Thursday, March 21, 2013

City of Cards C4.7: HERE!

Not gonna lie, I love a subway.

Chapter Four Process Note:

Probably the weirdest and most challenging parts of working on Chapter Four, at least the part I’m working on right now, is that I’ve drawn it once before. The first image is the updated pencils I’m working on for Chapter Four, the next is the updated grid I made based on the original version of the page, and the last is what the original page looked like. A few years ago when I was trying to figure out if I was ready to tackle working on City of Cards I did a test chapter. This was right before I switched to inking digitally and looking back there were obviously things I didn’t know about the story quite yet, but a lot of my original goals with this story are coming back to me.

CoC 4.14-15 Pencils 1

Working on this chapter the first time was one of the hardest things I’d done artistically, both in terms of how I pushed my skill levels (which still have a long way to go, but I knew that if I could draw this chapter I could justify the bigger project). I was so emotionally drained by the end of this process, the actual work and the critique, that it took some amazing friends and a couple of months to refocus and practice before I could start Chapter One.
CoC 4.14-15 Grid
CoC GoS Original
I’m now so grateful for the work I did on this test chapter as it laid so much of the groundwork for the main story, and I think there are still a lot of things I can pull from it that will help make the comic stronger.

Quick note: The weirdest complaint I have ever heard is the argument against hobbyists. Now, I personally don't consider what I do a hobby, but if someone wants to make comics in their spare time for their enjoyment, to share it with others who enjoy the same activity, and has no goal beyond the enjoyment of the artform and the creation process then more power to them!

I have had people tell me that things like NaNoWriMo create bad work. I have heard that webcomic hobbyists dilute the quality of webcomics on whole. I have heard all sorts of crazy theories about not pursuing something unless it's up to an arbitrary standard, not to mention the disdain hobbyists who dare to sell their creations get from some people. I have actually hear these arguments in person and it surprises me every time.

From my perspective, I wish more people were hobbyists. I hear a lot of talk about wanting children to be more well-rounded, but I think people forget that it doesn't have to end there. The person who picks up guitar to play songs for his friends isn't going to cut into Bon Jovi's sales, even if the guy puts it on YouTube, even if he sells it on Bandcamp. People are their own arbiters of taste. Works that are good will always be good.

Not only that? Bon Jovi benefits from that guy who shares the passion of music. That guy who can barely strum a cord but loves every minute of it? He's the one buying all the CDs and MP3s and going to concerts and telling all his friends about how awesome that new album is. If your reaction to his enthusiasm is to tell him to break his guitar and never share his music again, you've probably got some insecurities to deal with.

If you are so unsure of your own work that you think amateur and unskilled hobbyists are somehow threatening the value of your creation, step back and be certain that nothing can touch your work so long as you know the effort you've put into it. In fact, all it serves to do is to build an audience that is looking for that diamond in the rough. Make your work shine, and trust me, it'll be noticed.

This applies especially to the world of comics because comics NEEDS more people who are passionate and enthusiastic about the medium. Comics needs people telling their friends about all the stories they love want to see. Being an active participant in the world of comics creates greater and louder voices of passion because they KNOW what it takes to make a good comic. When there are too many people reading comics, that's when you can complain about hobbyists, because I don't see that happening any time soon.


  1. Well put! I hear this all the time and (not just about comics, but other mediums too) and you're so right. Plus, how many of us cartoonists and artists need day jobs to get by? So where would you draw the line between a professional and a hobbyist? Is someone a professional if they went to school for their medium? Introduces themselves as a cartoonist/artist first when they meet new people? Makes the majority of their income from comics/art?

    When I was at CCS last summer, one of the other students asked the teacher when he felt like a "real" cartoonist and he said when he'd had his first cartoon in the New Yorker. And that had been like a month before, and he had already published several graphic novels and taught comics at some prestigious schools and won some big awards. So you're right, it's really arbitrary.

    PS City of Cards continues to be awesome!

    1. What surprises me the most, I think, is this sense that if someone is producing work that you consider "hobby work" that it somehow devalues what you're doing. It's best not to preoccupy yourself with what others are doing (though maybe you could benefit from opening up your perspective to see the value in a wider ranger of art).

      Alec Longstreth really drove home the idea that so long as you are making art, so long as you make comics, you're a cartoonist. I'm glad there are lots of them out there because cartoonists are wonderful people.

      And thanks again and I'm glad you're posting on G+ now! Especially with Google Reader going away, I'm glad I'll be able to easily keep up with your work.