Monday, May 23, 2011

My Views About Criticism

There seems to be a general consensus among webcomic creators that they should be receptive to criticism and use it to improve their work. I don't agree with that mentality. I'm arrogant and self-righteous, and I don't think anyone else knows what I'm trying to achieve with my webcomic better than I do. And I know just how flawed my artwork is and make a conscious choice about whether to take the time to do it better. I never ask anyone for criticism on the content of the comic itself, and I never expect it, unless there's some blatant error in the text. My mentality is that my comic is all my own, and those who enjoy it will stick around and love it for who it is, and those who don't like it will move on.

While some people think they could benefit from criticism, I think it would drown my inspiration if I paid attention to it. If I get into the mindset, while writing, of thinking about what other people think, and what they're expecting, I can't write with the spontaneity that I originally intended for the life of the comic. I do the best writing when things don't turn out the way I, or anyone else, expected them to.

Although I don't like people leaving critical comments on my website itself, I do approve of critical reviews written on other people's blogs or websites. A review is different from direct criticism because you're talking to your audience, telling them how the comic may be received, and whether it's good by certain standards - you're not talking to the author, telling them how they should make their comic different. The former thing seems presumptuous and even rude to me if the author never asked for criticism.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

When Your Comic Drives You

When I first got into webcomic making, I wasn't very familiar with the whole webcomic scene. All I knew was that I was making a comic, and I wanted people to be able to see it. I started out by posting the strips individually in my LiveJournal gallery. It was my Lifehouse fan comic, Lifehouse: Behind the Video Blogs. I was very enthusiastic about it, and so were my Lifehouse fan friends. I was so into it that I had to stop myself from drawing too many strips at once, because as soon as I finished one, I would want to post it online for everyone to see! Over time I started posting it on Smack Jeeves, started learning how to modify templates with html, and gradually learned a bunch of stuff about webcomic making in general. Although, to me, it wasn't really a webcomic - it was just a comic that I wanted a certain audience to see.

As I got a little bit involved with webcomic author discussions on forums, I started to think that even though I was a webcomic novice with virtually no readership and free hosting, I had an advantage over a lot of these people. While everyone else seemed to struggle with finding motivation and time and enough readers to make it worthwhile, I didn't. I was drawing my comic and posting it because I simply couldn't help it. It just leaked out of me.

I'm not going to claim that that comic got very far within the realm or webcomics, but it did manage to get the attention of Lifehouse, who actively promoted it on more than one occasion. That means success to me, more than a boatload of readers would have.

After I had been publishing Lifehouse BVB for a while, Think Before You Think was a bit of an afterthought. I just had this desire to have a comic that was all mine, with my own characters and my own rights to sell anything related to them. I had thought about the idea of monetizing a webcomic, but I wasn't going to do it with a fan comic. My Lifehouse comic was a simple gag-a-day strip that didn't touch on anything sensitive. I wanted to go deeper with a comic, I wanted to bring my characters to their psychological limits without crossing the boundaries of real people, and mix it with the type of humor that made the Lifehouse comic so adorable to its fans. I thought mind-reading would be the perfect vehicle for bringing the emotional intrusion on my characters that I wasn't able to explore with Lifehouse BVB.

Think Before You Think was never quite as passion-driven as Lifehouse BVB was in its early stages, but it still drives me to create it. I've never used a buffer for drawing, because I've always been accustomed to wanting to post my work fresh out of the oven. And I've still been able to keep my weekly schedule with no missed updates at all, not even for holidays or guest-comic filled hiatuses.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Own Perspective

So, since I'm a webcomic creator, I decided to start a blog on the creation of webcomics. There are a lot of things that most webcomic creators would do differently than me, but I have my own perspective on what I want to see in my work. There are a lot of ideas in the webcomic community that I don't conform to. But, I feel like I'm established enough at this point that I'm entitled to have my own ideas about stuff that works. Not that I'm very established, but, you know - established enough. You've probably never heard of Think Before You Think, but now you have.