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RPG» Forums » Community » The Tavern

Subject: Seeking Sage Advice - Re-Starting my Comics rss

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Brian Cox
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Fellow Geeks and Wise Tavernites,

Since my posts are often long-winded, I'll try to get to the point, and actually do my best to listen to your thoughts rather than talk myself in circles.

Since 2004, I knew I wanted to be a cartoonist. From 2009 - 2011, I actually followed my dream and did a webcomic. If you're curious, the website is/was filmstripcomics.com, but you'll have to use the Wayback Machine to go back to April 2012 to see any strips.

In late 2011, I stopped the comic for many reasons, but mostly it was because we had our first child, and the comic wasn't gaining any traction beyond my closest friends. I could go on at length, but these were the two main reasons. (Interestingly enough I discovered RPGGeek the month after I stopped cartooning...I assume this is how I filled the void.)

I have said internally and externally that I'm going to restart my comics for the last 4+ years, but I haven't done it. I still want to. I still feel that being a Comics Professional is my calling. But again, I'm not doing it.

It could be that I "don't have enough time," with two kids, but that's a cop-out. We've all go the same 24 hours in a day, and I waste a lot of personal time watching TV or playing on the Internet.

Maybe I'm "afraid my art isn't good enough," as many artists are, but I wholeheartedly believe that my art got better from the first comic to the last, and it will only get better with consistent practice.

There are many other mental blocks I put in front of myself that are keeping me from getting back into it.

The most interesting thing about this is that when I was actually creating comics, I didn't want to be anywhere else. All day, at work, in traffic, etc. I daydream about doing ANYTHING else. When I'm drawing. I don't want to be anywhere else, and I'm actually focused on the task at hand.

So I come to you fine folks.

What would you do (or have you done) to shake things up and actually jumpstart a dream that you're too afraid to fail at so you don't do anything at all?

I've tried setting aside time, or having a friend or family member keep me accountable, but each time I've let things slide.

Lately I've thought of starting a blog on the Geek to keep track of my weekly progress, or even contact the few Geeks I've made a limited forum connection with to have them become a mentor or some form of accountability source, but in either instance, I hold myself back for some reason.

So I'll try to answer any questions you may have to provide better guidance, but otherwise, I feel like I'm at a point where I need to listen to some impartial opinions.

Thanks in advance.


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Bifford the Youngest (Sam)
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Hey Brian

Well done for wanting to live and follow a dream. And well done for asking for guidance. Those are probably two of the biggest hurdles out there.

Finding time and having motivation are another two big obstacles!

With two kids of my own (4 yrs and 10 mths) I know exactly what you mean by not having time. After the day job, travel to/from work, cooking/eating, spending a bit of time with the kids (and wife?) and then putting the kids to bed....that leaves all of 2.5-3 hours left in a day. Do you squirrel yourself away to work? Or do you sit with the wife and watch TV, or talk, or do a boardgame or something? Too many evenings I've been chastised for hiding in the cupboard. It's not easy.

One thing I would advise - don't have your office in a claustrophobic small space! When I had my office in the 3rd bedroom, which was a decent size, with a window as well, I could work quite well in those last few hours. Since I've had to move to (quite literally) the broom cupboard (or Cloffice as we call it) it is a LOT harder to stay awake and maintain focus. Having a wall at elbow length from me to either side, and a sloped ceiling above me is just so constraining and it REALLY drains your mental capacity, just makes you tired, and is not conducive to good work. So what I am saying here is, make sure your work space is a good size, preferably with a window, and lots of room for your mind and body to move around in.

Having a portable device you can use for your work may also go a long way to help in the above situation. A graphics tablet or laptop means you can work anywhere at any time, but get one with a very good stylus and pressure sensitivity.

I don't do this next thing, but I really should. Have a timetable. Set aside 30 mins to do chores after the kids are in bed. That will get your mind out of the "play time" mentality, and in to the "let's do something constructive" mentality - which is one step away from "let's do hard graft work" of drawing.

Also, don't over-do it. You can work till you are exhausted one night, but that will throw the next two nights out of the window as you won't be able to zone in and will need to sleep more. So know when to stop unless it's the end deadline and you know you can take a few days break afterwards.


As for shaking it up and jumpstarting the dream - Just don't worry about what others think. Do what you like and want to do. You say your comic strip didn't go further than your close friends? Ask someone to be your media manager, who can pimp your work for you with blogs, tweets, facebook posts, instagrams etc. Lets someone else do the advertising stuff to build the network so you don't have to.

