Making comics

These last few months, I’ve been struggling to draw; every idea seems dumb and my hand has stalwartly refused to move good. Austin Kleon said once that problems of output are usually problems of input, so in a rare storm of good sense, I decided to read more comics.

Lynda Barry’s “Making Comics” came out this year, and it’s been sitting on my shelf. I read it cover-to-cover in a few days, and marked every exercise and prompt with a sticky flag. I’ve been keeping a version of Barry’s “compbook diary” and trying to complete a few other exercises each week. It’s been incredibly refreshing—since I started I’ve actually wanted to draw again!

Here are some drawings and diary images from this month that have made me feel like maybe I can still make comics:

Practice practice practice

Practice is one of the hardest things for me to make time for consistently as an illustrator. Whenever I sit down to practice, I end up feeling like I need to end with a finished piece, or the time will have been “wasted.” This gives a lot of anxiety about starting at all! I have to really deliberately schedule practice with the understanding that the point is to have a lot of “unfinished” work.

Of all the types of exercises I use, regular figure drawing improves my work in general the most. This month I’ve been dedicating 10-30 minutes a day to drawing figures, and it’s been really helpful!

If you’re looking for someplace to practice too, a few good sites for timed figure drawing practice are SenshiStock Sketch and Sketch Daily, which even has a 30-minute class mode. Practice on, y’all.