Hello! Sorry to bother, but I've just been through your tumblr for the 1st time and am loving all that you do. If it's not too much trouble, could this extremely crestfallen comic artist ask for a few words of wisdom/advice/etc? It has been a VERY bad year for me artwise and I'm so discouraged. It has gotten to the point where I have failed so many times, it is hard to even try anymore. Have you ever been there? You seem a very kind, upbeat sort and I would greatly value your input :) cheers!
I haven’t actually been in that exact situation before, but I’ve definitely had low periods with my art, and on occasion, felt like I’ve failed somehow. Of course, everyone knows the advice that you should just get back up again and keep trying, and it’s completely true, but I think what’s forgotten is that it’s also okay to stay down for a while. Like you don’t have to jump back up immediately into making comics/drawing. You could stay down for a few months, a year - even more. It’s a time to breathe, and think about things, and maybe look at how you feel like you “failed” and your definition of “failure”. You can spend the time studying things you want to learn to draw, or reading and collating ideas - or neither of those things! You can just take a break.
Failure is in no way a bad thing, because it means you were giving your all to drawing in the first place! Which is absolutely what you need to do in order to succeed. You do need to keep trying, but it can be good to sort of pull back and think about why you’re drawing at all. I guess this is easy for me to say because I don’t rely on my art to live, and depending on how you mean by “failure” this may not be the case for you. But I’m all about taking as much pressure off yourself as possible, and creating a more positive mental space to draw in! Maybe spend some time on studies or drawings for fun where you can’t fail, you can only grow!
I hope that helps at all, and I hope you feel better soon anon!
You inspire me to draw, and I'd really like to start my own web comic, I'm just not sure... where to start. Where can I post to? You have your own site, do you pay for it?
Ahh I’m so glad you want to start a comic! It’s such a rewarding experience! There are several ways you can go about hosting, depending on how much time and money you wanna spend!
The easiest way is with a site like Inkblazers or Topastic. They’ll let you just upload pages and create all the infrastructure for you, including archives, chapters and comment sections. They’re really easy to manage and I’m pretty sure you can get a custom URL for either. It also puts you in touch with a huge userbase of people who use the site, so even if you host elsewhere it’s still a good idea to use one of these mirrors. It’s really ideal if you’re just starting out and have never hosted a website before.
Another option is to post it to tumblr! You’ll need a theme like Simple Webcomic Theme but then you can simply post pages like you would an image. And then people can reblog it and follow the blog, so it makes it easy to follow/spread the word. You can point a custom domain at it too!
The trickier option is hosting it externally. To be honest I have no fucking idea how I did this, it’s a total miracle. But my hosting is with Hostgator and they have an automatic WordPress install, and then you can apply a theme like Webcomic to manage it. I’m sorry, I can’t provide any more specific information because it’s all a blur of angry buttonmashing as I tried to set it up. I liked it in the end though, because I like having it on my own domain/website (which yes, I do pay for! Hostgator is quite cheap).
I hope that helps! All these websites/services have help manuals/customer service chats that will be able to give you more specific info!
I feel like i started reading a book and was suddenly cut off from reading so, being somewhat of a creative person i understand the feeling of being done with a story and not wanting to continue but is there a chancel you will one day continue the "Girl in Hell City" story or maybe release a digital book/novela. The characters were all soo interesting and well developed I can't help but want to know what happens next. Sorry if you have been asked before
Aww thank you, this is a very sweet ask! I actually still really love the concept of the comic a lot, so at some stage way way in the future I would like to come back to it! It just needs waaay more development and, well, cleverness basically haha. A combination of text/images would be ideal for me!
hi! i love your art! i was just wondering, is your comic "hell city" dead? are you going to finish it or what?
Hey, thank you so much! I’ve mentioned this a couple of times but I guess it doesn’t hurt again - no, I won’t be continuing it. Since I might as well turn this into an educational exercise for others, here are some reasons why!
1. Feeling like you “should be doing something” is very understandable - we all like to feel constructive! But sometimes, doing a thing just for the sake of it is not a constructive decision at all. I definitely felt like “webcomics are cool, I like comics, I should make a webcomic!” so I made a webcomic. This is not a good reason to make a webcomic, haha.
