SPREY Log #03 – Looking for the Fun

General news

I have finished three comic scripts(1st drafts) and sketched a mini comic in thumbnail form this week. I have written a small game and will see that it gets made. The regular weekly SPREY webcomic update is drawn and will be coming in later today as well.

Something must have changed this week. I can’t remember any dramatic happenings or vows to do better in the future. But I do remember a single question that stuck in my head. “How can I make this more fun for myself?” First I was under the impression that this is a silly, selfish question. I feared I would lie down on the sofa, eat junk food and watch cat videos and bad retro flicks all day, following my flawed human nature. Indeed, “fun” has had a bad connotation in my head. But what I wasn’t seeing was how my exerting rigid self control all the time no matter the circumstances actually made me numb to effective self control when it becomes vital from time to time. When the button is always pressed, it’s signal becomes irrelevant.

So I carefully and with preemptive pain and regret slackened my hold on the reins over myself. The result was an increase in everything, even just an appetite for living life itself. And no, sitting down on the sofa and “wasting” the day away did not cross my mind even once. Instead, I turned to tasks I do daily or ought to do, because they are important to me and have the potential for making my life better in the future. The key is not to try to force anything out of your day that takes effort and can be frustrating at times, the key is to have enough fun with them that you keep doing them or are not so frustrated that you don’t come back for another session the day after. Suddenly not sitting all day and not looking into screens all the time are concerns that I take seriously, too. Everything I do or choose not to do I will pay for in one way or the other. And as I’ve stated numerous times before, I want to have a long life full of creating art, so I must behave like that. And my productivity didn’t really decrease. It slightly increased. I’m still quite bad at time management though or at setting and sticking to priorities. But at least I do have that bit more leverage on me that could make the difference.

I’ll keep you updated how things go and whether I learn more about having fun!

SPREY News

I have SPREY specific news for this blog as well. This week I had the great opportunity to try a different tweak in my workflow. From the time I did a page a day I still had that mindset of making a page from start to finish and then moving on to the next. This sometimes exacerbated how different the pages look, depending on my daily form and whether I remember what I did yesterday for what effect and with which colors and shapes in mind.

This week I made three pages, lined them and then colored them in bulk on Friday. I will probably hold the third one back for next week’s update to build up a puffer over time in case a really bad week ever hits me. But other than that, coloring pages in bulk really opened my eyes why comic pros work like that. If you have the luxury to put your mind on “oh, it’s coloring day” drive and think about nothing else, it’s infinitely more fun and somehow faster than switching through every step of comic making every day. I will see whether this was a fluke or is something that always works with next week’s work. I find it weird and funny to think about it.

So, Monday I will make thumbnails and layouts. If I realize that I need some fancy new design or have to do additional studies to get something right, I will try to do that the same day or sacrifice a piece of Tuesday. Tuesday and Wednesday I will line. The rest of the time I will color. It’s also worth noting that I do the speech bubbles in layout phase already. I never retroactively try to fit a speech bubble in a panel that wasn’t planned with one in mind. It could work, but why do twice the work when you can make big decisions like storytelling in the very beginning? And it’s so chill to sit there on Saturday with the work already done and look through it critically whether it needs some tweaks or last minute editing, or whether there are some obvious blunders like forgetting to set the color of the gutter to black. It happened to me twice already! It is also critical that I take Sunday off. It is good for my mental health. It is an opportunity to just play with other things and to come back on Monday with fresh eyes and a refreshed mind for SPREY.

Sounds good? Well, I will test that. And I will report.

See you next blog post!

100 Days of SPREY – 55, 56

Today I want to tell you a creepy story. Let‘s call it the dangers of creativity, but with a wink.

On Monday, the 25th of January, I wrote the revised script for the next chapter of my webcomic „Street Prey“(SPREY). Only after two or three days of misery did I realize I was battling to cope with emotions bigger than me. My own script that is not the best comic script ever written moved me so much that I changed. Usually it‘s the other way around, the comic changes when I learn something new about making art or storytelling. But I guess it is a giving and taking here. By the end of the week even I realized I could not just go back to making the comic like before without at least changing some things up for the future. In the meantime I spent a ridiculous amount of time on gamedev, concept art and learning. And this time something clicked and the quality of my work went up instantly, across the board. My own theory is that I did not make sudden new art gains but rather found ways to put what I already knew in theory down on canvas now.

My perception of life changed, and then my perception of my art and art in general followed, unlocking more that I could observe and do.

You surely know phrases like „Make art for yourself“ or „Live at your own pace“. Both of these are equally scary if you sincerely attempt to live them. I will admit I only very recently could give them a personal meaning for myself.

Making art for myself means making art you wish someone would make for you and others to enjoy and that doesn‘t exist yet in the exact form you want to have it. But then, when you think it through, you run into a huge problem. You have to accept a lot of hard truths. Think about it. If you weren‘t you, would you read your own comic? Would you follow the artist doing your art your way on social media? If you hadn‘t created it yourself, would you like it?

I wouldn‘t follow myself and I wouldn‘t read SPREY. I would hate it to wait for a panel day to day. If it‘s a cinematic experience, why don‘t you give me the whole scene immediately as comic or animatic. And if you need it interactive, give me the branches and have it all drawn out or shut up. That hurts, is incredibly amusing at the same time (you would think you as an adult would have figured something that simple out earlier!), and still hurts a lot, but guess what, artists are problem solvers so it‘s my task to find ways to make that work better. I am cringeing sincerely while writing, but I am also laughing. And the following myself problem is also easy to solve actually. My social media feed would just have to contain what I am attracted to as a viewer myself. Sounds obvious but isn‘t if you have or had a hard time loving or even just accepting yourself.

Now to living at your own pace. I had no idea what my own pace was and I‘m still not entirely sure I have a full grip on it, but it‘s better than before. I‘m under the impression I was constantly driven by fears and unreasonable expectations in the past. When I stopped caring whether I‘m fast or productive enough or whether I‘ll have something to show on social media at the end of the day, I could let my mind go and focus better. And ironically, letting go might help actually getting more things done. Social media…I am ignoring them mostly for now. That is not ideal but contributed to the environment that made me rapidly improve recently. That really makes you think. Also social media is not the devil. Nobody says you have to bend backwards for any attention you can get. I can only just be at so and so many places per day with my mind and focus.

Oh my… what now? I need more time to think about SPREY‘s future while making more prep work for chapter 2A. What a coincidence.

See you next blog entry!

Above: Rich and Willard translated into the new style. It worked surprisingly well, yet the question is, is it sustainable?