Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Jeffrey Brown's 10 Rules

1. Think about your audience. But don't cater to them. You should keep in mind that you're making comics that someone else will read, so things should be clear and comprehensible, and not so esoteric that no one else will get it. That doesn't mean you should just try to make something with the idea that it's for a particular market or demographic.

2. Don't pay attention to reviews. Of course, it's impossible to completely ignore the world's response to your work. In fact, the whole point of putting work into the world is to get a response. When you inevitably read those reviews you're trying to avoid, at least try and get something from them - sometimes there's actually constructive criticism that can improve your work. Internet comments sections and Amazon reviews should be avoided at all costs, though.

3. Don't compare yourself and your work to others. Don't feel like you're a failure because you're 5 years older than such-and-such cartoonist was when they got their six digit book deal. Or because your work never comes close to being as good as that of your idol. There will always be someone better and some other work that will always be better than anything you ever make in your entire life. Chances are, those people are different from you, and the work you make is different, and none of that makes your work any less worthwhile.

4. Make work without ulterior motives. Make comics to express your ideas, not to do other stuff like getting revenge, impressing someone, win back an ex, etc. Except change the world, that's probably okay to try.

5. Be willing to compromise in your work. But never compromise your work. Learn when you can bend to an editor or publisher's wishes and when you should demand your work's integrity be maintained. Sometimes they'll make your work better, sometimes they'll only make it more marketable, sometimes they'll ruin it. Think big picture and long term with what you want from your comics.

6. Don't Settle. Don't give a half-hearted effort. Draw your crowd scenes, your feet, your complicated machinery. If your story requires a tedious ten pages of thing-you-don't-feel-like-drawing, find a way to do it instead of deciding that can really be done in just two pages. Unless it really can be done in two pages.

7. Enjoy it. Comics are hard work - and they should be - but it's work you should be enjoying. If you're not enjoying it (at some point in the process - either the act of writing and drawing, or holding the finished book, or whenever), then you're either drawing the wrong comics or you should reconsider if drawing comics is really what you want to be doing. If you're not enjoying it because you're not making any money from drawing it, then you really may need to think about doing something else, like banking.

8. Trust yourself. If you're relatively happy with the work you've made, then chances are, with 7 billion people in the world, there's thousands and thousands of other people who will also be happy with your work. You'll still need to get your work to those people. And there'll also be at least a couple billion people who actively hate what you've done, and several billion who will be absolutely apathetic toward it. Don't worry about all those people, just worry about those first thousand. Make the comics you want to make.

9. Don't be afraid to put your work out into the world. If no one sees it, what's the point? By all means, keep making work even if you're not going to let anyone see it, just don't be afraid of what people will think or say. Just making art is more than most people can take credit for, and putting it out into the world will put you in even smaller, better company. All that's left is to keep at it until you're making really good work.

10. Work! Work, work, work. Work all the time. Make lots of work. Do the work. If you're not actually working on it, you'll never actually make anything. That seems obvious, but there are plenty of people who talk about the ideas they have and never actually do anything with them. Most people probably think great ideas are rare, but actually great ideas are everywhere. Pretty much everyone in the world has one or two great ideas every year. What's rare is people who actually follow through and make those ideas a reality. You have to work.

You can view Jeffrey Brown's work at: www.jeffreybrowncomics.com