If you draw, quite often you will meet people who don’t draw, and when they see your drawings will exclaim, “I wish I could draw”. Creative talents seem to have this mystique around them. Whether it’s music, art, comedy, or writing, everyone thinks that the people who are good have been gifted from birth. Now I’m not discounting this theory (there are certainly people who seem to have been put on this planet to do what they are known for), but from my own experience, every step forward in all four of the aforementioned disciplines has been due to countless hours of regular, focused practise.
I have always wanted to be a cartoonist. I was five or six when I received my first Garfield book. I spent my youth absorbed in the worlds of Peanuts, Garfield, Calvin & Hobbes, and The Far Side. Even at that young age I knew this was the path for me. My first cartoon characters weren’t till grade five, and I still have drawings of them. They were terrible. All through highschool I was drawing. I created more characters, and started to craft actual stories with them. Some of the jokes and situations aren’t bad, but the drawings are terrible. I can say this because I have kept everything from those times, and the times after. My old bedroom at my parents’ house has a deep drawer filled with sketchbooks and visual diaries. Keeping your old work is important, if just as a measuring stick to chart your constant progress.
And progress will be constant as long as you keep at it. Brad Guigar of Evil Inc sent me a reply to an email I sent him years ago where he said that it’s impossible to get worse at something that you do everyday. I think I will remember that for the rest of my life. Around this time I was drawing stills from The Simpsons. Trying to replicate the works of what you enjoy is an invaluable process. I would learn the truth of that many years after.
Discovering webcomics, and specifically PvP in mid 2000 was something that opened my eyes. At this point I had started university, but having my application to the animation school where I lived rejected, I was pondering whether it was worth continuing with my passion or not (the degree I found myself had nothing to do with where I wanted to be. Not surprisingly, I dropped out a year or so later).
PvP inspired me to start my own webcomic, and really it was this consistency of updating frequently that started me on the right path. Oh a lot of the jokes, timing, and drawings from my first webcomic are atrocious, but you know what? I got better, and I got better at a much quicker rate than I would have just drawing on my own. Even better is at that time, there were huge webcomic creator communities on irc, through keenspace, and over livejournal. I met other like-minded folks who had the cartooning bug in them, and I have made good friends with, and keep in touch with a handful of them to this day.
I even attended an animation school in the years after. I dropped out of that as well, but it enhanced my skills even further. In the mid 2000s, I discovered the blog of John Kricfalusi (creator of Ren & Stimpy), and spent most of that year drawing for hours everyday. He created an online animation school, and I completed most of the exercises. If you think of your growth as an artist as a series of cliffs to climb before reaching the safety of a plateau, that year was the most dangerous cliff I have ever scaled, but I’ve been enjoying the fruits of that labour ever since.
That is one thing I love about creative skills, there’s always another cliff to climb if you want to. I haven’t been as bold about the cliffs I have chosen to scale in the years since, but even the tiniest hill overcome is a victory. As long as you’re not stagnating, and working on some part of yourself, you’ll be alright.
So what does all this have to do with being a cartoonist? Well even though my latest comic has been regularly updating for three years, and it has some of the best work I have ever done, I still doubt my artistic ability. I look at some of my peers, especially those who have made a career out of their art, and I beat myself up about my own work. A lot of artists do it, and it’s a terrible thing to do. Seriously, if you take nothing else away from this writing, avoid it. Comparing your work against others is one of the most destructive practises to engage in.
Over the years I have learned to love aspects of what I do. It might be the joke, the pacing, an expression in a panel, or maybe I nailed that background one of the few times I actually decide to draw one. My point is that I don’t consider myself that great a cartoonist. I have spent most of my life pursuing a dream that is still just a hobby. You know what though? I enjoy the hell out of it. Each new comic is not just fun, it can be a puzzle of placing the right pieces in the right spots, and it’s great to know that I can trust my brain and my hands to sit down at a desk and within an hour or so, whip up a finished product that will bring a smile to someone’s face (even if it is only mine).
So yes, people ask me how I became so good at drawing. They lament to me that they wish they could draw. I have been asked how to become a cartoonist. I don’t know the complete answer to that question, but I know I am on the right path, and hopefully if you’re interested, this article has helped put you on the right path too.
I hope this article has been helpful and inspirational. If so, and if you would like me to write on any other subjects related to cartooning, please let me know. Thanks!
I’ve been making webcomics off and on since the year 2000. In that time, there are only a handful of cartoonists who I consider true friends, and one of them is Walter “Petie” Shumate. He had a brilliant comic title Girl/Robot years ago about the misadventures of a well meaning robot, and a little girl who paid the consequences of his actions. Well last week Girl/Robot returned. It’s a fantastic strip, the entire archives are there, and you should go read it. Go now!
Hello dear readers and random passers by. Do you enjoy ‘Yet Another Comic’? Well as the creator so do i, but i would like as many people as possible enjoying what i have to offer every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday here at the site.
This is why i’m dubbing April ‘Yet Another Comic’ month! I’ve started myself a month long project wonderful ad campaign to bring in a host of new readers from all across the web, but i would like to enlist the help of my loyal readers as well. Do you frequent a forum? Do you spend too much time on Fark, Reddit, or Stumbleupon? Are you one of those social media people who have a bajillion facebook friends and twitter followers? If so, how about spreading the word? Not just for the comic in general, but if you’ve got a strip you love and think others would enjoy, why not use the share buttons available or just plain old send em up to the url?
The comic has been going strong for almost a year and a half now and i gotta tell ya folks, it’s not even close to peaking in artistic and humorous quality. I love creating it, and will continue creating, but it’d be great to know that more and more people are discovering and enjoying what i have to offer.
If you can help, i’d really appreciate it. If not, continue to enjoy the comic, and tell me what you think either in the comments, by email, or on twitter.
Oh and why is April 2012 so special? Well i may have a birthday on the 26th, and i may be turning 30. This lends itself to making sure April is the bestest month for the comic ever! But the whole 30 thing… that’s a secret. Shh, don’t tell anyone. Wink!
- Dave F
It’s been a while since the blog has been operational hasn’t it. I’m sorry for dropping the ball on the comic blog. It got weird each morning writing a blog post for a comic that i uploaded a few months prior, and then speaking in the moment. I might try and bring it back someday as it’s extra content, but the comic is the important part and that has continued uninterrupted (and if you’ve been enjoying it, feel free to leave a comment, send an email or click that share button).
Anyways i’m writing because after months of putting it off, i’ve transcribed the entirety of the comic archives. You may notice a transcript drop down below each comic for those of you interested in that for any such reason (on my end it helps with search engines bringing more people to the site). Future plans are to have a search function so if you remember a piece of dialogue, you can find the comic. The actual function is beyond simple, i just want to get it in the right spot on the site, and that can be the tricky part.
I hope you all are enjoying the comic and don’t forget to tell your friends!
So i’ve been thinking that while i like to let the comic speak for itself, I should probably be putting myself a little more out there.
Starting with the latest comic (for the 25th of June 2011), i will be writing about things in the space below. For those who just wish to enjoy the comic, have a read and move on. That’s what the site is here for.
For those interested, scroll down a little and i will be writing about things that are going on, perhaps posting some other artwork and talking a little about either my writing or art process depending on the strip in question.
So really nothing is changing except another avenue for entertainment and enlightenment*
*enlightenment towards the comic strip. Success per individual may vary.