23 November 2010

reassessment

I started my own webcomic in November of 2009. I did a four-panel strip twice a week. after work, I'd go pencil in my studio, or ink at my computer desk. it didn't leave much room for a social life, and I did tend to slack and play games sometimes instead of draw, but I got things done.

I quit my day job in February. the hours and environment had always been repugnant, but it paid well. so I took the money that I'd saved and said "sayonara." I still think about them sometimes, fondly here, not so fondly there. they'll be doing that job (or something like it) until they retire or die, and more power to them. it just wasn't my scene.

my biggest fear when I quit my old job was that I would turn into a Howard Hughes-type recluse and basically lose all my marbles. I went through a very rough patch after high school; my friends went onto college, while my plans fell through. I holed myself up in my room all day, not seeing anyone but my mother for weeks at a time. I withdrew into IRC and video games, making shotgun friends with people across the country while knowing no one in my town, questioning my sanity at every turn. I became a shell of a human being, culturally dead, useful to no one.

deep in my heart, I was terrified the same thing would happen again, once I doffed my work shackles and concentrated solely on the comic. indeed, it has been...difficult. I try to get out of the house by going to Starbucks or just for picturesque walks. despite doing the comic for over a year now, I still don't have a decent work (or sleep) schedule worked out. risk/reward has fallen heavily towards the former so far.

over the past few weeks, I made a decision to make my comic more of a full-page thing, rather than just four panels. (I start out with an eight-panel layout and mess with it until I get something I like.) I'd wanted to do it for a very long time, but wasn't sure I could pull it off. after a year's passage yielded only two chapters, I wanted to try the change.

so far I've done three of these super-sized comics, still on my biweekly schedule. although the format gives more room to tell the story I want to tell, once again, I haven't figured out scheduling yet. I wrote an outline for the entire chapter on Saturday, something I haven't done before, which felt really good. but. this meant less time for drawing, so I spent all of Sunday - and a large chunk of Monday - penciling and inking this comic.

the next one is due on Thanksgiving. I've got several new characters to sketch out. I still need to learn perspective. soon I have to design floorplans and decorate a five-story lighthouse from scratch. I also have to do laundry, shop for groceries and bake a pie. I've been going to bed at 4 and 5 am. the thought of going out with friends is a joke. the only thing keeping me from going completely bonkers at this point is music and MST3K.

and yet, in the middle of being exhausted, lonely and always feeling on the edge of tears, I don't want to give it up. it still feels like if I can only get my act together, I can really make this work. from the outside, it almost looks like a form of self-torture, but I would rather do this than go back to the corporate world. I've met some great people as a result of this endeavor, with more yet to come. most of all, I've found I really want to tell my story, if not just to please others, then to prove to myself that I could.

2 comments:

Lisa said...

man, this is incredible! I mean, first, it's fascinating to get to peep in one someone's creative process, but also just to see how far you've come with the comic in a year. I guess the big price you pay when you do creative work is that it has to be such a labor of love, or something.

And always remember this quote from the MST3K episode that could have been if they'd done Waterworld: "...my boat."

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