. But I've been doodling in my sketchbooks, practicing, and I'm feeling better about going back to Whisper.

Everybody is different

I have spent the last few years depressed. Ignited by one situation and now fueled by bouts of unemployment, 9 months of couch surfing, and unemployment again. Here's some things I learned about myself, in regards to making comics.

1. I can still write even when at my lowest low.
2. I may not be able to draw when I am that low. 
3. Drawing improves my mood for that day.
4. When I am couch surfing, I cannot draw digitally. I need a desk and space and privacy.
5. I need a cintiq. I'm extremely put off by the struggles on a tablet now.

When I was living on couches, I wanted to draw. But I couldn't. I had too much inner turmoil broiling around from not having my necessary space. And the fact that I couldn't draw bothered me so much. I read inspirational stories from other artists talking about a time they were couch surfing and made comics. Why couldn't I?

What I didn't realize is that the stories are the success stories. Obviously. But I think there are successful artists who are like me and cannot work like that. And they wouldn't talk about it specifically, since it's in the "failures" column. But it doesn't mean I can't succeed. It means I have requirements and limitations. Everyone has limitations, maybe self-imposed, maybe not, but we all have them. That's okay.

It's okay that I need my door closed or an empty house in order to draw. I don't need that to write.

I can write anywhere, any time. It's weird, it's abnormal. I never get writer's block, I don't need a special set up. I can just go. My art needs the babying. That's okay.

It meant that I had 9 months of no drawing. That was hard. That was me spending every day wondering why I was failing. Why couldn't do this? Did I not want it enough? Maybe. Depression tends to prioritize itself and easy things. 

We shouldn't beat ourselves up because we differ from others. Just because my friend can draw anywhere she has room to set down a laptop doesn't mean I'm failing. It's a reflection on her abilities, but not mine.

Everybody is different. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Whisper is very different from Collide (for those who have seen Collide). Collide was black and white, some screentones, and a very manga inspired style. Now and then hints of the direction my art would take could be found. Whisper is full color, a tighter style that leans toward realistic in some ways.

Basically, Whisper is a lot more work than Collide.

I could do a page of Collide in a day--maybe two, if I had a hard time getting things right. A page of Whisper takes days and days. Perfecting the composition, sketches, inking--that's usually a day (though page 6 took three days to get the sketches right), then color takes about a day and a half, two if it's complex. On rare occasion, I can do a page of Whisper in two days. In fact, at the beginning, I did the first page in two days and it was great. But I started spending longer on each page, getting the lines right, getting everything right. It's exhausting.

Too exhausting to continue forever. Good thing Whisper is only 47 pages.

I'm practicing a simplified version of my style for the next comic, in hopes of speeding things up. I have no idea if it will work. But it's a thing to try. I'm tempted to search my heart for another short(er) comic to try that style on. Will dwell further on it.



My colors. What's up with them. I like the colors themselves, I think I got a good thing down finally, but they look so shiny. So smooth. It's no good for all of my work. Some of my work needs to look gritty, or watery, or transparenty. I've been studying various artists colors and the thing I have decided that I need to work on for my colors now is texture. I need to start collecting textures to laydown on color to give it a real texture feel. I don't mean, hey, that wicker basket have wickery patterns so it looks wicker. No. The colors and lines that make up that kind of texture will still be smooth and perfect and inappropriate. I mean a background texture. Concrete, smoke, watercolor bleeds--things that look like the paper or the material used to make the art. I'm not making my comics on porcelain. They need life.

Recap on learns:
-Can't do comics the way I do an illustration because it will take the rest of my life to make my first full length GN.
-Must learn fast yet effective style.
-Must learn to utilize textures in my coloring.

2 and something years later!

I'll try to be better about this blog since I'm so focused on my comics again.

Since the last post, I am no longer working at Double Fine (unemployed now wee), no longer living in San Francisco (hello, Virginia!), and working Whisper pretty much every day.

Whisper went through an edit, I went through some depression, and now both are (relatively) done and I am working on it again. In fact, I'm already 6 pages out of 47 pages done, and posting it online.

Pretty sweet.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Down to a Whisper

Remember, back when I wanted to draw Strung Out because it was a short story and wouldn't be a huge commitment? And then it got bigger and bigger until it grew larger than Collide? YEAH.

I still want to draw a short comic before any of the big ones. Something little, complete, and lovely.

And I think I've hit upon it.

Typed up, it's 9 pages long. II've begun to thumb nail it, and if it continues on in the way it's going, it should run about 60 pages (give or take). That's pretty short! And it'll be very pretty and interesting. I'm stoked.