That's it for now. If I can think of anything else I will speak up

Good luck fella!
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Iffix Y Santaph
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Actually, I've had similar issues as a sci-fi writer. Every agency I have requested to work with says, "Wow. You're really good. I wish we could represent you." (If that makes anyone else scratch behind the ear, I'll be happy I'm not the only one.)
The jump into publishing was not that difficult after I set my mind to it, and gave up on traditional publishing houses to fulfill my dream. I'm sure as different artistic types, we are both familiar with pulling teeth to try to get readerships. I'm told if I stick with it long enough, I'll get somewhere.
I'm actually in the process of re-launching a book at some point this week. I'm not sure it will help. But if it's at all comforting, you're not alone in the galaxy.
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A few random thoughts, in no particular order:

Try to break tasks up so you can do something measurable and clearly progress in 15-20 minutes. Then even if you can only clear an hour in a week, that's three or four things crossed off your list and you feel as if you are moving forward

Look into webtoons or something equivalent like that so you don't have to worry about hosting and you have a better chance of random browsing of your comic. (I have a friend whose comic is there and has been part of a competition so I don't actually know anything about webtoons except "exists, comics".it may not in fact be the ideal place for you. But that sort of thing)

If you'd like to do longer bits of comics in each release than a page, mayve think about patreon? If you earn even $2 per chapter it might be enough to make it seem less like an indulgence. ( I wouldn't for a more short 3 panel strip style)


Some tough love for a sec: if when you say you've done nothing you mean "no comics on the internet or where anyone can see them" then ok. But if you haven't done ANY comics drawing, even for yourself, then maybe the dream isn't a good fit. Or maybe you like part of it. So investigate collaborations, so you story board but someone else does the inking/colouring. Or vv. I've been saying I'd open an etsy store since my pregnancy, to earn some money as a stay at home mum. But I've only just done it, over two years later. However I've never stopped crafting. I've just been making clothes for Nate and presents for others and it was the motivation to be ready to sell that I was lacking. You don't make it clear whether you've been creating and just lack motivation to go public again and keep up that schedule so I don't know if that's an issue. But anything you haven't done in four years even for yourself may not be a passion.


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Brian Cox
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So I've had a little time to think on things, and look into the comments of three of the more respected Tavern posters (thanks guys!), so I'll try to give some brief comments and answer some questions that were posed.

Bifford wrote:
...Well done for wanting to live and follow a dream. And well done for asking for guidance...

Thanks. As many of us do, I forget that asking for help is perfectly acceptable, despite teaching that to my 4-year-old daughter regularly.

Time - I know what you mean on the time. I've fallen victim made myself a victim of the "I'm too tired to do anything" after a long day. Interestingly enough, I made fitness a priority in 2015, and I lost 30 pounds by making the time I needed and making good choices.

Workspace - I actually have a dedicated office in my house. My wife has been kind enough to let me use this spare bedroom the entire time we've had the house. I used to make comics in here. Now it's just messy. Step 1 of my turnaround might be to declutter this area.

Portable Device - I've been drawn to the new Surface Pro 4 as a mobile drawing platform, that could actually become my main drawing platform. Unfortunately, there's the initial cost of the device, and a year ago, I bought a Mac Mini, dual monitors, a keyboard, etc to hook up to my Wacom Bamboo drawing tablet, and it gets seldom used. I need to prove that I'll use what I've got before I effectively buy new running shoes and call myself a marathon runner.

Timetable - This is a great idea and one I used for working out all last year. This year, or family focus is to not let the cleaning and chores get out of hand, so you're on the same page as my wife. We try to do about 30 minutes of housework right after we put the kids to bed.

Overdoing It - I can see where I've let this happen in the past. While it's good to get on a roll an keep working, I read once that it's often good, to make a note of what's on your mind, and then come back to it the next day. Having a night to sleep on it and/or a day to think about it could really let the idea grow.

XendoBreckett wrote:
...you're not alone in the galaxy.

Thanks for the pep talk. I know that RPGGeek is full of awesome people, but I often who love to send out help and support, but I hate to feel like burdening people with my stuff.

Stick with it - I know this is a key factor that I let slip away from me. If I had continued drawing my comic, or started a new comic when I got burned out, I would be 4 years closer to my dream of being a professional cartoonist. I beat myself up over that fact a lot.

regency_rhi wrote:
A few random thoughts, in no particular order:

Thanks! I definitely appreciate and respect the thoughts of my old PbF Inspectre.

Measurable Tasks - I'm actually good at this, despite not currently doing so with my creative outlets. When I was making comics, I had each step timed out, so I knew which days I would write, which days I would letter, pencil, ink, etc. I will keep this idea with my notes to reintroduce to my new process.

