Welcome to a new Blog@16 series, “Make Comics”– There’s a few reasons I’m moving into the “series” format, the biggest of which is that I think it’ll make the information I’ve posted  a little easier to find and presented in a clearer format.

The goal of the series is to get you guys who are waffling on making a comic to go out and MAKE a comic. Everything that you need to know about creating one will be covered in this series. I’m also hoping that a few of the other creators who frequent us will weigh in with their thoughts on the nuts and bolts of the process.

A friend of mine recently asked me for a tutorial on building a webcomic site, and I’ve also had more than a few screenwriter friends asking how you go about making a comic. In the interest of laziness, I can now point them to this series of articles. We’ll be covering everything here– from writing your story to finding collaborators, all the way to pitching to publishers.
Should be fun!

Now, the disclaimer: I’m not Alan Moore. I’m not Scott McCloud. And I’m not Warren Ellis (my liver couldn’t handle being Warren Ellis!)– I’m just a guy who is 3 issues into a comic. But I’ve kicked around the business enough to have gained a halfway decent perspective– so, I figure I’m in an ok place to pass that along.

So with that, let’s get started, shall we?


Level of Commitment: High.
Cost: Free

Seriously. If you’re thinking about making a comic, quit while you’re ahead. It’ll save you a lot of time, money, and frustration.

I get it. You’ve always wanted to make your own comic, put it out there for the world to see– maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll get to make a living at it. Quit the horrible cubical job you have. Live the life of an awesome creator. Make billions off of the cartoon rights.
Except that’s not going to happen. If you want to be a Todd McFarlane-esque Comic Book/Video Game/Toy mogul–  you’d really be better served buying 8 lottery tickets a day. Trust me, your odds are better there.

Maybe you aren’t in it for the money.
You should still quit.

You might not realize the amount of time it’s going to take you to really do this thing. If you’re working a day job, it means that you’ll come home after a tough day and have to face a blank page. Why? Because your second shift just started. Would you really work an extra job for no money? Wouldn’t it be better for your bank account in the long run if you just picked up a night time job? I mean, they’ll pay you!

There’s also that video game coming out next week. You won’t have time to play that, despite the fact that everyone on Twitter is talking about how awesome it is.

You won’t have time to hang out with your friends and family. I mean, you’ll be able to squeeze in time here and there– but  your mind is going to be elsewhere. That phrase, “Quality Time”? Yeah, that’s gone.

Maybe you don’t have a family– maybe you’re single: Well, you’ll probably stay that way. Because you don’t get to meet people while you’re sitting at home alone and working all night long.

So trust me. Quit while you’re ahead. The road of NOT making stuff is infinitely easier. I haven’t even gotten into the part where you slave for months on a project and everyone you show it to hates it.
…oh, they won’t tell you they hate it. They’ll just whisper behind your back. But you’ll know when they politely smile and say “oh, that’s nice…”

It’ll be easier. Your life will be more fulfilling. Don’t even start…you’ll have more time to take care of yourself. You’ll be in better shape, you’ll have a more active social life, and if you want to pursue this as a full-time thing, you’ll make more money doing something else.

Ok. You can stop reading now. You quit, right?

You’re back.
Or maybe you never left. But I kinda hope you did. Because if you did leave…if you DID go off and quit, you might have learned something about yourself:

You can’t quit.

It sucks. Some people are just wired  with a inherent need to create. You tried to leave, but it sucked you back in.

Quitting, and I mean REALLY quitting teaches you something: You can’t do it. Your brain won’t let you.

Like an alcoholic, it’s good to identify. That’s why the first step I recommend is quitting. Because once you come to the realization you can’t–  you’ve backed yourself into a corner. You might as well get on with creating, because… you’ve got no other choice.

A man once told me, “Get busy livin’, or get busy dying.” That man’s name was Tim Robbins. He didn’t actually say it to me, he said it to Morgan Freeman, and I am not Morgan Freeman…although I wouldn’t mind if you read my writing in his voice.
Point being, it’s time to get started.

Now, if you’re like me, you aren’t independently wealthy. You’ve got a job because you have bills. You want to quit your job to pursue your comic, but your landlord doesn’t take original art as payment.

Well, you’re actually in luck due to Parkinson’s Law— which states:
Work expands to fill the time needed for it’s completion.

I know how it goes: Wake up, go to work, commute home sucks, you’ve got “house stuff” to do as soon as you walk in the door. Suddenly it’s 11pm and you just want to zone out on some TV.

Weekends are no better– You’ve got errands to run, maybe a birthday party to hit. Plus, you’re exhausted from the week– you don’t have time to create.

But you do…You’ve just got to find it.

And the thing is: You’ll accomplish more in that time than someone who has a totally free day. Why? Because you HAVE to.

I’ve been on a lot of film/TV productions and sets, and there’s a saying there (I think it’s true of a lot of offices as well): You want something done? Ask someone who’s busy.
You’re busy. I know. But the time is there. Just an hour or two a day– scheduled. That’s the important part.
Ever wanted to write a novel, but were daunted by the thought of the massive size an undertaking like that would take? You don’t have the time to write a novel!

But you probably have the time to write one page a day. If you did that, just one page a day, for a year: You’d have a 365 page novel.
You’ve already quit and come back, so there’s no point in denying you have to create. And there’s no reason you’ll be as miserable as I outlined at the start of this piece (you know that was just to weed the weak ones out, right?)– You just have to play it smart.

Productivity Tools

I’m a tad wary of Productivity Tools– I like to muss with them from time to time, but generally I end up wasting a ton of time futzing around with them and NOT working– thus defeating the entire premise.
That said, here’s your most important productivity tool:

A desk.

That’s it. Just a desk.  A workspace that says: “I’m working here, please don’t bother me.” If you live with family members, you’ll be surprised how effective it is at dissuading them from interrupting  you.
It’ll also slowly put you in the mindset of getting things done. This is your space. This is where you get things done.

Speaking of productivity and getting things done, have you heard of the GTD system?
That’d be Merlin Mann’s 43 Folders – Which is a great system of organization and getting things done. Give it a read over– I’m not saying it’s going to be a complete solution for you, it wasn’t for me, but I did pilfer a thing or two out of it that I was able to integrate into my own work habits.

A calendar is really important. Particularly if you’re like me and you’re juggling multiple projects. And honestly, Google’s Calendar is fantastic for scheduling tons of stuff– I actually stole a bit from Wastelands writer Antony Johnson in terms of my calendar setup– check it out:

If you don’t think you have time, start with a log of a week– don’t focus on creating, just figure out what it is you do with the hours in the day. THEN find holes.

If you can, try to schedule your projects to the hours that you work best. For me, I’m a night owl. My strongest creative impulses come to me between the hours of 10pm to 4am– so I schedule my writing session for those times. I’m not always up until 4am…but I know I can be.
(I’ll also suffer for it the next day…but hey: That’s the price of art!)

No matter how hectic your life is, you can figure out an hour or two for yourself a few times a week. Find those times and book yourself. Don’t allow interruptions. Turn off the internet if you can. Don’t check up on Facebook/Twitter– this is not the time.

Now’s the time to create. Like Tim Robbins said: Get busy living, or get busy dying.

Next week: It starts with the Story, stupid!

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Back in a bit with a supplimentary blog/contest!!
And next week: