As regular readers of this site probably know, this site is currently the middle of a bit of a webcomic drought. This was due to a number of factors, but the most prominent one was that I just didn’t feel the enthusiasm for making webcomics that I did a while ago. Although there will be another six (somewhat uninspired) comic updates in September, I’m determined that October won’t be a comic desert.
So, I started a new short comics project. At the time of writing, I don’t know how well it will turn out, but I’m actually excited about it. Here’s a cropped, but otherwise unedited, preview of what I’d made so far at the original time of writing:
And here’s a panel from the finished update, completed a few hours after the first draft of this article:
So, how can you rekindle your love for making webcomics? Here are two tips:
1) Deal with feelings of webcomic guilt: If you’ve been posting webcomics regularly or semi-regularly, then it can be easy to feel guilty if you’ve had to drop out of comic-making for a while due to lack of enthusiasm for it. After all, it can feel like you’re letting your audience down. It can even feel like you’re drifting further away from your beloved webcomic characters.
Firstly, it’s important to remember that – if you’re feeling guilty about not making webcomics – it still means that you’re interested in making webcomics. It still means that you love making webcomics. After all, if you weren’t, you probably wouldn’t feel guilty about not making them.
If you let those feelings consume you, then – at best – it’s going to cause you to begrudgingly make a webcomic because you feel like you have to. Chances are, like the crappy webcomic mini series that will appear here in September, it probably won’t be that good. Feeling like this whilst making comics doesn’t lead to good comics.
So, instead, try to produce some filler content that is closer to the things you do currently enjoy making (eg: one of my very early ideas for the mini series which will appear in October was originally just to make a series of paintings featuring my characters). This idea may rekindle your love for your webcomic, or it may form the basis for a much better comic idea.
But, give yourself enough space to think of new ideas (if it makes you feel better, think of it as a “sabbatical”, a “fallow time” or a “holiday” for your webcomic). Be willing to change your comic if you need to. Look for ideas that, at first, seem closer to the things you do enjoy making. Then make them, no matter how different to your previous comics they might be.
Yes, you might feel guilty about not making comics for a while, but try to use this as an impetus to think of better ideas (that also make you feel good), rather than just to do more of the same out of a sense of dreary obligation.
2) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes: Sometimes, the “obvious” solution to your webcomic enthusiasm problems isn’t the best one. Sometimes it is. The only true way to know is to experiment with the ideas that actually make you feel enthusiastic.
You might not get it right the first time, but it will both give your audience some comics to read and give you more of an idea what you need to change about the next project.
For example, the six comic updates will appear here next month were a failed experiment. After getting more and more exhausted by the ever more detailed artwork and complex storylines in many of the comics I’ve posted this year (like this one or this one), I tried to hearken back to the simpler days when comic-making felt a lot more free and spontaneous.
In other words, I tried to produce six self-contained comics that contained much simpler artwork. It was, quite simply, a failure. It almost put me off making comics again. But, when I returned to make some of October’s comics, I learnt quite a few lessons from this abject failure of a comics project.
I learnt that, as time-consuming as it could be, I enjoyed adding detailed art to my comics. Going back to using undetailed art just took some of the fun out of the comics. Likewise, I liked giving my comics a little bit more complexity than just four self-contained panels can offer. But I still wasn’t enthusiastic about including a longer story either.
My solution was simple in retrospect. I’d use a slower production schedule (eg: I’d make one comic a day, rather than two) that would allow me to focus on detailed artwork without getting stressed out by having to make lots of it in a short time. This might mean that the mini series is a bit short, but it shouldn’t affect the release schedule.
In addition to this, I decided that I’d also make slightly larger 6-8 panel self-contained comics in order to allow me to add a bit more complexity to the writing, without committing myself to a longer storyline. It could well be the best of both worlds.
This new project wouldn’t have been started without the lessons I’d learnt from the failed one that will appear here in September. So, if your “new and exciting” comic idea fails, then all this means is that you need to improve it a bit more in order to turn it into something that you’ll love making again.
Don’t let failed experiments make you feel disappointed. If you experimented, then this still means that you care about making webcomics. If your experiment failed, then it just means that you need to change a few more things.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