Anonymous said: How did you motivate yourself to start your comic? I'm trying to start a comic right now, but I keep worrying about dumb things like art thieves and people who in general won't like it. How did you get past these things and begin?
Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
Theft and haters should probably be the least of your worries at this stage, honestly. Focus your energy on telling a good story, developing an artistic approach that complements the story, communicating effectively with your dialogue and your page layouts, working out a production schedule, and just hunkering down and doing the work (which will probably amount to more blood, sweat and tears than you can prepare for, assuming you haven’t done this before). Those are the things that are really worth troubling yourself over because that’s ultimately how the undertaking becomes fulfilling…they’re the satisfying meaty bits of a creative diet…the marrow even…
…the colorful, delightsome dehydrated marshmallows in the soggy, beige compost of your breakfast cereal…not altogether unlike Life cereal, but not exactly Life, which is a shame because that would really drive this metaphor home…like the Kool Aid man through your living room wall…
There will be people who won’t like your comic. It’s not hard to distinguish thoughtful criticism from ridicule and resentment, though. Filter out the former and sift through it for useful information. As to the latter, well, electronic outrage from anonymous assholes is rather a fact of life in this day and age, isn’t it? No matter who you are, what you do, what your art looks like, how you write, or what you choose to write about, there are going to be people out there who’ll glean some perverse satisfaction from telling you how much they hate it. You can’t spend your life hiding away from inevitable nonsense like that, though, and trying to tiptoe around it by making everyone happy is limiting, sterilizing, and equally futile. Come to grips with the existence of the vitriol, know that along the way at least a little of it will pelt you in the face, and though it will quite probably sting, understand that it’s often more about the individual it’s coming from and their personal issues than it is about your work…then move along because other things are more important. Do the comic for your own gratification foremost. Do it how you want to do it. Do it genuinely for your love of the art, the process, the story, the characters. When you love it, it’ll sustain your interest and will demand to be done with integrity. The quality of your output will reflect that - work really shines when you’ve loved it so much it could kill you - and the quality of the feedback you get will tend to coincide.
Art thievery is a pain in the ass, to be sure, and while it can make you feel like crumpling into a heap, lashing out, setting the internet on fire, becoming a cave hermit on impulse, crying and rage-vomiting all at the same time, incidents are fairly uncommon. When they do happen, they’re usually minor and the internal melodrama is quickly replaced with resolve to continue along and address the problem as best you can. Someone reposting something you made and taking credit for it, slapping your art on a set of table coasters and putting it up for sale in an Etsy store, compiling it with a bunch of other things into a slipshod publication or app - these things happen, they’re vexing, but they aren’t career-ending catastrophes and they’re usually not particularly detrimental to anything but your pride. For rarer but more heinous situations involving revenues and corporations that should know better, the art community at large is usually quick to come to the outspoken defense and aid of artists who have clearly been wronged. You can take sensible precautions as well, like including your copyright information on everything and registering trademarks if you’re making a business of your art.
Yes, conceivably something terrible and personally devastating could happen, but you have to weigh for yourself whether all the good that can come of putting your work out there - the people you’ll share something with, the friends you’ll make, the connections you’ll establish with other artists, the things you stand to learn, the freelance and job opportunities you’ll create for yourself - is worth the risk. I’ve had my share of art theft headaches and heartaches, but if I had to make the choice again, I wouldn’t flinch in decision to share my work online. It has made all the difference in my life and career as an artist, as it has for many others.
Well, that was a lot of words. Sorry. I hope it contains something useful. Good luck with your comic!