Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

A Question for the Truly Great ...
Arico at 10:20PM, July 3, 2009
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You people who have 100 plus pages of comics, how do you stay committed to your comic?

I have this thing. *snaps fingers* It's like artistic ADD. No matter what I start, or how awesome it might be, I can't get more than a foot in the door, before I give up entirely.

For instance, I was going to do this one story. I spent two solid days researching every detail about the time period and location it was set. I did all the basic story writing guides, character worksheets, character motivations and plot conflicts, yet it still never got past a two page general plot summary. The project fizzled because I found a major flaw in it, and lost all inspiration.

It's collecting dust with the other 14-million project fragments on my HDD–all of which suffered the same tragic fate.

Time passes, and I have this new idea; I'm scared to death it's never going to see the light of day. So I need the help from anyone who's willing to give.

What are your tips to staying positive, and devoted to your comic?



*crosses fingers*
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:02AM
AccoSpoot at 6:18AM, July 4, 2009
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I have the exact same thing, I'm soon to be venturing into my fifth attempt at making a webcomic (about a millionth attempt overall) it's a little scary that every time you start something you're climbing out on the limb in the hopes that you'll be just as interested in your comic in 100 pages time as you are now.

Anyways, some things I've picked up since being here. Make sure you've got a story more than anything else, I mean characters and setting matter but a story is the wire mesh from which all that will hang, I've started comics now with a focus only on the setting and character finding that the Character has nothing to do but twiddle his thumbs for the rest of eternity.

Find some fans, I know I would have probably gotten bored even quicker of some of my comics if I hadn't found that the some of my friends quite like it, it's encouraging becuase it makes you feel as though you're actually making this for a market not for your own self indulgence, it also pays to have an outside perspective on plot details that may seem clear to you but are confusing to others (works the other way around too, things that are confusing to you may pass colours with people reading it).

I hope this helps even if it isn't exactly an answer to what you asked.
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:45AM
GracehFaceh at 10:40AM, July 4, 2009
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I used to have the same dilemma when it came to creating a long lasting comic, so I guess I'll tell you some of the mistakes that I used to (and sometimes, still) make. I don't know if I fall under the “truly great” category since my current comic is only shy of 50 pages, but I'd still be happy to help!

What it comes down to is that you just have to fall in love with the idea and stay in love. A lot of the time, an idea will pop into one's head and they'll like it, so they jump on bringing the idea to life right away. However, a week later they'll be bored with it and drop the project. Always remember that if what you’re writing is boring for you, it’s probably boring for your reader as well, so try to spice things up to keep yourself provoked to continue on with the plot. Always write about something you're deeply interested in. Get a feel of what’s the easiest creative process for you, as well. I think a lot of people drop their projects not only because of lack of motivation toward the story, but also with the artistic part. Don’t underestimate yourself! When I first started creating my comic, I planned for it to be a black and white comic with colored pages every once in a while, but I found that coloring the pages only took a little extra time and they looked a lot better in the end, which helped me get hyped to make the next one.

AccoSpoot has a very good point about knowing the story beforehand. This’ll prevent storylines that trail off to nowhere and if you know what you’re going to do, It’ll eventually help you to create the characters and the settings as well. In my opinion, you shouldn’t create your story around your characters, because nine times out of ten you’ll end up with the stereotypical “My characters and their misadventures!” storyline. It sounds as though you knew the characters, and the conflicts, and all that but you just struggled with getting the general story down. Give yourself a good couple of weeks, maybe even months or years to develop said story. All flaws, no matter how major, can be fixed. With my comic, I have everything planned out in my head and on paper, but I make sure nothing is set in stone so that I can keep it interesting for myself. Just give yourself enough time to have confidence in the story before launching it!

Plan an ending beforehand!! I used to hate the idea of ever ending my comic, so I'd just keep adding onto the plot over and over and that's why it's so God awfully long now. Like I said before, writing a comic comes a lot easier when you have something to work toward. The thing that keeps me motivated most of all is that idea of having this story that I love never come to life due to my own lack of incentive. It seems you’re afraid of this as well, so let that be your motivation also! Don’t let yourself drop it and don’t give up. Of course, it helps to have fans too, but I don’t think you have to worry about that on DD. It’s very easy to achieve readers on here! :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:38PM
Ryuthehedgewolf at 12:08PM, July 4, 2009
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I also, have the very same problem.

I've restarted the same comic, about 7 times now. I realize, I do change it little by little each time.