2. If you have an idea, you really need to make sure it can outlast that initial spark. A new idea will always light you up and fill you with passion! It’s exciting, it’s fresh, it has limitless scope! And once you start making characters for it it becomes even more exciting! However this initial spark can fizzle out really quickly if you don’t spend the time developing and continuing to add interesting things to it and making sure you believe in it enough to sustain it for a long period of time!
3. Which is why you should definitely take the time to do lots of research and development! Make the entire project a learning exercise and push your skills - a big problem for me was that I felt complacent, like I was doing “just enough”. Any comic I do now I want to make me learn new things, and get better at old ones!
It kinda bites admitting I made a decision I regretted, but at the same time it’s put in a place to better understand how to create a good relationship with comics into the future! And nobody should ever feel ashamed to drop a project if it’s making them unhappy or feel weighed down, as Hell City did to me. So if this experience helps anyone out, I’d be really happy!
hey because yours & toril's zine is set for preorder, when do you expect it to ship out and stuff? I've never actual preordered anything before so I don't really know how it works :U
They should go out sometime around the first week of September! We’re both exceptionally happy that we sold out of our first print run, so we’re just waiting on another. Thanks so much to everyone who has bought a copy!! We appreciate it so much!
Is the strangestar Take 2! Zine concept art and character studies for yours and starlock's upcoming comic? Or is it something else?? (I'm planning on buying so I wanted to know ha ha)
Yup, its for Mahou Shounen Breakfast Club! Basically there’s a profile on each of the characters, as well as a range of character study drawings by both me and Toril, and a lil omake comic about us at the end!
Thanks so much if you end up buying it, we’re so happy with everyone’s response so far and all the support really really means a lot to us! ;w; We appreciate it so much!
Is the flowers of any importance in Breakfast Club or is it more of a visual thing? I've noticed you seem to like to draw flowers growing everywhere (including on people)
It’s kind of a little bit of everything! They function as a visual metaphor, as well as being important to the story/characters, and also Toril and I just really really like flowers haha. I’m glad you picked up on it though! We’re planning to make a lot of small decisions visually that we hope people will notice~!
Hi, I just wanted to say that I love your art, and your rockin comics were so inspiring that I've decided to write my own! Any advice for someone totally inexperienced in comic-making? Also, do you have any webcomic recommendations? Thanks <33
Oh I’m so glad you’re inspired to make comics!! Just sitting down and creating them and putting them out there has brought SO MANY wonderful things into my life, I can’t stress enough how important it is just to get started!
In terms of advice, here’s what I think has been especially important for me on my journey:
READ LOTS OF COMICS! 2 years ago I didn’t have the remotest concept of the broadness and scope of stories that were possible to tell through comics. But there’s honestly SO MUCH there and even though you will definitely forge your own path, it’s great to find work that really speaks to you in the way it tells its story as well as the content itself.
START SMALL AND PRACTICE HEAPS! My first ever finished comic was only 8 pages! It was a good length to start with, because it allowed me to see it through without losing courage or motivation - the end was always in sight! Also you can share the finished product much quicker, which is a really good feeling. You’ll also improve wildly as you go, so it’s nice to start out a little smaller and not feel pressured to go back and make changes as you’re working on something/become more aware of your mistakes. That said,
MISTAKES ARE COOL AND YOU SHOULD MAKE THEM! It’s way better to make mistakes because you were actually out there doing stuff and trying and experimenting than to not make them at all! I look back and CRINGE so hard at my previous comics but it’s okay - we’re learning all the time, so if you get too hung up on ensuring all your output is of The Highest Possible Standard, you’re gonna spend a lot of time agonizing and revising. Definitely do the best you can, but also breathe and let go.
MAKE STUFF YOU REALLY REALLY LIKE! Don’t worry about what a comic “should” be. It should be whatever the hell you damn please. If you wanna draw a hard scifi political thriller, do it. If you wanna draw cute boys working in a cafe, do it. Never ever feel bad.
TALK TO OTHER PEOPLE MAKING COMICS! One of the coolest things is that there are SO MANY PEOPLE making amazing comics online right now, and another cool thing is that they’re all super excited about it and are generally pretty dang nice!! Tumblr isn’t bad, but honestly you should grab yourself a Twitter if you haven’t already, it’s where so many comic/webcomic artists hang out and it’s really easy to yell nice things and start conversations!! Peers are really important to have, and a huge part of why I’m still excited about comics every day! I’m so grateful for Twitter for letting me get to know the people I always admired and even work with them and have them in my life!!
