Current projects need more doing. I’m making a lot of progress on an as-yet-unnamed comic project with my friend Steve. We’re settling into a productive groove and I’m becoming happier with the work I’m producing. We meet weekly to ensure shit gets done, and it’s working nicely.
Creative routine is key. Ours is to meet and get a few hours of production in, with a downtown lunch run in the middle. I have my drawing table set up with bright heat-producing lighting, and all necessary tools within arm’s reach. Steve sits at a table next to mine, writing and developing the story while I draw. Sometimes we map out pages together, sometimes he seeks my input, other times he’s got a solid page totally planned out and I simply draw it. For lunches, we’ve got downtown worked into a trio of places we go to: The Triad of Cheap. Hasty Market for gyros, falafels and burgers; Mark’s Downtown Diner (when seasonally open); and Queen Street Commons for the best food deals in town. I also ritually get coffee at Pyrus every morning when I arrive there.
I’m trying to apply this to my own comic, Diaspora. I’ve set and failed to achieve goals with this comic chronically over the past couple of years. My current goal is to finish issue 1 by September 1st. Chris Ware said it took him seven years to make his masterpiece Jimmy Corrigan. That’s not super heartening, except for the fact that his work is lavish and meticulous and that I’m no Chris Ware and my simple dumb drawings can be done in an afternoon. Anyway, from there, I may put Diaspora online or try and get it all printed, but that seems like a lot of overhead that I can’t really handle financially. Self-publishing online seems the best option. Waterloo-based Scott Chantler got his start that way, and the webcomic model is a good one to emulate. The thing about following models in the art world is that there is no model. Everyone has to figure out their own hustle. What they don’t tell you or teach you in art school is that you have to be an extremely shrewd capitalist to get anywhere. My goal is to have my finished work seen and appreciated, not to make money. I don’t buy art or comics so it’s hard to expect anyone to care or buy mine. If it’s a decent product, profit can happen later. That said, I need to get on top of finances. I need to grow up and build a life for myself. Wasteful and misdirected energy is something I need to change in my life.
I’ve got about fifteen pages of Diaspora #1 drawn and in various stages of inking, colouring and lettering. I’ve got the first eight done but am currently recolouring and revising some older work I was unhappy with. The most time-consuming tasks are the cityscapes. I’ve put a lot of mental energy into fleshing out a future world for the story to unfold in, and drawing it has been a challenge. What I enjoy about this project is that it’s forcing me to use all my tricks, to problem solve and to self-edit. I’ve become less shy about restarting.
I’m doing this all on my own, and I wish I had some guidance. I’m involved in the local art community and know a lot of brilliant artists but nobody is doing the same work as me. I’m in art school and it’s not preparing me at all; for comics or life. There are some local comics pros I want to get in touch with and seek some guidance. I don’t want to have to reinvent the wheel for myself over and over again, and I’d love feedback on my work from people I look up to.
I’m obsessed with space. That’s what got the whole ball rolling on Diaspora, and I’m transferring that over into another comic that I’m developing, and avidly following the progress of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, the first commercially-produced spacecraft to fly to the International Space Station. Epic, epic stuff. I also started a tumblr of space images, Cosmic Walkabout. Check it out. I’m trying to channel that enthusiasm into motivation for my own work. I’ll go do that now.