Monday, October 28, 2013

John Allison's 10 Rules

1. Get good, then get fast, then get good and fast. For every stride you make, you'll introduce a load of mistakes. I'd gain in one area, but find another one slipped a bit. I'd begin to improve at inking, but start making heads taller and taller, then have to rein that in. Or my anatomy would get better, but as it did, I'd start drawing with a line that was too thin or too fat. Don't worry about it. Take a moment to step back and look objectively at what you're doing every once in a while.

2. If you're going to read the good reviews, you have to read the bad reviews. You probably shouldn't read any of your reviews, and you certainly shouldn't make decisions based on what strangers say about your work, but the faults people see in your work, no matter how they sting, probably have a root somewhere.

3. Vary your diet. Comics made by people who only read comics read like comics made by people who only read comics.

4. There's no such thing as perfection. You can't make a page perfect. Just get it done. Move on. 95% done is good enough 99% of the time.

5. Allow yourself to be bored. There are a million ways to distract yourself today. Turn your phone off when you go out, give yourself time to let your mind wander. That's when a lot of the best work gets done. Computer games aren't productive. Checking Twitter/email/Tumblr every three minutes to see if anything has happened isn't productive. It's counter-productive. You're wasting your limited lifespan. 

6. The good stuff is what comes when the bad stuff is out of the way. If you feel like you're in a rut, but you have to keep going, have faith that good work will come again. In the meantime, challenge yourself with the uninspiring material, make it more than it currently is. And remember that most people won't notice the difference. Something that feels flat and tired to you might be someone's favorite comic you ever did.

7. Stay healthy. Making comics is hard. Treat yourself like an athlete! If the work you do with a five-alarm hangover is better than the work you do well rested, you're an incredibly singular specimen.

8. People want to see a little of themselves reflected back at them in a story. You should make work for yourself first and foremost, but remember that you don't want to be the only person who wants to read it.

9. The devil is in the detail. Don't go for the easy joke, the stereotype, the rote rendition. They've all been done. And you'll do all of them at first. But as best you can, go for something new. You'll be rewarded for it.

10. Make a place that readers want to visit. The best comics creators make settings you want to crawl inside and characters you want to know. Do whatever you can to make that happen. Use everything you can from your life, from the things you enjoy, to build a place that readers want to be.


You can view John Allison's work atwww.scarygoround.com

3 comments:

  1. These rules make a lot of sense for many types of creative work, actually, not just comics.I write songs, and I'm trying to write children's books, and most of what you say turns out to be very good avice for me, too.

    I do with other comic writers would follow your rules, though. There's so much second rate stuff out there, with tired, cliched storylines and no imagination.

    ReplyDelete