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Submitted on
May 18


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Tough Love: How To Make A Comic

Journal Entry: Sun May 18, 2014, 6:53 PM

Or Decide You Don't Want To After All.

I've seen comic how-to-get-started guides before, and they're all so ninny-nippled they word it like anyone can make a comic, wow, so magical and fun!

Wrong.  Everyone and their pet dog has a "story" they want to "write" or "make a comic of."  Face it, it ain't gonna happen for 99% of us.  You gotta have self-discipline and stubbornness to get anything done.  And you can't just avoid the stuff that sounds too hard.  It's a package deal.

1.  Having a character doesn't mean you've done anything.  Maybe you've spent a year deciding on the perfect hairstyle and three years before that developing his complex personality, and technically, you spent the entirety of your high school career on him too, since he's a "redesign" of an old fancharacter--who cares!  Making characters doesn't take years.  In fact, you're hurting your story by keeping characters around for that long, because you start letting sentiment override what's best for the story. 

But nay, says you, I killed my character! I pulled out his teeth and impoverished him and made him watch MLP, I'm MEAN to my characters!  That's not the sentiment I'm talking about.  I'm talking, would you cut him out of the story if the plot would be better off?

Only add characters when you have a role to fill, and dispose of them when they're not needed.

Saying "I want to write a comic, and I already have a cast" is like saying "I want to paint a portrait of every person alive in Houston, and I already bought a canvas."

2.  Stand-alone illustrations.  Give them a rest.  All the energy you spend on those can be put toward pages instead.  And isn't that what you want to end up with?

3.  Pick an ending.  Then pick the single event that set your protagonist toward that ending.  And now you have Point A and Point B, write between them and you have your story.  Which, again, is what you wanted, right?  So no more whining that "your story/script isn't done."  Make decisions.  Make sacrifices.  Move on.

And I know this part is probably one of the hardest, most time-consuming steps of all, I really do, but there does come a point when complaining that "it's difficult" starts to sound a lot like ass-dragging.

Accept that your project is never going to be the perfect, emotional headscene you imagine.  No one's project is perfect.  Not even your favorite webcomic or TV show or whatever.  They all have flaws and plotholes, too, and the writers know it.  But aren't you glad they made something anyway?

4.  So you got started and you finished a page!  Hooray!  Now shut up because it's not that big of a goddamn deal to do one measly page that'll take a few seconds to read.  Immediately stopping to celebrate after every page--and by "celebrate" I mean posting to get that sweet, sweet feedback--is a waste of time.  Do you want a comic, or do you want a "like"?  Then get started on the next page.  Do not rely on the approval of readers to motivate you.  It helps and it's great, but if that's the only reason you're making the comic, you're going to be very disappointed.

5.  You're going to update once a week?  Okay, say you go an entire year without missing a single week (impressive!)--you've got... 52 whole pages!  Wow, a chapter and a half!  How long is your project, again?

6.  "I'm too busy to draw more pages than that!"  Well then, you need to find a faster way to work.  If you're a slow worker and you've already decided that's a fact of life you can't ever change, maybe you don't really want a comic.

7.  If your project is over three years old and you're no closer to its completion because you keep changing this or redoing that, the horse that you are currently beating died in utero.

8.  So you got started, you're drawing pages fast, you're making decisions and trimming fat left and right.  This sucks, you cry!  This is labor, it's horrible, I can't bear to do another panel!  YEP~ congratulations, that's what it feels like.  You can whine, as long as you keep working and pushing through the days you'd rather be drawing something else. 

I call it Week Two Syndrome, like from NaNoWriMo--that dead-time you have no motivation for the project that dooms most of them to incompletion.  You just can't give up.  There's no easy way to overcome it and no simpler way to put it.  You work every day, even if it's only a little, and it will become fun again eventually.

9.  So now you're having a mental breakdown because you start second-guessing character motivations and plot points... actually, I don't have any advice for countering this one.  Good luck!

Moral of the story: making comics is a real sack-nibbler most of the time.  If you can't deal with the difficult stuff, you're better off investing your time in something else.

Add a Comment:
Shizuru1412 Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014
Thankfully I'm doing 4 koma sol thing, yay! :iconcatlaplz:

And since you're quoting nanos:

I do nanowrimo too, finished over 50k novels.
And if you don't even start writing, the novel won't ever be done, same with making a freaking manga.
There's a clear difference between hobbyist and making manga for a job, as what your articles seemingly about.

Well, you'll never know unless you try, I guess?
zomickschallahrecipe Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Great advice! Thanks :D
jenifferlee Featured By Owner May 30, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
This is great advice! We all need a little bit of tough love sometimes.
ToshiroHitsuguyaFan Featured By Owner May 28, 2014  Student General Artist
I'm not ready to make a full-comic. Heh, probably will try to keep it condensed to about 50 pages maximum. But I can probably do that, especially with Summer coming up. Lots of free time on my hands.

I only have one criticism about this: you say its how to make a comic. Really, you're just pointing out what you should have, not how you 
Coca-CoIa Featured By Owner May 25, 2014
I looked at the title fast and thought it said "how to make love" //shot
R-iaT-heW-olfG-irl Featured By Owner May 25, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
High five,
Angati Featured By Owner May 25, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Thank you for the advice! I can't tell you how many times I had redone a page because it wasn't "perfect". It annoys me to NO END. Your advice though tells me that it's not gonna be perfect and that's okay. Thanks for the advice :)
SybilX Featured By Owner May 25, 2014
Nevermind... Too hard.
onepiecefan15 Featured By Owner May 25, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
'Make sure to have fun, and if it don't look fun, id suggest you place somthing fun in there if you find your comic quite boring. '
'Even the mood you are in while making this comic can damage the outcome of the comic.'
Sigfriedofgaea Featured By Owner May 25, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Nice advice. :)
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