I attended a reasonably large meeting yesterday, and since it was a diverse group of folks who, by and large, had never met one another, they started the meeting with introductions and an ice breaker. Each individual introduced themselves, provided a quick overview of their job, and then (for the ice breaker) inform everyone where they look to for inspiration. As the group consisted almost entirely of people working in the digital space, a lot of the responses were a variety of tech blogs/newsletters/podcasts. A number of people instead cited their kids whose innate sense of exploration (and free time!) allows them to spend more time finding interesting things online—I think maybe only one two people were themselves young enough to be digital natives. When it came to me, though, I cited webcomic creators.
As you can tell by this column, I’m obviously interested in webcomics in the first place, but part of what enables me to write about them on an ongoing, regular basis is that I try to keep up with not only a number of webcomics themselves, but also their creators. I follow a number of creators on various social media outlets and try to talk with them directly both online and in person. And that is constantly a source of inspiration for me.
Certainly, part of keeping up with these webcomikers is an effort to simply stay informed about developments in the industry. Technology trends, to be sure, but also business and genre ones as well. Who’s working on what, what methods are they using, what’s working and what isn’t, etc. Much of that informs this column and, indeed, a fair amount about how I think about comics as a whole.
But they’re inspiring too.
Think about someone starting a webcomic. For the most part, they just want to tell their story. They pour their blood, sweat, and tears into their work, laboring in whatever minimal free time they have (because they have some day job/s that they’re using to pay the bills) to craft their passion. They keep working their asses off in the hopes that it will one day earn them enough money to quit their “regular” job and focus on making comics.
And isn’t that what everyone dreams of? Being able to do something they really love and really have a passion for, and other people paying them to do exactly that? Yeah, doing webcomics, even after they’ve become successful (however you define “success”) is hard work; I don’t think any comic creator will tell you otherwise. But it’s something they love doing so much they’ll put in as much work as they have free time to allow. I think that’s admirable, and an approach to aspire to.
Sure, their comics can make me laugh or take me on an adventure, and that’s why I read the comics themselves. But to see the challenges the creators continually face and regularly overcome as well is inspiring all on its own.