Comics Illustration Process

Black, White and Shades of Grey

You know what they say – you always have something for that first love. For me, it’s making comics.

I’ll spare you the long story, but I made a webcomic and I ended it in 2014. It was fun, for the most part. But at the time, I was going through a lot and the daily grind wasn’t something I could commit to. I also had very limited traction on it (primarily because I didn’t promote it well and other miscues) and it really sucked the life out of the project. So I stopped everything that was comic related (except Bison Bay, which kept me tethered to the medium, thankfully!). I quit the Webcomic Alliance podcast and writing articles to the website. I quit making personal comics and focused more on one-off illustrations as a way to build my portfolio, expand my creativity and find a style.

It all worked. Along the way I experimented with physical media (sculpting, painting, etc) and kinda got my artistic groove back. And then I happened upon an old notebook where I scratched out story ideas, and I reminisced for awhile. All the plans I had, the stories I wanted to tell. Everything was brought back to the forefront of the memory bank. But, I quickly put it away because I had more important work to do. I needed to find a purpose in my creations. Was I going to go forth and be an artist, a YouTuber, a crazy mash between the two genres? An artist who promoted via social media? And then all of a sudden I got stuck.

It was this weird crisis of conscience. I didn’t know what I was. Am I an illustrator? Yes. Do I make YouTube videos and want to have a successful channel? Yes. Do I make comics? Yes. Do I want to be a self-sufficient artist? Yes.

But I had no direction. I  did when I created comics – but I couldn’t find the balance between day-job and passion project. Now I’m struggling to find a balance, dealing with fatherhood, husbandry, responsibilities at work and home, and staying committed to my craft. So I simplified things. I thought that the studio would inspire me to be creative – and it does! But I lack focus.

So I took a timeout from everything. No schedule. No drawing, videos, gaming, nothing. I vegged. I watched Stranger Things 2 and The Punisher. I read books. I made crafts with my daughter and prepped for Christmas.

Then I went back into the studio and grabbed a notebook in order to write down something and I came across some more scribbles for a comic idea.

It spoke to me. The beckoning from beyond. And then, clarity.

All of these things I’ve been doing. The artistic exploration – the videos, the illustrations, the social media building. It was all a way for me to develop my skills. It was keeping my mind sharp, despite the appearance of the lack of focus. I love comics and I love making comics (as you all know) so it was just a matter of coming back home and renewing that passion.

Now I have to figure out WHAT I’m going to work on.

When I stopped creating El Cuervo, I still had a whole bunch of stories to tell, but I feel like that moment has passed. I do have a new concept that is more of a period piece, and won’t be anything too thought provoking – think of an action movie and how brainless it can be – and that is sort of what I’m planning for The Fix. It’s my love letter to 80s noir.

As it stands right now, I’m pretty sure I’m leaning to the new project. I may surprise everyone further down the line and revamp El Cuervo in some form. But that may just be done in secret.

I’ll still be doing one-off illustrations and videos and stuff as a way to flex my creativity, but I’ve found a focus for my skills and I intend on promoting the crap out of it when its ready.