But what I've found the most important thing to do is, don't push yourself too hard.
Now, I'm by no means saying, be lazy. Because of course, then you won't get anything done.

But I've found, if you don't push yourself too hard, your pages will not only be of a higher quality, but you'll be happier because your not making several pages in a week. Unless of course, you are professional, then you kind of have to.

See, I kind of want to do this for a living later on in life, I more or less just gave up, yet again, about a week ago. But I sat down, and started thinking, “Will I really get better?” I just sat there, I saw one of my characters in a sketchbook, after a week's break, and I knew I had to continue.

I see that you had a major flaw in your comic, and that's okay. Not every comic can be perfect, but what you should do, is work on fixing that flaw. It's not gonna be an over-night thing, necessarily. Just sit down, and slowly work your way to fixing the flaw.

As for inspiration, there's many different ways to get inspired.

1.) Maybe going outside for a walk, just look at your surroundings.
2.) Playing your favorite video game.
3.) Looking at some art from a style that you like (An example would be like, manga)

You can find inspiration almost anywhere.

One thing that you absolutely MUST keep in mind when creating your own comic.

MAKE SURE IT'S SOMETHING THAT INTERESTS YOU!!!

I can't stress that enough when creating an idea for a comic.

Say, your into pirates. And, robots. So, obviously, you should make a comic either about robot pirates, or robots vs pirates. You want to have fun while working on the comic, and looking up things about it.
Now, if you decide you want to do a comic with non-fictional places, or characters, you should have basic knowledge about the place or character.

Say, for instance, you want to have Abraham Lincoln in your comic. Google “Abraham Lincoln's Life” or something along those lines. Just read through a few of the results, maybe take some notes on what kind of personality you think he'd have, etc. But who's to say that you have to make it absolutely 100% like him? That's the fun thing about comics, you can do whatever you want.
Unless, of course you WANT to make a non-fictional comic, then by all means, go for it.

But seriously, just make sure your interested in what your doing.
Don't overwork yourself.
AND, just keep up the great work.

I know you can do it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:16PM
Aurora Borealis at 7:45PM, July 4, 2009
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MAke sure to finish something shorter first. If you're planning something that's 200+ pages? finish a 22 pager first. having trouble doing that? Finish a 10 page comic before that.

Then you can go and say “hey, I did it once, now I just have to do it again and repeat it couple of times, it's the same, just longer”. :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:08AM
Dave7 at 8:43PM, July 4, 2009
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I'm only about 58 pages, so I know I don't qualify as one of the “greats.” But seeing as most of the work I do is in collaboration with other people (sometimes without ever meeting them in person), and I'm just now resuming the comic I have here on DD after being absent for about a year, I know all too well how big a problem it can be just to find the time and willingness to work on one project.

So I guess what advice I could give:

Write your stories ahead of time. I started writing the script for All Saints bay in 2004, several years before I actually found any artist (in this case, JSCervini and BYCWArchangel here on DD) and began doing pages. Like AccoSpoot and GracehFaceh already said, make sure you have a plot and an ending planned out long before hand, and make sure it maintains your interest. Before any pages were made, I kept going back and editing chapters I'd already written just to make sure the story stayed consistant and would remain interesting to the reader and not become redundant.

Plan Ahead. Look ahead and try to think what things will distract you. School, work, etc. should always take priority over everything else, but make sure that you'll have ample free time to work on your comic. I made this HUGE mistake in college, and as a result, All Saints sat for a whole year without updating because I had to spend every second of time I had on finishing my senior year of college.

Work Ahead. No matter what you do, shit happens. Try to do some work ahead of time (ex: upload a “buffer” of several pages online before the publish date) so you won't spend all your time frustrated and playing catch-up.

Throw Nothing Away. No matter what it is, keep it on record. Write it down somewhere and no matter how strange or flawed an idea seems, never throw anything away. I started writing short stories back in High School, which is when I got the idea for All Saints while I was writing a totally unrelated short story, and I wrote down everything I could about it and built on it. By the time I reached college, about two years later, I'd worked out enough of a plot and character line to write a legitimate script for it. And I've already written down completely separate storylines for characters that haven't even shown up yet. One idea can tend to spawn off into a hundred other ideas. Even if it by itself doesn't work, something related to it could make an interesting story on its own. So don't delete anything.

Pace Yourself. Never try to rush through a story/project/graphic novel just to finish it. This will almost always make the end result look rushed and poorly-done. Take breaks so you don't overwork yourself. For example: if what you're working on has separate chapters and you produce one page a week, once that chapter's done, take a week off, but make sure you'll have time to come back and resume work when you need to.

