Past Utopia, Blog!
I’ve decided to put a foot into the murky waters of blogging.These blog posts will generally contain my thoughts, analysis and general ramblings on the nature of my work, rather than (usually) the subject of my work.
For those not coming here from my work, I am the author and writer of Past Utopia, Print! and The Far Side of Utopia; in addition I run Past Utopia Productions – which is largely just those two webcomics, but I am also working in bringing it into the field of independent game development.
What Are You Even Blogging About, Man?
So what can a fledgling webcomic artist/author/publisher write about with any real value? Well – I can’t give you vast insight into how to succeed, I may try some art advice down the road, but I’ll have to learn to draw first, and as for humor, I think Print! sums up what I know about that (save heckling for the end please, everyone will get their turn!).
But there is one thing I can write about, as it’s pretty much the one thing that I can say that I have done – getting started.
So What Is Getting Started?
There is this pretty big wall between most people and getting started – it’s that they’re bad. I know. I’m bad at things. And I when I started, I was worse than bad at things. When I started my art experience was mostly doodling puns in my college notebooks. But here is a secret I learned – and its the big secret.
There is no such thing as people that are good at something they haven’t been doing for years.
There is no such thing as the imaginary path Born -> Can Draw/Write/Design like a genius.
There is only Born -> Did something a fuck-ton -> Got Okay At It -> Did it a fuck-ton more -> Got pretty decent at it -> More -> Is Peerless Genius Of Wonderment and Who Everyone Envies.
Speaking for myself – and likely many others – there are many times I wanted to start doing something only to look out over the precipice and realize that everyone successful was better than me, then retreat. No shit everyone successful is better than you. They are already doing whatever it is, and likely have been doing it for years.
Here is a trick – go to any comic and click first; there are three things you will see.
- It’s terrible, because they were terrible when they started.
- It’s good, because its not even the first comic series they’ve done, and they got started a long time ago and made an entire terrible comic somewhere else.
- It’s good, because they went back and replaced the terrible one once they got good at what they do.
Holding onto the option three is one of the few things that preserves my sanity – the realization that no matter how terrible I do now, in theory I may someday redeem it. That other people are successful by luck or innate talent is an illusion we make for yourselves.
But all this means pretty much one thing – the only thing accomplished by not starting is delaying the point in time where you are actually making good content you are happy with – I know, I delayed that point several years and I’m not thrilled by it now. So start!
Beyond that barrier – how to get your stuff on the web, how to allocate time to work productively, how to promote your comic – they just fall into place. I will write a future blog on comic promotion in particular, but not yet – I feel it would be a little presumptuous at this point.
I’ll leave you with an example:
Between these two comics is ~3 months:
Is the one on the right “good”? No, not really. Is it “good enough”? No, still not really. Does it have countless flaws and sloppy work that I wish it didn’t? Of course. But it is by a large margin a hell of a lot better than the one on the left.
It is really easy to let negative opinions of your work – most notable your own – destroy it. Take it from someone that hates their own art and writing on a regular basis! But remember, everyone was bad once upon a time – all you’re doing is taking your turn 🙂