"Hello K-bo, I Have been aspiring to be a webcomic artist much like yourself for a long time. Viewing your artwork and your achievements inspire me to reach out for my dreams. I wasn't able to see you at Fan Expo this year so I wasn't able to ask you this in person. I feel like I'm at a point where I'm comfortable enough with my art and style to start a webcomic... but I have no idea where to start... Do you have any advice? Thank you!"
I wanted to share my answer with you guys since it might be relevant to your interests. I hope at least some of it is useful to you. Here goes...
"First off, that’s awesome and I’m honored to have inspired you in any way. You should be very proud of yourself for being ready and willing to start this journey.
Now this is a pretty broad question that’s a little difficult to answer as there are A LOT of ways to get started. Which one is right for you will depend on your situation, and there is no proven recipe for success. In my case, I was entirely self-taught and a lot of “getting started” for me was just throwing my work online wherever people would see it: conventions, livejournal, deviantArt, etc and just creating until people noticed. I often refer to this as the “Keep sending your troops running at the fortress wall until their bodies have piled up enough and you can climb over” method of artistic career pursuit. But plenty of folks also have success with more methodical, less masochistic approaches.
What I can say is there are a couple of universal truths no matter what course you choose to pursue…
1) If you update it, they will come. No matter the objective quality of your work, if you keep a regular and maintained schedule, you will build an audience. Now, it’s proven that the more you update, the faster you will build that audience. HOWEVER, if you choose an unrealistic schedule, you’ll end up burning out and going on massive hiatuses and you’ll be back to square one. *points to himself* Decide on a reasonable update schedule that fits your time and resources. Then build a backlog of work before you even post the first one (I always say that if you to get sick or take a vacation, your comic should still keep be able going in your absence and still have some backlog left by the time you’re drawing again.) I can tell you that the comics I did this with (Ensign Sue is good example) were a lot easier and less stressful than the ones that I did by the seat of my pants (Trigger Star, occasionally “I’m My Own Mascot.”) Get a grip on this early and you’ll thank yourself for it later on.
2) Draw all the time, whatever you can and whenever you can. You learn to draw by drawing. Do not be afraid to work outside your comfort zone and draw things you’re “bad” at. Pretty much everyone sucks when they first start but you’ll never get better if you don’t even try.
Also, learn and endeavor to master drawing basics like anatomy, form, composition, perspective, observation skills, etc. Style is not an excuse for shoddy fundamentals, so learn the rules before you break them. Never stop studying. Keep in mind that artistic prowess takes YEARS to develop and although talent helps, it is NOTHING without practice and hard work.
3) Don’t by shy about showing your work to as many people as possible and never tell yourself you’re “not ready” for one thing or another. Two of my personal favorite quotes on this subject:
“Do not wait: the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and work whatever tools you may have at your command and better tools will be found as you go along.” - Napoleon Hill
“Jump and build your parachute on the way down.” -Walt Disney
4) Be polite and gracious to your audience, both the supporters and the critics. This is easy with the former and tough as hell with the latter, I know. I would be deluding myself if I tried to convince you that critics are only trying to help you. While this may be true of some of your colleagues and friends, a good chunk of the people who criticize your work are doing so out of some kind of justified personal issue on their part (as much as they try to convince you or themselves otherwise.)
But here’s the thing…their motivations do not automatically make their feedback invalid. You can learn a lot from those criticisms, IF you’re honest with yourself on whether their critiques are fair and applicable to what you want to do and you’re emotionally mature enough to not take it personally. Because regardless of whether their opinions are fair or cruel, you NEVER look good if you’re seen being rude or indignant to your critics. And no matter the quality of your work, there will always be someone who won’t like it. Be prepared for it, don’t take it personally when it happens, learn from it if it’s useful to you, and just keep on creating.
I am personally grateful to anyone who thinks my work is worth their time and feedback, positive or negative. You’ll be a happier and more well-rounded person if you develop that gratitude in yourself.
5) Persistence is the key to victory. Be patient with yourself and understand that success never comes overnight…ESPECIALLY in self-starting creative fields. And when it does get hard, remember there are so many of us who currently are or have been where you are right now. You’re not alone and you’re only a failure if you stop trying.
To quote a wise lego “I know that sounds like a cat poster, but it’s true.”
Wow….that came out longer than I had intended. Oh well. I hope some of that is actually helpful to you. If you ever have any specific questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’ve been really bad at replying to folks in recent months because I was going through a lot of personal stuff and my schedule’s been insane, but I do try to get back to everyone who contacts me as best I can. Thank you again for the kind words and I’m super excited for you and your creative goals. Go forth and never stop drawing!"