Well, at the time of writing this article, I’ve started preparing a webcomic mini series (which will feature the four characters who appear in most of my more recent webcomics) that will appear here in mid-late January.
Anyway, one of the things that I want to try to do with this mini series is to make it a slightly more introspection-based one. Here’s a preview from the first comic in the mini series:
So, for today, I thought that I’d take a brief look at several things to remember when including introspective stuff in your webcomics.
1) It doesn’t have to be depressing: Usually, when the word “introspective” is used to describe creative works, it’s often a synonym for “depressing”. But, introspection can be so much more than that. It can include hilarious paradoxes that you’ve noticed, it can include thoughts about a range of philosophical topics, it can include thoughts about all sorts of things, it can include reactions to the surrounding culture, it can include the most joyous of daydreams etc….
Then again, you probably know this anyway. After all, the types of people who tend to instantly characterise “introspective” as “depressing” are usually people who don’t tend to do much introspection. Introspection can be a wonderful and uplifting thing, and it can be a depressing thing. It can be both or either. But I still don’t understand how some people go through their lives without it.
So, don’t just focus on one side of it. Introspection can be happy too.
2) Remember the tone: If you’re going to include introspective stuff in your webcomics, then make sure that you have a good understanding of what the emotional tone of your webcomic is. Once you know this, then try to find a way to fit the introspective stuff into that emotional tone.
For example, if you make a webcomic like Winston Rowntree’s “Subnormality” which is filled with philosophical, psychological and emotional complexity, then it’s fairly easy to add literally any kind of introspective stuff to it.
But, if your webcomic is usually an eccentric, cheerful thing then this isn’t really the place to include obviously “heavier” and more depressing subject matter. Or, rather, it’s something that has to be handled fairly carefully if you don’t want to alienate your audience. For example, although my webcomics have their fair share of cynicism and dark humour, I usually try to avoid completely “depressing” comics like the plague.
Yet, the comic strip that I previewed earlier in this article is one about ageing (and, by extension, mortality) and alienation from the surrounding culture. These are pretty heavy subjects but the whole comic strip hopefully won’t be depressing. Why? Because these subjects are looked at through the slightly “frivolous” topic of videogames. Yes, one of the characters has a small existential crisis, but it’s about… videogames.. of all things. So, this counterbalances some of the more serious subject matter of the comic.
So, if you know what the emotional tone of your webcomic is, then you can add all sorts of introspective stuff to it without freaking your audience out too much.
3) Don’t make it obviously autobiographical!: Yes, I’m sure that making autobiographical comics can be cathartic or empowering. But, if your webcomic hasn’t started out as an autobiographical comic, then suddenly cramming a lot of autobiographical stuff in there can confuse the audience.
So, if you want to include things from your own life and thoughts in your comic, then try to look for the general theme or idea behind that thing and then see if you can apply that general idea to something that actually fits into your webcomic.
For example, one of the comics I’ve got planned for this mini series is about the weird emotional dynamics that surround highly-inspired creative projects. There’s this weird excited rush to finish them (when you’re actually making them), but then they’re missed the instant that they’re finished. Yet, although some of my webcomic characters have dabbled in things like writing or art, they aren’t really writers or artists. So, when including this theme in my comic, I had to think of some other type of relevant thing that also had these emotional dynamics.
The comic is still introspective, but by stripping down the introspective/autobiographical thought to it’s most basic idea and then fitting that idea into the comic (rather than make the comic fit into the idea), I’ll hopefully be able to avoid shoehorning any distracting autobiographical stuff into the comic.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