100 Days of SPREY – 18, 19

I feel like I broke through a wall this week. I am still surprised where I find myself right now and scramble to adapt.

Remember how we left off last time? I was worried because Instagram does not seem like a viable platform for me right now anymore. Well, the next day I started streaming on Twitch. You got to interact with the world and bring your comic to the people somehow. And it‘s going very well so far! Apparently, writing this art blog since months has prepared me well to talk for hours, even if I‘m not given cues what to talk about.

What I also learned very quickly is that if you have to show and explain your own process to people, you think about it differently than when you are staying just in your own head. I realized that my current process is working but probably not the most efficient one. I left that first stream so inspired that I practised and experimented for hours the next day to improve upon it. And then I actually had results!

Both of these things combined, realizing I can „survive“ in a public space and the successful drawing development, let my confidence shoot through the roof and it is great. I like to know that what I‘m working on every day is meaningful. That I actually have a grip on my process and can change things. My new best friend is Krita‘s clipping mask equivalent alpha inheritance now. I seem to really like the crisp edges this gets me. Now I have to follow up with a mountain of color studies to back that up with less guessing and more informed choices on what to actually do with it.

I‘m not planning to leave Instagram anytime soon, though, I am connected to some friends and colleagues that are very dear to me over this platform. And some of them do come to my gallery every day to look at the new panel.

Saturday I spent a very important hour with administration work, restructuring how I organize and view my tasks and finally thinking things through. In the past I might have avoided that not to feel overwhelmed, but I have to face it now. A wild garden also doesn‘t care whether you like it that way. If you don‘t tend to it it just continues growing in all directions it wants. There are always many projects, opportunities, ideas and responsibilities crying for my attention. And finish one, two new ones pop up. Everyday life really is a hydra that grows more heads.

My plans concerning my own stories had always failed in the past. Sometimes I still feel the crushing echoes from this. As I hadn‘t ever finished anything of significance I was also lacking the experience of how to plan, creating a loop of failure. But then the 100 days of making comics happened and I‘m farther into Street Prey than I was into any other personal project ever before. I wasn‘t stupid or lazy, I was just inexperienced. It happens. Time, patience, especially patience with yourself and hard work resolves that. You just can‘t see that when you are walking down the path through the fog yourself right now, especially in the beginning.

So after my initial unease to think about and prioritize everything in Street Prey that I haven‘t done yet but could and should be doing to push it‘s quality, I had a lot of ideas. I wrote them down. If my husband and me could finish a videogame, if I could finish all my smaller tasks so far, why shouldn‘t this work? And when I decided that it must work and I must find a way to make it work, I started to see it. I had made a whole mountain of tasks ahead of me visible by writing them down. I should be grateful for it, as everything is brightly lit and accessible now. I can walk the way, take the steps. It sometimes just is hard to determine which step to take next. Fumbling and falls are inevitable, too. But this is just a new adventure on the big journey.

Restructuring IV – The Failed Meta Comic

The 100 days of SPREY (Street Prey) have started already, but the restructuring blog series isn‘t over yet. In fact, finishing this series of blog posts on my thoughts and new knowledge from the 100 days challenge is part of phase 1 of the new challenge. Making room for new things also implies not only finishing old things but also properly reflect on them.

Today it‘s time to look at the failures in my comicmaking challenge. Two big things strike me immediately. The first one was tackling a much too ambitious comic, Corvus, first.

Wishes, will and skill just didn‘t align at all and I was so inexperienced that I had no chance to see that. Unfortunately I did not learn much from working on Corvus that way, as I never actually got into drawing the comic. The blog comics and having to deal with SPREY daily took over that part. But indirectly, being able to dissect it in retrospect, I can see where the problems were and in some areas still are. My desired environments for this comic are crazily complex! This is something a more skilled future me can attack.

My second big blunder is creating thumbnails for a full chapter of a metacomic. This thing will never actually make it outside of my blog or see full production. Why is that so? That meta comic chapter is the epitome of a bad idea!

It‘s about exploring a meta level of narration somewhere between fiction and reality, where my creation gets a chance to talk to me. It contains some good ideas that worked well woven into other blog entries of mine. But it would be a terrible, self-indulgent comic to read for anyone else!

A reader that is not me has no chance to understand that chapter if they don‘t know my blog and the characters in it. And even then I haven‘t ever introduced all the characters properly. So that thing was a good learning experience as it helped me to create something, maybe even to process some thoughts myself, but a thing like this has no business being out there published.

When in hindsight all the meta comics, not only the thumbnailed chapter, seem like a bad idea, why did I do it in the first place? I think I honestly didn‘t know it better – if you start out with something, you can literally start anywhere and with anything, you will not know what it‘s worth on any metric like monetary or progress at your craft. Another factor was that I was under a lot of pressure and for most of the time had not find my calling with SPREY yet. I had to deliver things daily and on some days Mikiko and making meta comics out of my thoughts probably saved me from dropping the ball. It is impossible to not make mistakes. I do not regret them. Thumbnailing that chapter was another sign that showed me I could finish something. I felt horrible about it, but I grew from the experience.

And I guess this is a great lesson in itself. You don‘t have to publish everything you make. Sometimes you will need 3-4 attempts to get one piece right (or many more! Open end!). I have this with my daily panels sometimes, and you only get to see the winner who made it online that day. And in other cases that means to abandon a project before a stage where you could think about publishing it. While you have to make mistakes, you don‘t have to make obvious mistakes you see and identify as mistakes like a rising sun on the horizon already. What you put out there to the public must be more than a self-indulgent artistic piece. It can even be self-indulgent if it must, but it must give the audience something more than just that in exchange for their time and attention. My metacomics have their place on my blog, but you will most likely never see a direct representation of them outside of it – and that is okay.