I work on the thumb nails on the train to and from work. Oh, I got a job. The best job at the best place. I am jealous of myself. I love going to work. Mondays are a joy. My coworkers are the best kind of people. My life is infinitely happier now. I've 25 pages thumb nailed, and am making more every day. It's been going quite smoothly. The website for it and pretty much done and needs only some actual comics. I look forward to sharing it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lying awake at night

Collide is on the precipice of beginning it's new form of life.

I've scripted quite far ahead, and finally sketched out the thumbs for the first two pages. I'm not 100% certain about my art style, but, I think it's okay this time. My friend gave me good advice that (in essence) each page is a record of our style at that moment. It can change, and it's good to be able to look back and see progress. That still terrifies me, because I'd like things to look as awesome as possible, but I think it's okay now, and I just need to get over that. Also, I need more confidence in my art. I think I'm letting the awesome webcomickers out there overimpress me, and it's making me wonder if I'll ever be that good. OF COURSE I WILL. I need to get over that too.

I've been studying other comics on the internet to see how they format their sites (color schemes, backgrounds, buttons, etc) to improve on Collide's site. I've got plans. As a result of that, I made the site private while I fiddle with it--sorry, dudes. When it comes back up, the previous version will be gone, but I might post it here or on my tumblr in a later date. Maybe I'll PDF it and toss it up on the site. Who knows.

Progress progress progress.

Today I catch a train to the city for a job interview at a place I've always wanted to work.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Just doing things

It never ends.

You think you're done, and you're not.

I thought Strung Out was settled enough to start drawing. Two pages in, I realize there are some seriously weak characters, and set out to fix that. And, as a result, I'm overhauling the story. Boo.

This happened to Collide, you'll recall. I got tired of the weaknesses, and paused it. On that same vein, I've been making progress with Collide. I hit on the very things I was missing, and the modified story is coming together quite perfectly. It's a lot shorter and has less characters. I'm addressing some serious stuff, too, as well as fun stuff. It's going to be amazing.

It'd be easy to feel discouraged at myself for not drawing my comics--to tell myself I'm not progressing. But really, I am. I'm making my stories better, and that's progress. Things happen differently for everyone, and for me, I don't feel comfortable starting unless I have a script for the story. I do that because I want to make sure dialogue doesn't insinuate the wrong things, or that I include the right hints and allusions. I want my readers to reread later and gasp when they realize what a merry chase I've led them on. I have comic friends who know where their story is going, but don't write dialogue until the moment the page is being made. I can't work like that. I do leave myself room to adjust dialogue, though, if the moment feels right.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Taking care of your artsy body

If you're an artist, you are at risk for certain injuries: carpal tunnel, neck pain, back pain, and a variety of hand and arm injuries. This is because you are using those parts of your body all the time. Normal, not-artist people use those parts of their body regularly, but have lots of times during the day where they let those muscles sit lifelessly.

As an artist, you draw for fun, work, and release. And, let's be honest, drawing uses more muscles than typing or video gaming (sans wii and kinect, etc). You've got these muscles from your fingers to your neck all tight and focused and tight and working and tight and, did I mention tight? Yeah, they get super tight. And if you're not careful, you can make them flip out, as I did this last week.

It's happened to me before. When I work, I get into a zone and usually don't surface for many hours. I have had more than my fair share of days spent from wake til sleep drawing, music blaring, the world totally tuned out. That's my style. So my muscles, every few years, suddenly seize up and give me agony for a week or so. It's always sudden, unpredictable, and pathetic. I end up camped out in my Daddy's heavenly recliner for the duration (he's the best Dad for giving up that chair to me, even though he has a bad back and loves to relax there best of anywhere else), staring at daytime TV (American Pickers, anyone?) and whimpering for my Momma to bring me food when I'm hungry to help me get out of the chair when I need the bathroom (she's the best Mom, brings me all the muscle relaxants, tylenol, food, and heat packs I need ). Sounds fun, and it is in a way, except that I am in endless pain that never stops, I can't lift my head on my own, and can't turn or chew too much or swallow without pain. Do you understand? It's the worst pain ever. EVER.

So, I highly recommend, to you artists out there--even if you've never had this pain, you probably will--I recommend you set a timer when you're doing your art and take a break every hour. Go on a walk, watch a movie, have a nap, read a book, but let your arm and neck and back rest. It's frustrating, I know, but it doesn't even come close to how frustrating being a slug is when your brain is working and still being creative.

Take care of your body, and let it last longer and do the things you want it to. It's the reason you can do the things you do. Don't abuse it.