Do you want to make comics? Well let me start with this: it’s hard. Now, I don’t mean that in a discouraging way. But it’s hard work, probably more than most people realize. You have to wrestle a story into good enough shape to write, draw it, ink it, color it, and letter it. I’m saying all of this right up front because, if you’re like comics enough that you want to make them, you have to go in knowing that it will be a challenge. But, if you really want to create some comics, you’ll over come that. OK, now that you know this isn’t an easy path (spending hours making something that people will read in, let’s generously say less time than that), we can get down to some basic advice. However, keep in mind that I’ve only got two years of experience. That being said, these are things that I think I would have liked to have known back when I started out.
The first, and biggest piece of advice I can give anyone who wants to make comics, is to read comics. Sounds pretty simple right? Usually the best advice is like that. If you don’t read comics, you won’t know how to make them. Sure, you can know the steps, and the process, but only in theory. You won’t see them in practice. Like I’ve said before, when you start making comics, you begin reading them as study material. You learn technique and style that you never would have learned before. Plus, reading comics will get your brain primed to make them. Once you submerge yourself in the sequential arts, you’ll be in the frame of mind to whip up some stories. Having said that, once you start making your own comics, you have to KEEP reading. It can be easy to lose that time for reading when you spend it writing and drawing, but put aside some time to see what’s being done now, what was done then, and where we’re going. And hey, don’t forget to enjoy it.
Here’s another big piece of advice: fail. I know you hear stuff like this all the time “don’t be afraid to fail.” While that sounds like the kind of generic advice you hear from motivational speakers, it’s true. Actually, I’ll take it one step further. You HAVE to fail. I know that failure is a scary concept. But if you fail, that means you tried something. There have been loads of times that I look back at a drawing and realize that I did something wrong. But only then can we realize what we have to do to get better. I’m sure this sounds pretty cliche, but only when you start creating, or following any dream, do you really come to understand this concept.
Still with me? Good. Now here’s a hard one to learn: don’t apologize for the way you use your time. When you start to make comics, you are going to find that most of your time will go toward that singular goal. That means you are going to miss movies, social events, and people in general. For a long time I felt bad about this. I thought “That’s not a valid excuse.” But there comes a point when you plant your feet and decide that it’s not an excuse, it’s just the way it is. A lot of time goes into making comics, and you really have to hold yourself to a high standard of time management. I want to play video games and watch Netflix…but I have to write, or draw, or letter and the list goes on. And you’ll have to keep on yourself until it becomes a regular part of your life. I will say this though, most of your friends and family will understand when you tell them the truth. Anyway, that’s what I found out.
I’m not sure why I have to say this one, but DON’T do it for money. If you end up making it, that is great, you’re a legend. But for most of us, it’s a little slower than that, and we’re doing what we love in addition to another job. You won’t get rich quick, if ever, just keep that in mind.
Also, hang in there, huh? You will have days where you wake up and wonder why you’re doing what you’re doing. You will wonder if it’s been a waste of time. You’ll ask yourself, “what does it really matter?” This is the demon called doubt, and it comes for us all from time to time. But the important thing to remember is that you’re doing what you love. I look at this endeavor of mine as my purpose, and no amount of fear or uncertainty can take that from me. You must keep going, even when it’s tough. Especially when it’s tough. The road will always lead somewhere. And this leads me to my final point:
You are doing something you love, don’t forget that. You will be overwhelmed, you will struggle, and you’ll more times than not think, “that could be better,” once you’re done. But if you forget to step back and breath once and a while, you’ll wind up emerging from the haze years later, with lots of work and little pleasure. We don’t make comics because we have to, but because it’s what we truly love. Remember that.
I know this is some pretty basic advice, and it doesn’t have anything to do with how to draw or write, but I can’t teach you that. I can only tell you what I’ve already said. Keep making comics, friends.