Well, for today, I thought that I’d talk about webcomics again. In particular, the comics that inspire us to make webcomics. If you’re thinking about making a webcomic, then there’s a good chance that you’ve been inspired to make one by reading another webcomic (or traditional comic) and thinking “Wow! If only I could make something like that!”
The problem with this approach is, of course, that the things that inspire us are often significantly better than the things we can create at that particular moment in time. This is a natural part of the inspiration process, since inspiration always springs from things that seem to be way above our current skill level.
In order to be inspired, we need to see something so astonishingly good that it makes us want to create more of it. But, since the things that inspire us are far ahead of our own abilities, we are instead forced to find ways to fit as much of our inspirations into our own work as we currently can (but without directly copying them, since that would be plagiarism). By doing this, we feel slightly better about the things we create.
But, because we’re only adding parts of something better to the things we create, our creative works are still unique because they’re a mixture of different things. In addition to this, it usually isn’t too long before we discover something else that is also a hundred times better than anything we can currently create and start scavenging generic elements from it to add to our own works.
This is how inspiration works. It’s a compromise between not only our current skill level and the things that make us want to be better, but also between the diffrent things that inspire us. Not only does this compel us to be better artists, writers etc… but it also means that we still create unique things too. But, it can be easy to forget this.
I this exact problem just before I started to make the next webcomic mini series that will appear here late this month (about ten days after the current mini series finishes). I’d been looking at a lot of old American horror comics online and I’d also rediscovered an astonishingly good webcomic called “Subnormality” by Winston Rowntree yet again. I suddenly found myself wanting to make an intelligently subversive punk horror comic with hyper-detailed artwork and real philosophical depth.
But, then, I realised that I didn’t currently have the skills to do this. It would probably be years until I could make a comic like that. For a little while, I felt like a failure.
After a while, I eventually looked at my current long-running webcomic series and realised that it wouldn’t be too difficult to add some of the things that inspired me to the next mini series.
Yes, the artwork would still be the relatively simple artwork that I use in comics (to allow me to produce them quickly), but I could use a few colouring tricks that I’d learnt from old horror comics and I could experiment with adding realistic shading to my comics too. The art would still be undetailed, but it’d look a little bit more like a hybrid of the two things that had inspired me.
Not only that, although my comics are too small to include long monologues about the human condition, I realised that I could include more observational and introspective humour. Perhaps even the occasional cultured discussion about an intelligent topic. It would never reach the same level as the comics that inspired me, but this didn’t matter, because it was achievable right now and it was slightly like the things that inspired me.
As I started to take this approach, my feelings about making comics changed. I realised that I didn’t have to re-create the things that inspired me, I just had to let them influence my own works in some small way.
So, yes, inspiration is a compromise. But, it needs to be. If it wasn’t, then no-one would be inspired by anything, since we’d all just be copying the same things over and over again until we all got bored.
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