Crisis averted (for now)

Over the last few months, I’ve been in a bit of a chasm of almost crippling self-criticism when it comes to making comics.

I’m one panel away from finishing art for issue 2 of my comic which I managed to rewrite and draw in the space of a few weeks at the beginning of this year but I got hit with a wave of hatred for the work. I just kept thinking it was terrible and I shelved the project. It’s been sat in the almost-finished state for about 6 months.

To try quiet the voice in my head telling me to just quit altogether, I moved on to a new project I’d been thinking about, featuring pirates made up of various anthropomorphic animals.

I have a longer story arc in mind but wanted to avoid the idea of doing defined issues for this. Just do some short stories which eventually can be collected together into a book. The thinking being, shorter stories means there’s less time for my head to start overthinking it. Plus there’s the added benefit of getting that sense of satisfaction at completing something on a more regular basis which, in theory, should spur me on.

I hit the ground running. Got the first 3 pages written and drawn in pencil. I was feeling really good about it until it came to inking.

I’ve been keen to really give digital inking a go. Thinking long-term, it uses less paper and there’s less waste from empty ink cartridges.

I spent some time experimenting and after a few false starts I thought I had found a digital inking brush I could work with. But it wasn’t to last.

I finished the first page and initially I was happy with it but then I started to see issues. These weren’t the usual issues artists often find with their own work, such as faults in the art that only we can see but are invisible to everyone else. This felt more fundamental, it just didn’t feel like it was… me.

I could feel the self-hate bubbling up, that voice in my head telling my I was crap because I couldn’t bend digital tools to my will but having had some good feedback on the rough pencils, I was determined to get this comic done.

I turned to my trusty brush pens. I've used them on so many projects now, they feel safe and familiar. I figured this might be what I need and I was right.

After months of going from the finished pencil stage to getting pages inked in the computer, in a week I've inked (and lettered) nearly all 3 pages. 3 pages in a week sounds like a shit pace, which it probably is to a professional, but to someone like me stealing 30 minutes here or an hour there to work on comics, it's a pretty big step for me.

I feel happier while I'm working, my mind is more accepting of small mistakes here and there chalking it up to the charm of working with brush pens and not getting caught in a loop of constantly hitting ⌘+z to undo a line then re-draw. I'm quite a messy inker in some ways so I think traditional ink lends itself better to my style and way of working.

Take a look here and see what you think. Personally, I think the traditional ink has more life to it...

Generally, I'm feeling more positive about it all. Glad to be working with tools that don't come with a dose of stress or a cloud of doubt. I just hope I can keep this momentum going and stave off that little voice for good.