Demon of the Underground

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Voting Drive Complete!

All right, dudes! Thanks to all your voting, Demon of the Underground is now at #148 on TopWebComics! This is awesome! It's about 50-70 spots above last month. I really appreciate all of you who read the comic, and all of you who voted!

DOTU is still quite a bit away from being in the top 100, but I've decided to keep that goal I mentioned as part of the November Voting Drive. If DOTU ends a month in the top 100, then I will post two pages a week throughout the following month instead of one.

In other news, I finished Nanomango today! So that means I've completed 30 pages in 30 days for Ludwig the Rock, my other pending comic. Exciting!

But all right, enough babbling. It's time for three of you to claim your prizes for voting all month! Just reply to this post, and make sure to include all 30 words from this month's voting incentives, in sequence. First person to post the correct words gets a card deck and signed print! Second and third people get a signed print!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How To Read a How To

As some of you may know, in early October I received my first short story contract. Since then, I've been in contact with many other writers and have had the opportunity to learn a lot from them. In a recent conversation with a more experienced author, she told me about her unpleasant experience reading a "how-to" guide to writing. The guide was written by another author whose work I enjoy, and although I knew he'd put out this how-to guide, I never felt inclined to read it. The conversation made me think about why I'd avoided his book, and why I actually tend to avoid most how-to's in general, both in writing and in art.

Would I read a tutorial called "How to use the curves tool in Photoshop" or "How to use an airbrush"? Absolutely! Do I read the Chicago Manual of Style and check out the style guides of any publisher I plan to do business with? Definitely. These are technical skills and guidelines that anyone can share, and I'm always interested in learning them.

But when it comes to creative endeavors--i.e. how to write a novel, how to paint a webcomic page, etc.--I believe that the words "how to" in the title of any book or tutorial should be replaced by "how I." I love checking out step-by-steps and process work of other artists; it's fascinating to see how different we all are, and how other artists' brains work. And sometimes I learn a thing or two that could make my own art better. But when "this is how I do it" turns into "this is how you should do it," there's the potential for trouble.

I'm speaking as someone who loves looking at unique and one-of-a-kind art, and someone who loves reading books that don't follow a formula. I get disheartened every time I see a clique of webcomic artists who share the same style and every time I read a book that I feel like I've already read.

In the field of illustration, there are many valid professional reasons for emulating someone else's style. But the beauty of webcomics, self-published comics, and most novels is that they represent the creative vision of their individual writers and artists.

Unlike the big comic book publishers that choose a story based on marketing directives and hire people with good technical skills to churn them out, webcomics and self-published works come from a more natural origin. They are individual works of art; therefore I believe they shouldn't look like they came out of a corporate cookie cutter.

So technically, the title of this blog should be "How I read a how-to." And the way I do it is I treat it as an autobiography. If there are elements of it that are inspiring, I give them a shot. But I don't follow them step-by-step. I want to draw like Bob, not like the lite version of someone who wrote a tutorial.