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sometimes i look back on the first few years that i was drawing comics and get jealous of that alex.  i was always sure back then that i could be drawing more than i was.  that feeling hasn’t gone away, certainly not since my productivity (i’m talking number of pages here–what else?) has dropped.

figuring out the sweet spot for how much time i should be drawing in a day is one of the central struggles in my life.  i absolutely cannot win.  if i’m drawing like a motherfucker, just really crankin’ for 7-8+ hours in a day (i have a real job, too), so much other stuff is being neglected that i feel guilty.  and anyway, that i just can’t sustain that pace.  but if i’m too distracted, either by letting myself getting involved with other pleasures and procrastination or by just having too many responsibilities that trump drawing–my drawing suffers and i feel guilty.

i always wanna draw 40 hours a week.  and i’ll go a month drawing almost 40 hours a week, but then then i’l have a six weeks where i’m lucky if i can crack 25-30.  never ’cause i didn’t wanna draw, but things come up.

they definitely used to come up back in the day, too. i just ignored them.  in ’04-’06 when i was doing my first two books and then the first POISON book, i just didn’t have any interest in doing much besides comics.  i didn’t mind having fun or mingling with friends, but i drew instead.  i didn’t mind spending time with co-workers or taking a day out of town with sorren.  but i drew instead.  always.

i hit my peak with my this obsession at the beginning of 2007.  i was finishing up the first part of POISON THE CURE part 1.  on new year’s day, i was twelve pages away from finishing the book.  jad i had a show to leave for on march 1, and the show–staple in austin, texas–was the target for releasing the book.  i knew that if i didn’t give the book over to our printer at least a month or so in advance, we’d be cutting it really close.  i gave myself until the 18th of january to finish and gave myself until feb. 1 to scan everything.  it seems absolutely insane to me now.  i’d never cut it that close or expect so much from myself.  crazy.

i’d been averaging about six or seven pages a month throughout the book and suddenly i had to crank out 12 pages in 18 days.  what i really remember is that it hurt like hell.  i was pulling 8-, 10-, 12- and 16-hour work days.  i’d never done it before and i haven’t done it since (never again).  wasn’t eating well, wasn’t sleeping enough, wasn’t happy, and was barely able to spend any meaningful time at all with sorren (as this point we both had jobs with opposite schedules).  i was working on sheer willpower.  but i was also really enjoying the work.  nothing feels better when it comes to your story than that kind of immersion in it.  when you can work at a pace where you can feel it happening and you’re excited to get to the next moment, it’s absolutely addictive.  they’re the best 12 pages of the book in this case, too.  but that push was nuts and again, it hurt like hell.

that kinda work isn’t tenable for me–not then and certainly not now.  maybe once a month i’ll put in a 9+ hour day, if factors combine for it.  but for the most part, i don’t have that stamina or obsession anymore.  comics is no longer the only interest in my life (though it is still the most serious).  i no longer put more emphasis on how much i get done than on how much i like what i finish.  i spend more time at my real job now. i treat myself better with more sleep and exercise.  hell, i’m just a different person now–a person with slightly different priorities.  i’ll always start my day with comics, and i’ll always get my comics done and work hard on ’em ’til they look and read right.  but i don’t get paid to make my comics, so i wanna enjoy making them.  and i wanna enjoy and learn about other things, too.

so i might look back on the old alex and his rage-a-thons and get a little wistful, but there’s no way i’d still be making comics if i’d tried to keep a pace like that up.  i woulda burned out and run out of ideas, inspiration and vim.  it’s better this way.

www.newradiocomics.com

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