Inspiration from the Trenches

| February 7, 2011 | 2 Comments

Let’s face it, making comics isn’t easy.

First, there’s the CREATIVE challenge of it.   It’s you versus the blank page in a battle to create something worth reading.   Whether you believe there are muses to be summoned or it’s simply a matter of discipline and focus, it’s damn hard to wrangle the myriad ideas in your head into a coherent work of sequential storytelling.   Everyone who reads comics has had an idea or two (hundred) about what would make a good comic.   But only a small percentage will ever see those stories actually come to life, because

There’s the TECHNICAL challenge of it.   Writing comics isn’t easy.   While the format is more forgiving than screenwriting, the challenge is more daunting.   Most people don’t think in a series of sequential, static images that when juxtaposed together with words in a particular order create a story.   No, it’s something that needs to be learned.   If you’re reading The Proving Grounds here on ComixTribe (and of course you are) it should be obvious how many pitfalls there are for comic writers to fall into.   Still, writing comics is child’s play compared to the technical challenge of drawing them. There is so much one needs to master to be a competent comic artist: anatomy, perspective, lighting, blocking, acting the list goes on and on.   Additionally, inking, coloring, and even lettering are crafts that one could literally spend a lifetime trying to master.   And let’s not also forget

All the OTHER challenges:  Time.   Stress.   Financial.   Making comics is a time and labor intensive endeavor.   If you’re collaborating with others to bring something to life, then like any other relationship, there are going to be disagreements and disappoints along the way.   Time spent making comics takes precious time away from your family and friends, and sometimes that’s hard for them to understand.   And making comics at a high level can also be very expensive.   Conventions, print runs, marketing campaigns, page rates for talent these things all add up.

So no.   Making comics isn’t easy.

So, how does anyone do it?   How I do it?   What keeps me going?

For me, part of it is certainly DNA.   I’m a storyteller.   It’s in my bones.   Comics is my preferred medium. I’ve always had a certain capacity for putting my head down and doing the work.   Still, I don’t know if even that would be enough to keep me going in the face of all the challenges required to make it in comics.   But you know what inspires me to keep going?

You guys.

I’m inspired by all of the other hardworking creators out there trying to do the damn thing.   These are the guys who are down in the trenches, putting in the WORK to bring their dreams to life.  Some of them are further along in their comics careers than I am, and some are a little behind, but all share a passion and a drive and a work ethic that’s going to get them where they want to go, I have no doubt.

And it’s damn inspiring.

Who are these guys and gals in the trenches?   There’s a lot more out there than you think.

They are guys like Tommy Patterson, who does the Draw Over! column here at ComixTribe.   Tommy has been working diligently for years to improve his craft, focused on the dream of being able to draw comics full-time.   He’s been putting in the work to learn his craft, and anyone familiar with his stuff would say, Yeah, this guy should be on a monthly.   But it’s hard out there.   There are a lot less jobs than there are artists looking for them.   Still, Tommy’s managed to stay focused.   He’s put in the work.   He’s done tryouts and test pages.   And it’s paid off.   Tommy was just announced as the penciler of the upcoming Dynamite comic adaptation of George R. R. Martin‘s A Song of Fire and Ice books.   This is a two-year contract for a book that plans to go monthly, meaning Tommy will be living his dream of getting to draw comics full-time.   How cool is that!

And there are plenty of others Writers, artists, webcartoonists.   In fact, you don’t have to look very far to find inspiring stories or people in this industry you can learn from.   It’s with this in mind that we’re going to be running a new feature here on ComixTribe, called Trenches.   Trenches will be a series of articles penned by other hardworking creators who are out there making things happen.   It will be a forum for them to share advice, inspiration, triumphs, setbacks, or just generally riff on comics.   I’ll have my notebook handy and you should, too.

Trenches will kick off this Thursday with a column by writer Mark Bertolini (BreakNeck) about the trials and tribulation of getting his first comic project off the ground.

Making comics isn’t easy.   But it can be done.   ComixTribe is a place for the can doers.   I’m glad you’re here.

NEXT: Diversity is Great…But What About MY Super Hero Book?

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Category: Comix Counsel

About the Author ()

Tyler James is a comics creator, game designer, educator, and publisher residing in Newburyport, MA. He is the writer and co-creator of THE RED TEN, a superhero murder mystery, EPIC, a superteen action comedy, and TEARS of the DRAGON, a swords and sorcery fantasy. Tyler is the publisher and co-creator of ComixTribe, which is both a new imprint of quality creator owned titles, and an online community where creators help creators make better comics. Follow him on Twitter @tylerjamescomics, or send him an email at

Comments (2)

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  1. John Lees says:

    Can’t wait for Mark Bertolini’s column on Thursday. “Breakneck” has been great so far, and it’ll be interesting to hear (and hopefully learn a little) from the guy who wrote it, and how he got it done.

  2. Can’t wait. I totally agreed making comic isn’t easy.

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