Here are a few things I think I’ve worked out from doing comics so far. They’re not rules or anything, but just stuff I’ve come to recognise as lessons for myself. Perhaps they’ll resonate with you, too.
1) Be OK with getting lost
I always had an idea of where I was going, an ambition or goals of sorts, but I never really ended up where I thought I would. I’ve realised it’s just stumbling, leaping, running, falling, stalling and moving, forwards and backwards. Sometimes working hard, sometimes not. That’s OK
2) Be OK with what you do
Any creative pursuit can be hard. I nearly gave up in 2009 and in 2011. Doing comics has both improved and interrupted my mental health. I’ve drawn them when employed and unemployed. They’ve posed problems in my everyday life. I think they can come with a price, but what, of value, doesn’t?
3) Take responsibility for your choice
Take ownership. I chose to make comics and the one thing I’ve learned lately is to take ownership of that choice.
4) Prepare to end up somewhere you didn’t anticipate
I’m not making the comics I thought I would be making 5 years ago, but I’m happy with where I am. I also doubt I’ll be making comics this way in another 5 years time.
So have ambition and self-belief, believe the thing you’re working will be the best thing you’ve ever done, but realise that by the time you’ve finished it, you probably won’t feel that way and you’ll probably be a different person.
5) Don’t be a dick
When it comes to other people, be humble, be nice, learn from other creators. Be supportive of others. Be giving. Be passionate and invested in what you are doing. Don’t be afraid to speak out about things that worry, but take ownership of your actions.
6) Value your audience
Value your audience. This doesn’t mean you should draw the comics you think your audience would want. That way mediocrity lies. No. Draw the comics YOU want to make, but respect your audience enough to realise they’ll probably come along with you for the ride, too.
7) You’re one amongst many
I’m one amongst many, many, many people all asking for other people’s attention. But remember: they’re not competition. Other creators aren’t the enemy – so don’t resent other people’s successes. You’re not owed an audience, so just do your work and work hard at it.
8) Make honest work
Be patient. Be kind. Be honest. Draw and write with heart, whatever you do, whatever genre you work in. Making comics is more than drawing, it’s communicating and making something that is a part of you that someone else might also connect to and then it’s communicating about things that you both share – experiences, feelings, humour, whatever. That’s pretty cool.
That’s it! Thanks to everyone who has been reading my comics over the years. I hope you’ll continue to do so. You’re the best!