Storytime – Drawing Comics

I’ve been drawing for quite a long time. I sadly can’t say I’ve been drawing for most of my entire life, but it’s safe to say I’ve been drawing for 1/3rd if not more of it.

As described in my previous story about deviantART, my art skills didn’t really take off until I had access to the platform. A couple of years before that I had taken a short three-week special course at Walters State in a summer drawing class. That helped up my skills a whole bunch over my pre-teen drawings. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible, either.

I started to do figures more properly once I hit Walters State for real, in about 2006. I had gotten some manga/anime drawing book from Books a Million, and started to follow the body proportion things that were inside. My art took a definite slant towards anime. This further solidified as I started to draw fanart from anime such as Gundam Seed. I had gotten a whiff of some more realistic art and didn’t want to just be some anime weeb with art, so I intentionally tried to curb myself from the manga style and be more realistic. Almond eyes, more compact body proportions. This seemed to work for the most part.

When I had gotten my tablet in Christmas of 2009, I was starting to experiment with a few art things that coming spring. Granted it was limited because of the increasing pressure from parents to do a job, but I had drawn out a few scrap WIP things. I even did a stop-motion animation with a popular doujin music featuring my cousin dancing and some fan characters. So sequential art was something that I had at least poked at.

Then I went to ETSU and quit drawing entirely. This was mostly to some personal self-esteem issues, and me focusing more on coding/development work than an artist.

Between that period, I had seen some people such as Epantiras, xkcd and a few others with a frequenting comic strip. I had the urge to do that myself, and wanted to show stories in an art form. But I always had kept putting it off. I never quite felt ready to try my hand at it.

I had some practice with comic art before my adoption of digital art, however.

Back before said Walters State art classes, I was heavily involved in a game called Space Empires III. So was my brother. We would draw our empire doing stuff, making heroes and going to save the galaxy in Star Wars-esque manner. I know we were three episodes in by 2004, and had two incomplete episodes by 2006. By then we had stopped the series completely.

I also had a brief stint at work that got me a bit of notoriety. I was hooked on Gunstar Heroes at the time, and I had envisioned three coworkers and I as a group of gun-toting heroes righting wrongs. I would often take unruly customers and re-imagine them as evil overlords or monsters, with us defeating them in a spectacular manner. I would draw them on the backs of cash request slips, and often take home my “episode” in a pile of a dozen pieces. My last week of work came to a halt when I got an official work warning about drawing them, but I was already out the door, so to speak.

Suffice to say I had some practice, along with seeing how some storytelling was done in my ever-growing collection of Teen Titans comics.

Despite with all that background, I had a terrible commitment problem at the time. I actually kind of do, though I now at least always get something done, even though it make take weeks or months to do so. But I had a very short attention span, especially when it seems that I would start something, I was getting sabotaged by family happenings that I would have to abandon any endeavor that I started.

Two series I tried to start suffered this fate. One was a fantasy comic based on Jennifer and an alternate me living together in an apartment. The other was a guy with a flight school and a bunch of previous-generation fighter jets. I only got one page of each done, the latter not even getting colored completely.

A WIP of me trying to do my first full-page comic “Grumman’s Kids” in 2010.

 

I never forgot about them, though. Nothing came of the Jennifer one. The flight school comic stayed in my head, although it eventually did morph and merge into the idea that started Dawnstar. As time went on, they served as reminders to me of what I could do. That somewhere, I was capable of telling a story, even though the art may be doodles.

Move back to 2016. Sometime later that year, I started doing things like this. My drawing style had regressed to my style from 2008 and was long overdue to grow; these one-off comics were good practice. Now that I had Photoshop and even a Cintiq tablet at my disposal, it was a lot easier for me to apply myself to cartooning and comics.

As time went on I started getting more comfortable with working in the medium, and was doing progressively better. I heavily criticized myself with each piece I did, but I did notice a gradual improvement on certain pieces. I won two art contests with my doodles. Two of my #drawthisinyourstyle Twitter cartoons even got retweeted to good success.

Finally just as summer arrived in 2018, I started my AntiMLM comic over on Reddit. When I saw the feedback I had received,  I had a feeling I actually had made some headway. I was fired up about what I was going to depict, and was even more excited to share it with the world. I knew I was on the right track and continue to practice and learn what I can even more about that area.

Title page for Todd Squad Delta, my AntiMLM comic on Reddit.

So this is where I am today. Still growing, doing comics again. Picking up where I left off in 2010. I suppose its better late than never, considering what I had on hand now from all those years. The tools and resources are a big help after all; but even better is the practice and hours you log to craft your drawing skill.

To compound on that, the Jennifer comic is something I do want to start even up to this day. After my experience with people online, ETSU and my early college life, I believe I now have the background and will to take a stab at it again.

We’ll see what’s in store for the rest of 2018.

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