Hosting/Exposure - This is a solid suggestion to go with a "webcomics collective" type of website. Unfortunately, based on my past research, I'm actually against putting my stuff on this sort of site,. But it's been a while, and I should probably at least look into it to see if things have changed.

Patreon - I understand the concept of Patreon, but as I haven't used it or become a patron for anyone yet, I'll have to look into it more. I actually do have aspirations to create long-form comics and graphic novels, so this may be a good way to get those going.

Tough Love - Here's where you may be getting to the root of my problems. I haven't necessarily "done nothing," but I've "done the bare minimum." I still sketch semi-regularly, and I've done a handful of unpaid projects for friends and family, but I'm not posting work to the Internet or attempting to publish in other ways. I have also kept pretty good notes for ideas for 5 - 7 comic strips, 2 graphic novels, 1 continuing comic series, 3 children's books, a few screenplays, etc. Basically, I went from being someone who was actually doing something and turned into every other random Internet poster who is into pop culture and thinks they can do everything. It's as if I have so much stuff that I want to do that I don't end up doing any of it.

regency_rhi wrote:
...But anything you haven't done in four years even for yourself may not be a passion.

That hurts to see in print, but it just might be the kick in the pants I need to get things going again.

------------

Thank you so much to the three who replied so quickly. I think I've started forming a plan of attack to turn things around, but I'll hold off on that and try my best to sit back and listen to any other level-headed advice before jumping in the deep end.

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Brian Cox
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So it has been two weeks, and I think I have a new plan for getting things going again.

First things first, I have started a blog here on the Geek chronicling my journey to becoming a Professional Cartoonist. I hope you subscribe and come along for the ride.

Second, I have decluttered my home office and made it into a respectable place to create again. It's not totally cleaned out and "minimalist," but it will do for now.

Third, I've established my wife and best friend as my "Executive Committee" to help keep me on track and to report to regularly. The blog is also set to help keep me accountable, but my wife and best friend are both tired of hearing me complain about this and want me to just do it.

Last, I need to get to work. Simple as that. Start drawing regularly again. Start writing regularly again. Stop watching TV, surfing the Internet, or doing anything else that is stopping me from making comics.

Thanks again for all your thoughts and your help.

Here I go!
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Brian Cox
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Hey Everyone!

It's a little late, but I actually did re-start my comics!

Here's a link to the new post announcing it to the world...err, the Tavern.

Thanks for your advice and comments three and a half years ago. You may not think it, but I have held these comments in my heart as I'm going through the ups and downs of life.

Here's the link to the new post!
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ld paulson

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Congrats!

One thing gives me pause...

fuzzydice82 wrote:

Third, I've established my wife and best friend as my "Executive Committee" to help keep me on track and to report to regularly. The blog is also set to help keep me accountable, but my wife and best friend are both tired of hearing me complain about this and want me to just do it.


The someone who needs to hold you accountable shouldn't be a close person. What happens when they say something you don't want to hear?

I agree that they will be good cheerleaders, but you need people who aren't close to you to dole out the tough love.

IMHO
YMMV

and all that jazz.

And have you thought about doing a future webcomic in serialized fashion? Most comics started this way and there are some online comics that seem to be doing this well.

Keep at it!
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Brian Cox
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ldpaulson wrote:
Congrats!

One thing gives me pause...

fuzzydice82 wrote:

Third, I've established my wife and best friend as my "Executive Committee" to help keep me on track and to report to regularly. The blog is also set to help keep me accountable, but my wife and best friend are both tired of hearing me complain about this and want me to just do it.


The someone who needs to hold you accountable shouldn't be a close person. What happens when they say something you don't want to hear?

I agree that they will be good cheerleaders, but you need people who aren't close to you to dole out the tough love.

IMHO
YMMV

and all that jazz.

Oh don't worry. It's been 3.5 years since I posted that. That has gone by the wayside. So has the blog I mentioned. Now I'm posting to a website and social media.Things are moving along by actually making the comic rather than chronicling making a comic.

ldpaulson wrote:
And have you thought about doing a future webcomic in serialized fashion? Most comics started this way and there are some online comics that seem to be doing this well.

Keep at it!

I'm not sure I get what you mean. Do you mean a "long form" comic, like posting a comic book page with 6 - 9 panels? If so, I've thought briefly about it, but my work tends to lean toward comic strips that are 2 - 4 panels. Some of mine are quasi-serialized in that 3 - 6 comics will follow a similar story line before switching to a new joke-set.
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