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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Contradictory Advice

When the advice seems to be contradictory, such as "finish what you start" and "don't get married to an idea", you have every right to wonder if there isn't some other rule-of-thumb that needs to be applied to tiebreak the situation. What I think these seemingly conflicting pieces of advice, both of which you'll find on this blog, mean is "finish working on whatever you are working on at the moment". In other words if you feel you are running out of steam after half a page of a comic idea, try to stretch it to one full page, that's finishing what you started, and it can always go in your portfolio. It is never a waste of time, at the very least the simple exercise of drawing always improves your drawing skills. And if you have sketched up a character and written a little note beside it, try to work it up to a synopsis; I mean who knows, it may be that after that exercise it develops legs again.

As for "not getting married the an idea", that really is just a warning about the nature of the business. You are, after all, in the ideas business, and you need to keep churning out new ideas. Unless the project you are working on is a real labour of love that you will continue to produce for yourself even after picking up a paying gig; put it away in a drawer. Again, you just never know, it might be that 6 months down the line you'll open the drawer, look at that project and it'll look good to you all over again.

So, what about putting these ideas into practise? Well, hat's a wee bit more difficult, especially when you can easily imagine yourself completing everything easily and on time. Well, you have to take stock, I'm afraid, you just have to, there is no avoiding it, even if it means admitting that you are only human. It is also a very valuable exercise because, in case you haven't noticed it is happening, you will soon find out if you have become an obsessive, slightly manic, gibbering wreck; which is, by the way, what you will become if you continue to try to work on everything all at the same time.

One project I have in the drawer at the moment is Mandrake Falls, which I hope that one day Dwight McPherson and I might finish together, along with a colourist (I hope). The plot, Dwight's, is still strong, the title is great, and the thing looks good, think (see below); but it is an idea, I think, that will profit from being in the drawer for maybe 3 months - which, coincidentally, is exactly the size of my backlog; although that may even be an underestimate.




Extracted from Mandrake Falls, copyright Dwight McPherson and Rod McKie, 2011.

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