A cartoonist pal and fellow webcomicker Skar of the webcomic Mojo drew me this awesome drawing and actually mailed it to me. It was super nice of him and I really appreciate it.
Pea Green Coffee Cup is not only my first webcomic but my first complete comic experience. I have drawn my whole life with no direction or means to an end outside of compulsive doodling. I’m very lucky to have a wife as supportive as Johanna. While some people can propel themselves through art and life without the push of others, I am not like that. Like many others, I am sort of broken in that way and require others to help me move forward. I wouldn’t be working as hard as I currently am without the support and encouragement of my wife and closest friends Kellie and her wife Cathy. I was challenged to do a project and see it through to an end. Through the last year I feel like I have grown in leaps and bounds in my understanding of comics and the comic world. I had been told throughout my whole life that comics, cartoons and drawing were waste of time. Working on this webcomic and other projects has opened up a whole new understanding of art for me. It has filled my life with a whole new cast of faces I’d have never met without this comic and changed the direction and focus of my entire life. For that and many other things I am forever grateful. Here are just a few things that I’ve learned in my first year of webcomicing.
NEGATIVITY & PERSERVERANCE
It goes without saying that anytime you do anything creative and let it loose into the ether you put yourself at risk of negative feedback or simply not being accepted. Even the greatest works of art, if subjected to an internet comment forum, would receive some level of angry commentary from somebody somewhere in the world. That’s just the way it is. Negativity can come from people who don’t understand, who don’t care or people who do care, but are dealing with their own demons or frustrations and have decided to take it out on you. Sadly, negativity is part of art. But you can’t lose sight of the art.
Comics, especially when done well, can reach into the expanse of shared experience and pull together a glowing intangible fragment of something I can only describe as the feeling that, “you’re not alone.” It serves as a vehicle to connect two or many to an idea that can be a roller coaster of laughter, crying or any range of emotion. This connection can be fleeting but meaningful. It can also last a lifetime. So, for whatever reason one decides to create comics or any art, you’re deciding to become a part of this connection. Maybe you just want to make somebody laugh. You will take a few dings along the way but the connection you can share is beyond a lifetime.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF MISTAKES
I was at a comic convention watching Stuart Sayger draw fantastically. He had one of those massive markers and he’d swipe it fervently across the board. Then he’d lick his blackened ink soaked index finger and pull form and depth out of the solid black line with seeming perfection. I asked him how he decided to do that and how he’d learned to place line and solid black spots. He said, “you can’t be afraid of messing up the drawing.” Not every idea or drawing you make is going to be gold. Sometimes you have to dig through a lot of mud to get to gold.
TREAT OTHER PEOPLE WELL
Play nice! When other people succeed it does not mean you have failed. I spent a week deeply depressed because I enjoyed “KoKo Be Good” by Jen Wang. In a fury of looking up all her work I found out that she is younger than me… I sheepishly confessed this to my friend Kellie in one of many face-palm driven conversations she has had with me. Occasionally that would happen. I’d get angry because someone put out a graphic novel, or worse, they drew better than me. Art is not a competition. It’s a community. We’re bound together by the love of this thing called, “comic art” that has a legacy dating back to cave drawings. I’ve matured over the last year by going to conventions and seeing the faces behind the work of all ages. We have to stand side by side with each other and offer support and love, even if it’s simply a kind email or an adoring comment. Drawing comics is a lonely business, but you’re never totally alone.
(characters: Josh Bauman, and Captain Kittenface)
HANG IN THERE
I’ve confessed in conversation with a cartoonist friend that sometimes I get so angry at myself for poor writing or not being better than I am that I have been almost a click away from setting a digital fire and deleting every comic I’ve ever drawn. Some of the best things I have done are getting to know other cartoonists, asking questions and being open about my process and hang ups. It’s through the support of others that I have decided to keep moving forward. I’ve learned to accept the past as the past and keep the pen moving on the bristol board.
Part of the reason Pea Green began was as a challenge to see something through. I have drawn my whole life but never completed a project. I’d start one thing and get excited about something else and leave the previous for dead. A year of working on a webcomic has changed that pattern. I may not draw this webcomic for the rest of my life, but by willikers I’m going to at least see it through to an end.
One my favorite webcomics to read, “Invisible Hair Suit” by Edgar McHerly had a guest comic contest. I submitted to it and got honorable mention! He made a part 1 to an unfinished comic. The contest was to fill in the rest. You can see mine as well as the others and the winner’s submissions on his website by clicking the image below. Mine is toward the bottom of the page.