On making bad comics


Life is short.  Go make something.

Years ago I started drawing my first creator-owned book, GravyBoy.  The art was horrible.  I can’t stand to look at it now.  The story, written by Marty Blevins, was entertaining so people were prone to overlook the amateur-ness of the drawing.  I did four issues before our schedules (coupled with an expensive failed attempt at self-publishing and distribution through Diamond) stopped the story dead in its tracks.

But, I don’t think the experience was a failure.  First of all, I learned how to physically produce a comic.  I learned the process of putting it together, formatting, and printing.  Second, it gave me first hand experience in trying to self-publish, self-promote, and to learn just how hard and expensive the whole affair can be.

It also taught me that you can’t wait until you’re “good enough” to do your book.  You get “good enough” by doing it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to suck.  But you’ll get just a little bit better with every page.  You won’t be able to tell in a month…or six…but after a year or year and a half you’ll look back and realize it actually is making a difference.   And that’ll give you a little boost to finish the next six months of bad pages.  You have to get the bad drawings out of your system.

I’m still getting them out of my system.  But they’re not as bad as they used to be.

Sometimes they even look pretty good.

The point I’m going to make here is that if you want to get better at making comics…or even start making comics, then your first step is to make some comics.  Don’t be afraid of making something bad.  You can’t get to the good stuff until you do.  Tell a good story, and people might not even notice that that hand you drew looks a bit wonky.

And if they feel the need to point out that wonky hand, agree that it looks wonky.  So what?  Drawing is hard.  What have they been trying to do with their life that’s so complicated?

Go find a project to commit to and see it through.  Write something yourself.  Co-write something with a friend.  Or sign up to draw somebody else’s project for free.  Just see it through.  Draw when you’re tired.  Draw when you feel uninspired.  Draw what simply works when you can’t think of that amazing shot.  Make the story intelligible if you can’t make it brilliant.

Go make something you’ll be ashamed to show people in a year.  If you’re ashamed of it in a year, then you’re getting better.

2 thoughts on “On making bad comics

  1. That’s awesome, man. I’m currently doing exactly what you’re saying here. After years of trying to wait until I’m awesome before I make screen printed posters, I’ve finally decided to just do it. I don’t think anyone will buy them, but I have to start doing it. It’s my art, and my chosen medium. I’m primarily making art because I’m an artist and secondly, I hope to make a living at it, not the other way around. You’re an inspiration, and I think you draw great hands.

  2. That’s great. Glad to hear you’re going ahead and not waiting for someone to tell you you’re good enough.

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