You are your own worst critic. This is the biggest killer of all when it comes to creativity. I've seen many a story/comic come to an abrupt end (including some of my own) because their writers/artists felt that their work wasn't good enough or was severley flawed. Sure, there may be some flaws that can be serious to the story that really do need to be corrected in some way, and you should always strive to improve your skills, but you shouldn't be obsessed with being perfect; you should really be focused on whether or not your pleased with what you've done. Just before I started posting the first pages of my comic, I had to go back and we-write several parts of it. And I know for a fact that not too far down the line, I'm going to have to do some major re-writing of several other chapters before they come out (possibly even starting over from scratch at certain points). If no one else does, you'll eventually find some minor detail that'll drive you insane, when someone else (like one of your readers) wouldn't even notice or, if they did, doesn't even care. The entire first chapter of All Saints was full of what I thought were serious inconsistencies (I'm really paranoid about continuity), but few readers have said anything about them, either because they're so minor that they don't notice, or they appreciate the overall product so much that they don't care, so I eventually decided not to worry about having to go back and restarting everything. And even if someone else does point something out that you did wrong, it's not always a bad thing; it gives you something to improve on.

And like Ryuthehedgewolf said, make sure it's something that INTERESTS YOU! The best comics are made by people who's incentive is their enjoyment. If you really don't enjoy working on something, then it really isn't worth doing. If you enjoy it, you'll put a lot more effort into it, and the end product will be of a much higher quality as a result.

And above all: PRACTICE. No piece of literature, graphic novel or otherwise, is perfect; but with enough effort, you can come pretty close.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:09PM
skoolmunkee at 3:11AM, July 5, 2009
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One of my problems with my earlier comics was that I ran out of steam/interest around page 100. I liked the ideas, but 100 pages was about 800 hours of work and I just wanted to move on to different things, different art methods, different formats, etc. And I didn't have the writing skills (or inclination) to develop a truly interesting 100+ page continuous story.

So, after being in a rut for a few years, I decided that I COULD do a comic that would add up to many pages, if I instead worked around a THEME and had separate stories of 20-30 pages each. That way I could have new stories, they could stay short, I could use new art themes, etc if I wanted, but would add to the total.

That comic (made-up stories) only has 4 completed pages so far T_T Mostly because I'm more interested in other comics first. I'll settle down to it though, I have a couple stories planned out already and if I've stayed interested in them after 2 years I think they'll last.
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:42PM
NickGuy at 10:53AM, July 5, 2009
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its your comic. if you cant come up with an idea that you're so pumped about you just want to draw it and draw it, then change it into what you want to draw. or say.

“Kung Fu Komix IS…hardcore martial art action all the way. 8/10” -Harkovast
“Kung Fu Komix is that rare comic that is made with heart and love of the medium, and it delivers” -Zenstrive
“Kung Fu Komix is…so awesome” -threeeyeswurm
“Kung Fu Komix is..told with all the stupid exuberance of the genre it parodies” -The Real Macabre
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:16PM
Arico at 12:12PM, July 5, 2009
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Thanks everyone.

You all have excellent points on the importance of story, and the general love of your comic. I liked the point made by Aurora, about starting a smaller project first; however, it does seem a little anticlimactic to put your heart into something destined to be so short. I'd like to shout out to AccoSpoot about his point regarding fans. I do truly believe that the glory of a comic is determined by it's readers, (despite what the other people around here might think sometimes).

The past couple of days have not been overly productive for me, though. Life has been busy, work, other promises, school and important errands all come before my own time. And I only have the energy for so much.. I'd like to post a new question.

To the busy people out there, who still find time to make their comics succeed…

What are some tips to make a comic flourish when you always seem to be so busy?

Thanks, again everyone. You're all phenomenally helpful.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:02AM
Gillespie at 12:48PM, July 6, 2009
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Depending on what your comic is about, you could have some topics about what's going on in your life and what happened recently. I also like the reaction I get from the readers, they keep that drive in me and I pretend that I HAVE to keep updating. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy making comics, and I only work on an idea when it entertains me. (laugh, solid response) I do get blocks and boredoms every now and then, so I make something a little different, or shorter depending on how I'm feeling.
This probably doesn't make much sense, but only work on your comic if you like it and the ideas entertain you. The most important thing is for you to be pleased with your art. Other opinions are optional.
Take it from a guy who updates daily.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:36PM
deepcheese at 6:59PM, July 12, 2009
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As far as staying committed goes, my advice is if you start to get bored with an idea that your working on, ask yourself why. If you think the characters are boring, give them an interesting quirk. Make them deathly afraid of chickens and then trap them on a farm and watch the shenanigans ensue. If your worried that your story lines don't make any sense (mine often don't), don't get too hung up about it. Try to think of your comic in ‘chapters’, and if one chapter is sub-par, just think of it as a chance to get better. Don't get too worried about if it's perfect or not- because there will always be room for improvement.