As for recs, I definitely have them but this post is already fairly long and I’ve actually been meaning to do a big detailed webcomic recommendation post for a while! So I’ll end this here and ask you to look out for that soon~
I hope this was able to help a little bit! Best of luck with your comics!!
Hi just wanted to say it was awesome meeting you today at smash and your art is seriously amazing!!
Ohh that’s so sweet, thank you!! ;o; It was a pleasure meeting absolutely everyone so whoever you are, it was great to meet you too!
Seriously, thanks so much everyone who dropped by today. Thanks to you all I had a fantastic (though v tiring) day! I sold out of a lot of stuff including Princess Princess because I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but there are still a few prints left in case anyone is coming on Sunday! I’d love to meet you!!
hey!! have you posted anything on yours & kate's collaboration process? my friend and i have wanted to do a comic together all summer but we're kind of confused on splitting up the workload
I haven’t, but the way we work together is so incredibly rad that I’m surprised I haven’t found an excuse to talk about it yet!
Collaborating on a comic project (or anything, really) can be either extremely rewarding, uplifting, and beautiful, or it can be Hell. Katie and I don’t have a set step-by-step process, because we both like to get our hands into everything we make, but here are some things we do that have unquestionably worked for us:
❀ we’re candid, honest, flexible, and receptive to ideas– our own and each other’s. we don’t hesitate to suggest anything, even if it seems crazy at first, or it means changing up something that’s already been decided. by doing this we’ve created a lot of trust between us– whether we’re writing, or drawing, or even just chatting, it’s very Safe and Sincere. this allows us to be solid sounding boards for each other, and lets us develop our projects much faster (and, I think, better) than we could do by ourselves!
❀ we tell each other how much we care and how excited we are and how much fun we’re having, a lot. like, every day. it’s super important to know that you and your partner are on the same page, creatively and emotionally! that way neither of you spend time second-guessing the balance in the relationship.
❀ we don’t do “my toys/your toys.” we share all of our characters equally, and switch between them effortlessly because of it– this also creates instant ‘outside the box’ way of thinking, because although we’re very much in sync with what we want, we still sometimes come up with ideas the other person never would have figured out on their own!
❀ we communicate about the work we’ll be doing, what each of us wants to do, and what needs to be done– since we’re capable of splitting the art and writing exactly 50/50, we have the luxury of being able to do just about whatever we want! we also are clear on our other work we have to do– we both have ongoing freelance projects, I run Hotblood!, and Katie has another job besides.
❀ which brings me to: we’re both busy, but we MAKE THE TIME. Mahou Shounen Breakfast Club started out as something we’d chat about as a warm-up/cool-down side project, and six months later we pretty much want it and STRANGE STAR to be The Job. so, that’s what it’s becoming~
❀ and, finally: this isn’t true of everyone, but Katie and I live 16 hours and 9200 miles apart, in New Zealand and Boston, respectively. we’ve never met in person! we interact via Skype, Google Drive, Livestream, Twitter, and Snapchat– and we understand that we live in different countries and have different lives outside of the computer. no one ever is made to feel bad when they have to– or want to!– get outside and enjoy the sun, or go to sleep, or finish off their other work. but we talk every day, and we have mega travel plans, and fortunately I have some extremely flexible work-from-home gigs that let me keep nocturnal hours, and Katie’s work is also p chill!
as for you and your friend, what it comes down to is: get a handle on what it is you want to make, figure out what you’re both interested in doing and how much time you want to spend on it (be honest!), and just start developing it! every day, if you can!!
PS. SOLID #1 COMICS ADVICE: MAKE A PITCH FOR A PUBLISHER, EVEN IF YOU DON’T WANT TO ACTUALLY PITCH IT. Nothing is better for nailing a concept and plot down in a good amount of time!! Faith Erin Hicks has a great post about how to do that here~
Hey Katie, thanks for being so awesome. You're such a huge inspiration to me, and I was wondering how you deal with art block? I'm in a bit of an artistic rut and I could use some advice on getting out of it.
