Although I finished preparing this year’s Halloween comic the night before I wrote this article, the last few pages were considerably less enjoyable to make than the rest of the comic was. But, despite feeling my enthusiasm for the project waning, I was still able to finish it.
In fact, since I got back into making comics in 2015, I’ve never really left a comic unfinished (eg: even though this mini series has a slightly open ending, it still has some resolution to the story in the final two pages). But, back in 2012-13, I still used to leave comics unfinished occasionally.
So, what did I do to stop myself from leaving comics unfinished? Here are a few very brief tips.
1) Plan first: One of the easiest ways to avoid unfinished comics is to plan out your comic before you make it. Just make a mock-up of your comic with extremely rough scribbled artwork.
If you lose interest or get severe writer’s block whilst making your plan, then either change it, take a break or try planning a different comic. This alone will help you to avoid comic ideas that are doomed to failure.
If you’re worried that planning will take some of the spontaneity out of making comics, then just remember that comic plans aren’t set in stone. If you think of a better panel arrangement, something else to add etc.. when you’re actually making the comic, then by all means do it. Just think of your plan as a backup that can come in handy if you get writer’s block.
2) Length: A shorter finished comic is better than a longer unfinished comic. So, when you’re planning your comic, try to be at least slightly conservative when working out how long it is going to be (not doing this to the right extent was one of the problems with my Halloween comic).
Remember, if your comic is going well, then you can always find ways to expand it beyond your original plan. It’s easier to expand a shorter plan whilst making a comic than it is to cut things whilst making a comic.
So, plan a short comic and – if it goes well – maybe make it longer.
3) Segmentation: This obviously won’t work for all comic projects. But, if you can make things that consist of lots of self-contained segments (such as stand-alone “newspaper comic”-style comics, short stories etc..) then the risk of leaving the project unfinished is a lot lower because, if you find that you are running out of enthusiasm or ideas, then you can just finish your current segment and leave it there.
Since each segment is self-contained, then there will be some kind of conclusion to your project even if you abandon it before making as many segments as you’d originally planned to make.
4) Endings: An abrupt, rushed, random and/or slightly open-ended ending is better than no ending. Any kind of resolution to your comic, no matter how sudden or badly-written is better than no resolution.
So, if you need to end your comic, then end it. Even if you rush the ending, then it’s still better than leaving your comic unfinished.
Sorry for the short and abrupt article, but I hope it was useful 🙂