As for getting the comic done while your busy- Time management is important, but often difficult. If you can't find the time to work on your comic, perhaps you just aren't managing your time correctly. Try writing down your daily schedule, and see how much time you spend on things that really don't need to be done (browsing the internet, playing video games, watching movies, etc.) If you can't find enough time to work on your comic then, consider changing to a less strenuous update schedule. Also, you can take a sketch pad and some pencils with you when you are out of the house, and work on your comic whenever you get a spare minute. If you're at a friends house, and everyone else is playing video games or something, feel free to doodle while you watch them.

last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
GracehFaceh at 8:07PM, July 12, 2009
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Arico
What are some tips to make a comic flourish when you always seem to be so busy?

There's always a million reasons not to do something. If you really wanna do a comic, you just gotta dive right into it. You'll probably be surprised how easy it is to make time for something when you enjoy doing it, so make it as enjoyable as possible.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:38PM
mattchee at 8:52AM, July 14, 2009
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I'll tell you from my perspective:

#1 - Believe in your story. If you believe in your story, you'll do whatever it takes to make it work. If a flaw makes you want to give up after two days of research, you probably don't believe in your story. Either go back to it after a few days or move on.

#2 - Organize. If anyone ever saw how I plan out Mastorism, I don't think the word “organized” would come to their minds, but I, in fact, do a lot of careful organization and planning. IE - Once I have the story worked out, then I break the story chunks into chapter descriptions (I do 22 page chapters so I can print standard comics afterward). Then I take that description and spread it out across the 22 pages. I'll make up these sheets that have “Page 1” and then a sentence or two about what needs to happen there. That way I make sure that everything in the chapter actually happenes on those pages. Then I take those page descriptions and make layout/scripts… and then move on to the page itself. My exact process isn't for everyone, but I think everyone needs some kind of process.

#3 - Budget your time/Don't over commit. Someone told me when I started out, to figure out what the maximum amount of pages I thought I could accomplish in a week under the worst conditions… then commit to one less page a week than that. I thought that was clever… but anyway– You need to really look at what you think you can accomplish in a week pagewise. Once you come up with your number, stick with it come hell or high water! I have a wife and four kids (not to mention a job), so my days define the word busy. So when I took this on I told my wife, i said, “I'm doing this. I'm doing two pages a week, and no matter what happens, I have to post two pages a week.” So that got me some support, and re-enforced my commitment. And use your time wisely! If you have a chunk of time, USE IT, you don't know what's coming up, so at least get your pages for the week done, or even get ahead if you can. If you're busy tuesday through sunday but spent all day monday playing farmtown, you get no sympathy from me, my friend!

#4 - Buffer. Duh. Make a gigantic buffer. As big as you can and/or are willing to make (I know, everyone wants to post right away). Remember this buffer is for EMERGENCIES! Even though you have a buffer, don't think “gee I have a buffer, I don't need to do my pages this week, I'm gonna go play farmtown.” That's BS! Keep on working like if you don't get your pages done for the week that world is going to come to an end. Why? Cause at some point you're going to really NEED those buffer pages, there are going to be weeks where you have to leave town, go to a wedding, celebrate some holiday, so don't waste them on being lazy. Otherwise those things will come up, and you WON'T have a buffer left and you'll be scrambling to get your pages done at the altar.

Eh… that's it. Really you just need to be very committed, and I think you have to have a story that you want to commit to. If you don't then you need to ask yourself why you would be doing it in the first place.

Also, I concur that if you haven't done any comics or regular posting, it might be a good exercise to do a short story or two to start off with… It would also be a good way to get all the kinks in your process straightened out, so when you're ready to do your BIG STORY, your process is streamlined.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:55PM
cetriya at 2:22AM, July 17, 2009
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I sort of used to have this problem though, not was much any more.

I find that I can midlessly draw if I know what Im drawing. kind of like busy work, if I pre plan the story and layout with notes. Then when I'm feeling bored I just work in the details of the tumbs, sometimes not really thinking of it unless Its BG's I'm doing.

I only research at the time of drawing or i'll lose my day on the internet
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:39AM

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