Starting a new arc

The timeline in very short: after finishing chapter two of my webcomic I decided to take a week off – and then never came back, ended up doing an online design course to fill the most glaring holes in my drawing skills. That succeeded. I learned a lot of things, improved my design and perspective drawing game as well as how to harness the power of 3D, research, and learn my drawing programs faster in the future to use their juiciest features. The price was that I completely lost sight of my comic. It is not as if the wish to continue it wouldn’t have been there. I just couldn’t. I was so strained, stressed out, probably anything could have made me tear apart. That happened in the end, and after some confusion and recovery time, and also listening to the life and business advice of many voices on Youtube and in books, I yesterday returned to drawing SPREY. Chapter 2A is now chapter 3 and has a cover. It is not as if I didn’t do anything about it ever in the meantime, I have some notes and storyboards as well as partly reorganized folders with references. Also the comic haunted me in my dreams. We’re good. I am continuing in the system that worked, at least one panel a day, square format, updating it on my site, on the discords, and eventually on Instagram again, too. I just want to work consistently for a couple of days before I make big announcements, just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke and I’m still super dead.

I guess the past months were a good lesson in failing and why you would prefer a sharp cut end to something over slowly dragging along and bleeding out any time. I didn’t bleed out on my comic though, I snapped back in the end. My vast insecurities got the better of me and led me astray. I hope I am not taking all of them back as were into SPREY Chapter 3.

I have humble goals. I really want to make this comic and finish it. I owe it to the readers and to the comic, and to myself. I am standing a 100% behind Street Prey and will do my best. A chapter takes me around 3 months so far and I suppose we will at least have 12 of them (but the number is everything but exact), so that’s some time working on it ahead. I do think that I will become faster as time passes and with more work I have done. My planning skills might become better, too, but only with the experience of hindsight on having substantial amounts of work done already, so everything I make in the future after it profits from SPREY.

I am also eyeing at a day job in concept art or videogame making in general. I have fun designing or just creating games in general. But it takes time to cross over. I am also not a big fan of crunch culture. During the design course I have found out that I can crunch if needed, but that it is not a sustainable way of working, at least not for prolonged periods of time. What do you do with your fast big gains if you lie exhausted on the wayside after the rush? But I will not allow anything to get into the way of me making SPREY. It is too important.

Please call me out if I slip again.

It might happen that I miss a day from time to time when things get very rough or rougher than now, but I don’t want to. I never want to. It is a panel a day or not being me. And why would I not want to be myself? In that sense, see you after the next work session on SPREY later today. A blog can’t be a distraction when it documents action, not dreams about things that never become action.

Annotations to the cover (hey, you should have something exclusive if you read my blog):

If you know the backstory laid out in this blogpost, you can see how the chapter cover is less of a literal depiction of a sad Rich, but the manifestation of the devastating shame and guilt of being a failed creative, a failed creator. I have failed in creating. I have failed everyone, I have fallen. I have a hole of three months in my comic work. And yet here I am, I’m back. SPREY is back. Just taking action again and continue sounds like an easy thing to do from the outside, but do you know about the abyss of strong emotion on the inside? If we didn’t have that, everyone would just do what they knew was right and they should do. Anxiety is a big one here and it will never go away. But apparently you can learn to live with it and not get lured into comfortable inaction that makes you feel even worse afterwards.

100 Days of SPREY – 60

The struggle continues!

I have this theory that no long term project actually wants to get made. Otherwise most dreams wouldn’t just stay dreams and we would swim in awesome creations! Your long term project will throw any problem, challenge and distraction it can at you to keep you from finishing it, but at some point it will give up resistance.

I have good news today about the future of Street Prey(SPREY). I found a surprising solution for it that honestly sounds like I could have known earlier…but I couldn’t. I needed to fall off a cliff, go on a new path pushing my design skills and draw and 3D model many pages of unrelated concept art to realize something. And I hope sharing this serves as a shortcut for you so that you don’t have to go through that, too.

Like all of my stories so far, SPREY has been conceived in a vacuum. A version of Styxcolor was at work that had no understanding of how expensive time is and that designing a world properly costs a lot of this as does a huge and cool ensemble of characters. You will never catch me saying a single creator cannot do a thing. But some projects would require you to sacrifice your life to one of them alone and work on nothing else ever. This seems to be an unreasonable project scope to me. I found out, what hinders me from just continuing to make SPREY like before is this: I cannot afford to create a comic of SPREY’s original scope by working hours and pay I don’t get for it and also release it for free, at least not right now. People will understand. Concept art pays. But I don’t have to let you hanging. I am downscaling SPREY. I will try to tell the essence of it, close all arcs I opened and deliver a satisfying ending building on what I already established. And I will ideally do so within the next six months. That is my self declared goal.

I started off today already by writing a skeleton script. It’s pretty exciting as most things fell into place without much resistance. I am still a bit critical about the scope. That might still be a bit too many scenes and places to design. You will probably not see much movement with the characters on the other hand. So tomorrow I’ll trim fat or if I’m still clueless I’ll start to thumbnailing around. Maye that will influence and correct a moments or two as well. But hey, at least the script will most likely not get bigger than it is now!

