Well, although I’m sure that I’ve talked about dealing with feelings of creative jealousy before, I thought that I’d take a look at how to deal with this issue when it comes to webcomics.
The afternoon before I wrote this article, I rediscovered an absolutely amazing webcomic called “Subnormality” that I’d almost forgotten about.
This webcomic is, quite simply, spectacular. It’s the kind of webcomic which you only plan to read/ skim the archives for five minutes, but end up reading for at least an entire hour. It’s the kind of webcomic which, for a while after you’ve read it, temporarily changes the way that you think and the way that you see the world. It is, quite simply, Art. Or literature. Or both.
Yes, the dialogue in it can get kind of wordy at times and many of the comics are too large for the average computer screen. But it’s one of the few webcomics I’ve seen that constantly makes fascinating philosophical points about all sorts of subjects. It has a wonderfully surreal, and often cynical, sense of humour. And then there’s the art. The art! It’s the most detailed art that I’ve ever seen in a webcomic.
Needless to say, after skimming and/or reading about one hundred and fifty old updates from “Subnormality”, I started thinking about my own occasional webcomics (the latest one can be seen here). They seemed ridiculously primitive by comparison – both in terms of the art and the writing.
For a short while, I felt like a failure. I felt like no matter how often I made webcomics, I could never reach this level of perfection. I felt like “Subnormality” was centuries ahead of anything I could make. But, thankfully, this feeling didn’t last long.
So, how did I get over it? Here are a few thoughts that were useful:
1) Just enjoy the damn thing: If you see a webcomic that you really like, but which is miles ahead of anything that you’ll ever make then – rather than wasting time feeling jealous – just sit back and enjoy the ride.
It’s a universal fact is that there will always be someone who is better than you and there will always someone who is worse than you. Everyone is somewhere in the middle.
This fact is there for a reason. First of all, how would we enjoy life if nothing else around us was as good as the things we made? It’s a pretty fundamental thing to enjoy the work of people who are better at creating things than we are. If you made the best webcomics in the world, what would you read for fun when you’re surfing the internet?
So, the comic you just read is better than anything you can make. This is a good thing. It means that you get to enjoy it. So, enjoy it 🙂
2) Use it as a source of motivation: This might sound trite, but instead of feeling jealous when you see a better webcomic than you’ll ever make, use it as a motivational tool.
Even if you know that you’ll never make anything quite as good as the comic that you’ve just read, aren’t you curious about how close you can eventually get to making something of that level of quality?
3) Use it for inspiration (but don’t imitate!): If you see a webcomic that initially makes you feel jealous, then there’s a good chance that it will end up inspiring you. There’s nothing wrong with being inspired by other things (literally all artists do this), but there’s a right way and wrong way to do this.
If you look at which general elements (eg: themes, panel layouts, emotions, compositions etc…) of the comic you’ve just read inspire you and then you find a way to make a totally new comic of your own that includes your own interpretation of those general elements, then you’ve been inspired in the right way.
However, if you just end up trying to draw and write in exactly the same style as the comic that has inspired you, then you’re doing it wrong. Why? Because the original creator of the webcomic is the best person there is at making that one particular webcomic. If you try to copy their style too much, you’ll just end up being a pale imitation of them.
So, make your own webcomic, in your own style – but don’t be afraid to be inspired by better webcomics. And remember that the only reason you’re getting jealous of a webcomic is because it’s like nothing else you’ve ever seen before. It’s like nothing else because the person who made it didn’t just imitate the style of someone else.
4) Reverse it: Even if you don’t think that your webcomic is particularly good, if you’re actually making webcomics and posting them on the internet (even if it’s only semi-regularly), then you’re a lot more advanced at making webcomics than many people are. Why? Because you’re actually making webcomics.
There are probably many people who have wanted to make a webcomic, but have never quite worked up the motivation to actually do it. There are people who are put off because they’re worried that the early updates of their webcomic will look terrible (most long-running webcomics have lower-quality early updates, this is because all artists/writers improve with practice). There are people who would love to make a webcomic, but can’t think of good enough ideas (I’ve been through this myself). I could go on for a while…
So, if you’re actually making a webcomic (even an irregular one), then you’re more advanced than you think.
Who knows? Some of the people who don’t make webcomics might even feel jealous about your webcomic?
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