Readers love it when there’s regular, consistent update on your comic. Little do they know of how difficult that is to maintain. If you’re starting out as a comic artist and you want to be successful, you have to understand this is a big responsibility for yourself. Before you announce that you’ll be dishing out weekly update, keep in mind of a few things:
1. Understand your own limit;
I was excited to publish my own webcomic, but I soon learned it comes with creative blocks, procrastination, self doubt and anxiety.
My webcomic is a long narrative consisting of at least 60 colored panels, and other webcomic artists with the same narrative can still keep up with a weekly schedule. I struggle to perform that kind of standard, but I don’t think it’s a failure in the process. I learned that in a week’s time frame, I spent more time figuring out the transition between scenes; and trying to get the dialogue as smooth as possible. The other phase where I refined the thumbnail, inking and coloring is time consuming, but still manageable. For some artists, they handle dialogue like a scriptwriter. Unfortunately for me, I often struggle to find a topic to start with a stranger, let alone trying to keep a conversation going. Comic making opens up an opportunity for me to improve in this area. I literally have to construct conversation based on the given scenarios!
2. Strike a good balance in your work;
Even though I couldn’t keep up with schedule, I still want to find ways to make regular updates more plausible for myself. So I decided to build a buffer for myself, to complete the storyboard for a set of episodes. That way, if I do want to start working on an episode, I can get straight into refining the drafts every week!
Every artist has different approach to keep up with their schedule. They have their own weakness that they acknowledge and make up for it. It’s very encouraged to use reference to speed things up!
For background, some use programs like SketchUp coupled with its numerous assets online; or even 3D Materials if you’re already using Clip Studio Paint; or just create lots of effect background as delivered by this webcomic, Unlucky is as Lucky Does. Most of the time, you’ll have to find a balance between time and effort to still deliver an effective comic.
For other technical skills involving human anatomy, I personally use Body-Kun (Disclaimer: that I didn’t buy mine from this link) and it’s been a pretty great tool so far. This is especially true if you want to make fore-shortening angles of your character. Even with Body-Kun at my disposal, I still do take pictures of myself for a more natural reference. It is easier to express body language using your own body! Clip Studio Paint also has its own Modeler you can use for this purpose as well. I find it a great practice to force myself to draw all kind of poses from different angles for my characters, as this comic-making journey is also my growth as an artist.
Hiring someone to offset some of your workload is an option too. But starting out, you’ll be working alone most of the time. Sometimes in order to lessen workload, it’s okay to spend less time on the artistic details. Hardcore Leveling Warrior is a great example when it comes to cutting down effort on details. As you’re reading on, you can see that some of the line work or even anatomy seems incomplete. But as a reader, you’ll quickly omit these details to catch up what’s happening in the story. As a comic artist, it’s hard to believe a week of effort creating a single episode has such short lifespan!
So in general, you’ll need to find the right balance that you’re happy with under a certain schedule. And even if you’re not on a schedule, there’s a balance to strike as well! There’s an insightful video of 4 Time-Saving Tips (from a guy who spent 13 YEARS drawing a comic) by Lars Martinson. That is a long time to finish a comic!
3. Surround yourself with other comic artists;
Comic making can be a very lonely journey, especially if you’re just starting out. That is why being in a circle of comic artists helps with your sanity. You can start with your own local cosplay or comic convention. Nothing beats being close and personal! Another great social media to follow other comic artists is on Twitter. You can start out by checking out the followings of official comic accounts like Webtoon and Tapas Comic. After you’ve followed the featured comic artists from their list, you can follow more up-and-coming comic artists in their followings!
But that doesn’t stop there! Interact with them. Ask them questions or even for support with comic making. One thing I noticed is that comic artists are shy in asking for help in the community, or that they don’t know where to start. Leave a message for other successful comic artists, and they are usually more than happy to share some pointers. You might get an insight of their own struggle when it comes to comic making too!
Sometimes, we need a little validation if we’re heading in the right direction. And that’s why it’s okay to share your doubts, because you’re certainly not alone!
I self-doubt a lot, like I could surely win an award for it. There’s often moments that I thought to myself if comic making is worth the effort. Is anyone even interested in reading my material? To make this easier for me, I remind myself the very reason I create art or comic in the first place. I’m grateful for the fact that I can create art every day. I’ve dabbled in all sorts of art, like I’ve been dancing for almost a decade, but there’s always one thing I always come back to: sharing meaningful moment. Through comic, I have the opportunity to share good vibes with strangers. How is that not cool?!
I tread on this artistic journey knowing that as much as I can give, I always have something for myself as to why I create art in the first place. It helps with perseverance for almost anything.
4. Self-care is top priority;
People often express their envy when I tell them I work at home. It is a freedom, but discipline is required to be successful in anything! To concentrate in work, we need discipline. And to know when to stop and wind down is just as important.
I admit to overworking because I had a long list of things to finish by the end of the day. Most of the time, I don’t always finish early and the built-up work momentum makes it harder to stop. I find it easier to give myself smaller tasks than the portion I usually struggle to complete. Focus on them and stop when I’m done for the day. It’s tempting to pick up another task, but I’ll get burned out more quickly. I’ll end the day making a short checklist for tomorrow, so I can get on the most difficult task when day starts.
Comic making is certainly manageable with a healthy habit throughout the day. Sometimes it’s okay to skip a sleep to keep up with schedule, but don’t let that become part of your work habit!
Like I mentioned, making regular update is a big responsibility for yourself. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s completely okay to express your feelings to your readers. Tell them you need a break or that you want to build up your buffer. Be smart about how you work. And you’ll definitely be able to keep up with a regular update.
How about you? How do you keep up a consistent comic update? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
And thanks for reading! If you find this article useful or you have any aspiring comic artist friends out there struggling, feel free to share this article with your friends!