Hello! Ahh man, feeling art blocked can be really scary, but don’t worry you can TOTALLY smash through it!!
To me, art block isn’t a thought so much as a habit? It’s thoughts that turn into habits, maybe is more accurate. Of course a big cause of it is just feeling bad, bored, uninspired or inadequate for whatever reason, but what makes it an actual block is when this starts affecting your ability to draw and produce.
So my advice is to try and reverse engineer that shit and focus on changing your habits first! Just sit down and make yourself do some work, on anything! It can be studies/life drawing, thumbnailing a comic, writing a script, attempting a finished piece, trying an artistic challenge, or just filling up pages in a sketchbook. The important thing is to just keep at it! Set aside some time to draw and don’t let yourself put it off with excuses like “too tired” or “don’t feel good”. Of course you MUST take breaks and rest when necessary, but the thing about breaks is that they feel a whole lot better when you’ve done some work first! haha
You’ll still produce things you’re unhappy with - but you’ll be producing! You won’t be stagnant! “Art blocks” are temporary, and I think the best way to overcome them is to get busy. I draw literally every day, and it leaves me with very little time to get blocked! I definitely have bad days (some very bad) but when that happens I do as much as I can, then go to bed and pick up the pencil the following day.
I just started reading Yotsuba again and remembered you like it too, so who is your favorite character other than Yotsuba??
Ah you are very attentive!! Yotsuba is indeed my favourite manga ever! What a cute question, as much as I love everyone it has to be Mr Koiwai. I mean, he’s such an awesome dad?? And when I was at uni he was one of the main reasons I wanted to work from home in Japan and live in boxer shorts (both of these goals have been achieved so). He also seems super laid back and isn’t afraid to be just as childlike as Yotsuba.
This is also a very timely ask as well, I’ve been wanting to Get Stronger at slice of life stories a whole lot lately, and I’d love recommendations of good slice of life comics, manga, webcomics etc if you guys have any!
Sure! They’re both voice actors on a new anime show. Kenta (the one with terrible hair) is a veteran and takes manga/anime super fuckin seriously, to the point where if something doesn’t fit into recognised tropes he just doesn’t understand it. Gomi on the other hand is a total rookie and has never acted before, but is much better with emotions and people (though he has trouble seeing characters as such because anime is for kids right?). …. They hate each other.
They pretty much live in boxers and have perfected the Trash Life.
Mahou Shounen Breakfast Club seems suuuuuuper interesting. I feel like all the characters are going to have sad little lives though, haha. It sucks that we have to wait for something so cool for awhile, but that's because you guys are working hard, and making quality art, and quality is really super duper awesome!
I’M SMILING SO HARD MY CHEEKS ARE GONNA FALL OFF ;____; THANK YOU?? I’m so glad you have faith in us! We love this project so much and I can assure you, we have every intention of going off the chain and making it as good as we possibly can.
(I’m laughing at “sad little lives” though, it’s not… completely off the mark for some of them, that’s for sure…)
YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW PSYCHED I AM FOR MAHOU SHOUNEN BREAkFASt CLUB, it sounds like everything I've been looking for in a comic recently. ;_; I just had a question---will it be a webcomic, or will we have to purchase it? I'm fine either way, just I want to know in advance if I have to do ninja-esque techniques in order to sneak the comics in the house (parents're a little hairy with checking out what I read)
YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW PSYCHED WE ARE FOR YOU BEING PSYCHED ANON! We’re super glad you’re interested, and happy to say that the comic will definitely be available online as a webcomic! We still haven’t decided on format/scheduling but it’ll definitely be for free with various other little things you can buy if you want to, much like our respective other projects. Thanks for asking!
Hi there! I was wondering between Paint Tool Sai and Photoshop which one do you prefer to do coloring?
Hello! I actually only use Photoshop for my art these days, apart from anything I rely hugely on being able to change colours over and over and over until I get them right, which SAI doesn’t really handle that well IIRC…..
Unless you mean IRL then no (buy my stuff so I can go to America yeeee thanks)
But yes! We’ve been working together on an upcoming webcomic project for the last 5 months (??) or so that we’re both UNBELIEVABLY excited about!! It’s called Mahou Shounen Breakfast Club and it’s about voice actors and trash adults and is super meta and basically I love it so much and I hope y’all do too!