And no, I feel no pain about SPREY. I’m surprised myself. Instead, I feel enthusiasm. As if that thing can overpower me, now that I found a way to break it down into something present me can do. I’m not sorry for everything we will not see in this run of SPREY. It was formless potential so far, so nothing is really lost if it does not come through. It never “existed” in the first place. Who knows what the future will bring. I have learned yet another valuable lesson from SPREY. And after all, it’s not about me. I’m worried about my readers first and foremost and that they have a satisfying finished comic that was worth their time in the end. I might have been so inexperienced that I didn’t even know how to start small and how to operate small. My new definition of that is: If I’m capable of pulling it off with my current skills and ressources (including time). And how do I know what I can do? The script will tell me. The design sheets will tell me. If I literally can’t do it, can’t write down a coherent version of the script, can’t draw the scene, vehicle or environment for the love of everything, it is too big right now.

And this leads me to the spectacular conclusion of this blog entry. Today I realized that a good chunk of my problems came from inexperience, from the faint hope I would pick up all the skills necessary on the road to become someone who can actually pull off what I imagined SPREY should be. I was dealing in I should bes and I should dos. When the truth was before my nose all the time. If I could pull off the script that classic SPREY would need…I would have done it! It is okay! So I didn’t fall out of the sky as a master. I have a much better grip on what current Styxcolor can actually do and move within a week of unrelated fulltime work. And I can and must go from that. I cannot base my works on someone I am not (yet), on skillsets I do not (yet) have. Imagine trying to buy something with money you will maybe make in the future (outside of the stockmarket). I must stay with what I have right now. Just wildly imagining an epic story without any constraints is easy I would say. It is much harder to bring it into a form that you or you and a team can actually make come true. Keep it real. Less is more. Start small. Your personal “small” might grow over time.

I hope the readers of SPREY do not have to wait for too long anymore. I will still do my best not to rush anymore ever and take the time it needs. See you next blog entry!

100 Days of SPREY – 38-42

We reached a milestone in the Street Prey Webcomic! We’re in the middle of the first action scene and the first character just died. Why are these milestones? I am not talking about making action comics and telling my stories anymore – I’m doing it! I’m legit now. And I quickly realized that the first properly written and drawn out action scene is never good. It almost cannot be. I will have to underwhelm and overwhelm the audience and myself at several occassions and only over time get a feeling for how much is the right amount. Street Prey is a grateful first, as it allows for a spectrum of bizarre exaggerations but does not completely fly out the window into pure fantasy in the end. Let’s see how things turn out!

Other than that I have been scrambling to practise on and learn daily, when possible, while also keeping up with other responsibilities. I don’t have my perfect schedule down yet, but I’m working on it and that’s sometimes the only thing you can do.

I am appalled that I didn’t stream for most of January. I had some incredibly bleak days where I had no energy for it…and that just drives the point back that with all twisting and turning I am still an introvert. I will attack streaming again as soon as possible.

100 Days of SPREY – 26

First of all – it worked!! With the tweaks to my process that I was experimenting about the last days I managed to draw 3 panels instead of one in the same time I usually need for one! There might have been some luck involved, too, but I will keep pushing and keep those panels coming in the „simpler“ style. I decided „dead black“, 100% pure black, is my friend as a beginner and will be using and abusing it until I myself become tired of it and become hungry for more nuance. For Street Prey it‘s absolute fine though, it really fits the tone.

Above: example panel with the modified style

Other than that I have been very disciplined. I streamed like a champ working on new designs for Your Land. I hope to make more progress soon. Apparently designing four humanoid races at once and making sure they don‘t look alike in Minecraftlike graphics is quite complex and requires some time and effort. But I‘m on to it.

I also did my daily drawing exercises. Apparently I got the ratios wrong, though. Several hair studies a day are absolutely no problem while making only one color study but making it with brain and a lot of observation was enough so that I needed a break. It might have also been because of the unfamiliar territory with this master study. Anyways, 5+ hair studies a day and at least one well done color study (well done in the learning process, not necessarily in the result) should be fine, too. I must keep enough energy to draw my daily dose of Street Prey after that!

And time for a little autobiographical note. I ordered a wool „loot box“ that is cheap but does not let you pick the colors yourself and got literally none of the colors I was hoping to get or would have needed the most for my current crochet project. But that will not stop me from finding a use later.

And just because I had two good days in the beginning of the week, I will not let my guard down. I have an ambitious program this week and I want to get through the best I can. I almost expect the overall energy level to drop towards the weekend, but maybe making enough breaks will help me to avoid any extremes.

See you next blogpost!

100 Days of SPREY – 25

The week has started just fine and we are 1/4th through the 100 days of SPREY again! I can‘t believe it is only 25 counted days as so incredibly much has happened, so many developments took place, new thoughts and ideas were thought, shared and worked on. Well, and hopefully more is coming.

I set a couple of goals for the week yesterday and I am off to a strong start. One hair study became 5, 3 color studies are done, The daily panel took me roughly 2,5 hours but I had more control over the outcome by tweaking the process. Also Rich‘s hair looks a bit more like hair already. Also I guess I condensed something I would have drawn out as 3 panels into this one, testing whether this would be a good idea. So far, the readers seemed to like that there is more to discover then first meets the eye.

Also, I finished an illustration today that I wanted to have done in december already. An arttrade piece for my friend Fera Feles from Instagram with her character Viola Blackwood. This is out of my comfort zone and I guess you can really see I made the lines more than one month ago – as I would make at least the eyes different now. But tested the solid blacks on the piece today and loved them.

I want to draw so badly again, will continue tomorrow.

Above: tinkering around with Willard.