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3 Lessons After A Year of Comic-Making

Updated: May 15, 2021

Because I just wrapped up the last page of chapter one of my webcomic TUJEC and will be sharing it with you in the coming days, I thought this would be a good time to reflect.

Here's what I've learned from working on chapter one of TUJEC over the last seven months:

1. Brain Breaks versus Procrastination

Did you catch that? It's been SEVEN LONG months of working on just one chapter of this story. That is a hell of a long time to work on anything without losing interest. And, honestly, some days, working on it is a real struggle.

Sometimes, finding the drive to get up early before work to finish that page I was working on is just non-existent. Recently, I've been coming home from work so burnt out that I haven't had the brain space to work more on comic pages in the evening.

Occasionally, I cut myself some slack and find something else to do; read a book, play a video game. But, when it comes down to it, it's really been all about getting myself in the studio to do it whether I feel like it or not.

"Brain breaks are necessary and healthy, but there's a difference between taking a constructive brain break and procrastinating. "

2. Passion versus Growth

I don't love it. I don't love or get lost in comic-making the way I do in other projects. Outlining, story-boarding, paneling, penciling; it is a difficult, painstaking, frustrating, exhausting process.

I'm selling this really well, I know. But, hear me out! When I do need to take a brain break from the comic and I dive into creating a new illustration, I'm 100% more pleased with how it turns out.

Illustration work is where my heart is and what I'm passionate about. My hard grind-work on my comic means daily/constant practice with figure drawing, character expressions, composition, lighting, perspective, settings and environments. This translates clearly into more effective, better-composed, and more technically competent illustration pieces.

"Daily practice and consistent hard work on a project I'm not as passionate about translates into better, more competent pieces that I love doing."

3. Growing a Portfolio versus Shouting into the Internet Void

Sharing your work with and growing a community online on social channels is a large aspect of being an artist in the 21st century. When I share my illustration work on my social platforms, it gets a lot of engagement. The return on investment is clear. Illustration shares equal more followers, more eyes on my work, a larger circle of influence. PLUS, I'm creating portfolio-worthy work.

When I share my comic work on my social channels, my reach and views drop dramatically. It feels a little bit shouting into the infinite void that is the internet.

Part of this process has been rectifying spending so much time a on project devoted just to growth. I enjoy telling my characters' stories in a different, more visual medium. However, I recognize that I am new to comic creation and that while I'm learning, it is clearly not my best work. It does, though, as mentioned above, hone my skill set so that I am capable of my best work. That is where the ROI happens.

"Spending time on a project devoted just to growth hones my skill set so that I am capable of producing portfolio-worthy work."

As I work towards starting chapter two of my web comic, I'm taking a little bit of a break to create some other work and reading some additional comic material before jumping back into writing and paneling.

Stay tuned for the next page of TUJEC to drop within the next few days and for behind the scenes updates on my latest shenanigans in the studio.

As always, feel free to contact me through my site or on Instagram @msrmcgaughey with any art-related questions!

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