100 Days – 01

Starting the 100 days of making comics!

Big news! I have decided to tackle the 100 days of making comics challenge by Kevin Cross and today is day 1.

I want to get into making comics since forever to share the stories that I have in me with you. Unfortunately, in the past I often got distracted or was overwhelmed into a total standstill when I tried to make the jump. Maybe these 100 day will help me to develop good habits to break the cycle of failing. I will take this very seriously but still try to have as much fun as possible and to make it fun for you, too, if you decide to come along for the journey.

I‘m not a stranger to challenges and have been able to successfully finish some here and there. This is the biggest challenge I have taken on so far and one of the biggest dragons or windmills to slay!

What you will see from me

  • daily posts in this blog to keep myself accountable and show you what I‘m doing, especially on days when the work isn‘t something that looks good in a social media feed
  • daily work on ONE comic project which is “Corvus”, a fantasy horror comic.
  • general art and storytelling insights and advice on handling a long term project like this as I‘m learning it myself.

Day 01 – Anxiety buster

What would you expect? How would a story like this start? The artist sits down, closes out the world and just draws until her hands fall off. One thing will lead to the other and at the end of the day she will smile, nod and say, this is good, now 99 more of that.

Well, my story starts with me facing my own fears.

While I am a comics beginner, I have attempted and failed enough creative projects to know about the most insidious enemy of the artist…which is the artist herself.

Artists are creative, so everyone finds creative ways to fail or sabotage themselves.

I am someone who worries a lot and sometimes anxiety fully gets me, then I‘m paralyzed. I am not even mad at it anymore. I realized that anxiety is just a part of me, of everyone, a protection mechanism that just wants to keep us safe but sometimes zealously overdoes it. To make it through this challenge, I cannot rely on passion, impulse, inspiration or willpower to keep anxiety at bay– everything will be spent after 14 days latest. Anxiety is eager to embrace me after that. So why don‘t I first of all offer it a chair at my table and present it with a good plan?

This might be interesting for other fearful creators, too, so I‘m writing it out in detail for me and for you.

I will feel constant discomfort.

The ultimate security that anxiety wants to be quiet is an illusion, an abstract ideal. But on the other hand things aren‘t as dire as imagination tends to paint them. Anxiety is a helper, an advisor to navigate the dangers of the world, but sometimes you must turn down words, thoughts, feelings that the advice presents and still do the risky thing. Doing nothing will not ease the discomfort.

I might not finish a comic or a significant part of it in 100 days, even with best efforts.

And this is okay. I am too inexperienced to make realistic predictions how much I‘ll get done. I‘m even too inexperienced to have realistic expectations about what I could and should do and how it should be done! So out the window with that. I‘m promising myself to focus on one step after another, one problem at a time.

I am so slow.

I will get faster later when I have more experience with the task at hand. Instead of worrying about a task taking too long, I will make notes about it to predict how much time to plan in for this task in future projects.

I don‘t know what I‘m doing.

I will know later, when I have successfully finished a couple of projects of this same kind and have run through this creation cycle several times. Somehow one day I started to draw, too, without much clue about anything. Also I can rely on myself having overplanned things and collected enough abstract knowledge about the process that I cannot truly get lost. If anxiety has perks, that‘s one of them. You never do too few research.

My work is sub par.

I cannot compare my work with that of seasoned professionals. I am just starting out. But I‘m also not the artistic cave troll I fear I could be. I promise myself to stay mindful of what I‘m doing and stay open to learning and to listen to criticism. And even if I‘m bad, really bad, today, I will get better over time if I stay mindful and open.

I am too afraid to start.

Then I am dead. Living is transformation and in order to transform, you must act. Falling, crashing and getting up again is a natural part of that.

I‘m saving up my best for my most important project later…am I?

This is so wrong you want to slap yourself. You have most energy for what you love the most. And you need every bit of energy you can get to push through the first cycles, especially through the struggles of the middle or at the end. Discard small and medium ideas and go for your best, those that give you most anxiety. If the results of your first projects finished in this way are abysmal, you should have enough love for your best projects to revisit them and improve them, right?

Also it‘s not even possible to consciously and predictably save up your best. Give your all or save energy fully for other things. Imagine you were a plant…can you grow half a fruit?

I‘m sure I will give up in the middle

You are acknowledging the nature and reality of the task ahead. In the middle, you are on your own. Impulse, willpower and inspiration will have left, anxiety, worry and distractions will be starting to tear you apart. You as your own hero will have to develop the fortitude to push through that.

What if I never get good, even after hundreds of pages?

Then you know. Note that you are the last person to notice their own progress and that it usually happens in baby steps, too.

There is so much to do, I am overwhelmed.

One step at a time. And really go the step, otherwise you are not alive.

What if I have new, better ideas for different projects?

If you truly believe in their greatness, quickly write them down and look at them later, then ignore everything and push on. You can see colorful pollen flying everywhere, but you are on the mission to care for a young tree and this tree alone currently.

What if I give up one chapter before the end?

This could indeed be one of the hardest points in the journey. It‘s the last chance to really messing up. You will probably be numb from feeling the void. But then you do this: start investing in this point from the beginning on and leave yourself nice messages both by you and your characters, possibly ask friends to make a stash with encouraging words for exactly this moment. Prepare a playlist of epic music. Be kind to yourself. You will thank yourself for completing the cycle in hindsight, even if in the now it seems excruciating to merely exist.

My words cannot even express everything I learned and understood while writing them down. Sometimes thoughts and ideas develop a life of their own and transform in the mind to new ones that cannot be found in the original text. I think of this blog post as an investment in myself, in sharpening the axe before starting to hack at a tree wildly and hoping for the best.

I will now go through my materials, do some sketches and take a look at my first goals on my way. Also the next days I‘ll introduce my project „Corvus“ to you in detail!

Welcome at my 100 days of making comics.