gonna be in so much trouble in the morning
TUESDAY IS MY NIGHT!
gonna be in so much trouble in the morning
TUESDAY IS MY NIGHT!
I really dislike making ads for my comic. As someone who overthinks most things, I get stuck in this logic loop that goes something like, “What could I possible draw that would communicate what my comic is about and make a person ACTUALLY want to click on a thing because NO ONE LIKES CLICKING ON THINGS NEVER MIND FORGET IT JUST FUCKING FORGET IT!”
And then I don’t draw ads for another few months while “DRAW SOME DANG ADS!!!” remains at the top of my todo list. Well, now that I’ve partnered with Hiveworks to market my site to new readers it’s been kind of hard for them to hold up their end of the bargain with me refusing to make ads.
Since retooling the comic’s focus and seeing as how it’s now ACTUALLY ABOUT SOMETHING, it seems like it should be much easier to explain the general gist of it in a picture and a few words. For the last couple of months I’ve been keeping a running file of taglines and “elevator pitches” for my comic along with possible images that might go well with them. Of course, in doing this I started overthinking the taglines and images. I was basically writing short conversations; almost mini comics. I started to get frustrated again and then I talked to David. He said something like, “Just put your logo on some art that looks nice.” Sometimes the simplest solution is only accessible from an external source. OF COURSE that’s what I should do.
For the ad images, I decided to go with the two main areas of focus in my new comics: My relationship with my daughter and my characters. While making these ads, without thinking, I opened the text tool and typed: “A Grown Up Geek’s Webcomic.” I think that sums the current state of HijiNKS ENSUE up rather well.
Playing around with logo redesigns. The current one is at the very top. Trying to find something flatter that will look just as good in black and white as it will in color.
Yeah, it was really upsetting that someone would take what I intended to be an honest and helpful sentiment that seemed to really resonate with 1000’s of people (judging by the comments) and twist it into something so bitter, hateful and useless. I don’t understand people that have a need to hijack other’s positivity and happiness just to make sure they meet their quotient of Internet vitriol and bile for the day.
The young artist whose mother wrote the initial question wrote me back to let me know how much she appreciated the advice and how it really hit home for her daughter, so I will take that positive result over any amount of negativity thrust upon me by a serial instigator and curmudgeon.
I was talking to a friend about John’s comments and realized that I shouldn’t take them personally. When people are unhappy, it’s easy to assume they hate you when, in reality, they just hate.
HijiNKS ENSUE has updated! “Where my people at?”
HijiNKS ENSUE has updated! “To Siri, With Love”
If you look through the archives of HijiNKS ENSUE, it’s pretty clear that the art style was and is still constantly evolving. I spent probably the first 3 years of the comic just trying to figure out how to draw the characters on model consistently. I settled on character models that I liked around 2010-2011 then totally threw them out the window when I started doing storylines in 2012. Then I threw those out again when I rebooted the comic to be all storylines in 2013.
Other than character models, the line width of the inking, the way I color, the backgrounds, the speech bubbles, the size and shapes of the panels… pretty much everything is constantly in a state of gradual flux.
Good advice: Make your comics and put them online, then make more then keep doing that without stopping for at least 2 or 3 years before you expect ANYTHING in terms of recognition or readership.
This accomplishes several things. 1) It keeps you from viewing your work as precious. Don’t obsess over one piece, draw and redraw, correct and perfect it all while never posting it. You get better by making MORE comics. Not by making the same comic over and over. 2) It gets you accustomed to the cycle of creativity. Have an idea, refine it, make it, put it up, repeat. 3) It gets you accustomed to taking and responding to feedback and criticism. The more work you post the more readers you’ll get and the more opinions you will start to receive directly or indirectly about your work.
More good advice: ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS be kind. Be kind online, be kind in person, be kind to your readers, be kind to your fellow artists, be kind to the world. This is important above all else because 1)Being an online persona means YOU are the product you are selling. If your product is a total dickbag, the only people who buy it will be total dickbag enthusiasts. 10 years down the road and you realize all of your readers are assholes and you’ve hand picked them because of how you acted. 2) Your peers talk about you when you aren’t around. They decide who to work with on collaborations, who to bring in on new opportunities and who share hotels/booths/wonderful experiences with at conventions. Word will get around SO VERY FAST if you are not a nice person and you will start to wonder why fun projects keep passing you by. 3) Can anyone honestly come up with a reason to NOT always be kind? When looking for a default behavior, you can’t do much better than this.
Even More good advice (lightning round): Don’t worry about merch. Worry about making good comics. Dont worry about getting more readers. Worry about making good comics. Don’t EVER compare your perceived success to that of your peers. You don’t know their situation, or how they came about what you think they have that you might want for yourself. Just worry about making good comics. Never envy your peers money, readers or success (sounds a lot like the last one right? That’s because it’s super important.) Instead, envy how hard they’ve worked and try to emulate that. Also, just worry about making good comics. Don’t try to find success by doing exactly what another artists has done. We all have different paths to success and you’ll do better finding your own rather than copying someone else (in art as well as in business). Also just worry about making good comics.
The worst piece of advice I ever got: Get an invitation to the cool kids table, i.e. Get in with this certain clique and you’ll be instantly welcomed into the secret world of webcomic success. This secret club, community, group, whatever you want to call it DOES NOT EXIST. I spent too many years waiting for artists I admired to take notice of me that I eventually started to obsess over making them like me. Spoilers, it never happened and I had nothing to show for all that worry and grief. I gave absolute strangers power over my mental well being that they didn’t even want and certainly didn’t deserve. Don’t worry about making “powerful” friends. You will make more friends in this industry by BEING a good friend first. Offer help, offer support, share your audience with artists whose work you admire. Be honest, be genuine and be kind. Repeat that 1000X in your head every day until it’s the only thing you even understand anymore.
By the way, the person who gave me that terrible advice was me.
Early in the life of HijiNKS ENSUE I was just sort of stumbling around in the dark in terms of what I was making and who I was making it for. I made some comics to make my friends laugh, I made other to make 1 person laugh, I made others to make just me laugh I made others to try and get attention from big websites (back then we called them “Blogs”) or to get on the front page of DIGG (a pre-Reddit version of Reddit… ask your parents). I always found I had more fun making the comics that were designed to make me or my friends laugh than I did making comics that might get some large influx of social traffic. Social media was different back then. A few DIGGS and some StumbleUponing could take a totally unknown comic up to 10’s of thousands of regular readers over night. Today 100,000 visitors from Reddit means nothing long term. Those readers are consuming and digesting 1000’s of pieces of content a day and they aren’t going to bookmark your site after seeing your comic rehosted on imgur without attribution. It took me years to understand how things were changing, but eventually I learned to completely ignore making comics that might get social traction and just keep making what I wanted to make; what made me laugh.
A harder lesson still was figuring out how to not make comics that ONLY made me laugh. There’s nothing wrong with making something just for personal enjoyment, but I was at times get so hyper specific with references that I was alienating even hardcore geeks. Basically anyone that did’t have my exact brain and experiences would find a large portion of my content unaccessible.
One of the major factors that contributed to me giving up on pop culture jokes and geek references as my main source of material was that I started to feel like I was just doing it for my readers. I felt obligated to comment on things that I wasn’t even that interested in because I knew that’s what people expected of me. I’d rather cut my audience in half making comics that I’m excited and enthusiastic about, rather than keep plugging away and art that I felt somehow pressured to make against my will.
The upside of this is the artist who is genuinely excited, knowledgable and inspired by their subject matter will always find an audience. Genuine enthusiasm and honesty in art will always last longer and reach farther than anything produced under duress or out of obligation.