So far this year, still working full time, I have finished more comics pages than any other time in my life. I also feel I have kind of reached a new level with all this comics business both artistically and professionally.
I have to credit my professional work as a visual effects artist for this – quite the opposite frame of mind I hear so many other independent comics professionals talk about their jobs.
The problem is not just the mindset but the structure and culture of work as we know it in comics. The conventional thinking is that if you have made the transition to full time comics professional and have left your other less glamorous career behind you – THAT makes you a success.
I think too many people have this backwards. But I am lucky enough to have a professional daytime job that SOME people think is kind of glamourous. Working in visual effects, right outside the Warner Bros. and Universal Studio gates (literally – I can see both from my office window) is a bit reality altering. In Los Angeles, people I know in the indie comics scene also work in pretty “glamorous”industries – at least to other nerd culture pop culture fans.
Two of my friends work closely with toy companies, others work for other pre/post/and daytime television and film production, still others work as PA’s/accountants/runners and other support for productions around the city. But every last one of them has made the confession that they want to make that WHOLE living with comics.
Plenty of people write about this, but I found a rhythm that works for me and seems to be sustaining me for the moment and AT the moment when I have become the most productive. But most of this newly found productivity doesn’t just come from some rah-rah Gary Vaynerchuk, no complaining Jocko Willink pep talk.
Working all day on one thing compresses the time I have to work at home every night on my own projects. I have restructured how I eat dinner – a veggie smoothie and some lean protein, usually chicken breast – just to maximize the amount of time I spend eating before getting to work on my book. I try to select any media before I start working so I don’t waste time browsing for something to watch while I work.
Even the usually 1-2 hour drive home is spent preparing mentally for working on pages – I run through the page I am working on mentally, “priming” as some call it before I get home and start.
And I honestly have to credit some of the work I do during the day with helping organize my work at home – it comes in a familiar 3 part process much like comics. Visual effects can often be compressed into three overall stages – Animation, Rendering, and Compositing (plenty of people will argue about this being TOO simple, but on most shows I work on these are the easiest broad strokes in the process to write about).
Comics feels almost as compartmentalized – Writing, Art, and Production. I found a relationship in process between the two that makes them feel more seemless in my head – so it doesn’t feel like the hard snap of jumping into cold water when I do one or the other.
Some productivity experts claim that multi tasking degrades work quality because the work and time lost switching between processes takes time and energy. I think that’s partially true, and the best way to not let that happen is to organize things in more similar ways.
Well, that’s the most long winded way to explain why I haven’t been blogging and tweeting – things which I consider work “related” and not really my true work. So thanks for sticking around out there if you have read all this. I promise I always do my best work when things kind of go silent for long periods!