I’ve been struggling for a long time to enjoy making cartoons. I’ve mentioned before that when I started making comics it was just something I was doing to deal with my depression and anxiety. The pills didn’t work, they just made me not care about anything (and made me gain like25kgs). So I tried writing and drawing and eventually started making comics. It was the only thing that could lift my mood.
Then something changed. I didn’t feel like making cartoons anymore. I eventually figured out what it was. Money. Money killed my love for cartooning. Some dudes in California found my cartoons and paid me a big chunk of money to write scripts and create characters for them. I got to work with some awesome animators and some amazing voice actors. They told me that what I was being paid was about standard for what scripts and stuff go for in California… I wasn’t in California, I was in South Africa, so it was a ton of South African money 😅 Anyway, I bought a cool car and some fancy animation software and a really fancy Wacom. All this shit I didn’t really need. I’ve never actually used the animation software and I still do all my cartoons on the iPad. Anyway, after all that, I felt like it wasn’t worth drawing cartoons unless I got paid for it. Making cartoons for free felt like effort. My social media following was also growing and every week I’d upset some random stranger. I was still making cartoons, but I would worry too much about what people thought about them. Everyone had to enjoy them. I stopped making the cartoons that I wanted to make and tried to keep everyone happy, which is friggen impossible. Anyway, then came The Walking Dead who asked me to make some cartoons to promote an update of one of their games. I then started getting more offers to make comics for different mobile games. Now the walking dead I was cool with because I can have fun with zombies, but the others were card games and candy crush kinda stuff. It was so boring. But now I was stuck with either making comics I hated for money, or ones I loved for free, while feeling like drawing for free would be a waste of my time. Time is money. Money Money Money!
The less cartoons I drew, the more depressed I felt. But should I really spend this much time drawing cartoons for free? Turns out, yes. I enjoy it more than anything else in the world, and not doing it makes my depression appear quicker than my dad when he hears the word “beer”.
Even though I was embarrassingly bad at it when I started, it was the only thing that made me happy. I know I still have a long way to go, I know there’s still a lot more to learn, but I won’t do it if it’s not fun.
I have over 200 rough sketches of cartoons that I never got around to making. I never used to care about what people thought, I’d just make whatever because it didn’t matter, I was just having some fun and taking my mind off of the sad memories in my head. Now looking at these rough sketches I worry about who will get upset, who won’t get the reference, will I be able to draw it properly. But I need to learn to not care again, I need to get back to making what I want just for the fun. My webcomics aren’t for social media or money, they are for me, because I need them in my life. I just want to make the cartoons I’d like to see.
This brings me to this cartoon. It’s one of my earliest ideas that I never drew because I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off and also I didn’t know if enough people would get the reference. But I’d like to see this comic. So this weekend I sat down and drew a comic for me for the first time in about a year.
I love it. I loved the original sketch idea and I like how it turned out. I’ll add the original sketch at the bottom of the page. Some people like seeing the rough versions, and I faffed around for way too long with this one, but it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. And if people don’t like it or don’t get the reference. Oh well, it’s not for them. And also, I figure drawing these comics for no money isn’t really that bad if you consider what I’d have to spend on therapy and medication. To me, the experience of making these comics is priceless.
I’ll still be selling single panel cartoons, mainly because it’s a lot quicker and there’s a way bigger market for them. And a few of the places I’m allowed to send them my rough sketches before I draw the finished and they tell me which ones they want to buy and I’ll draw them quick. I mainly do single panels as practice. It forces me to draw things I wouldn’t normally draw. I still need to improve at drawing. I learnt how to make comics by making comics. I never took art lessons at school. The single panels I think have improved my webcomics and as a bonus I’ve been able to sell my practice cartoons to magazines. It’s also cool to not have thousands of people look at the cartoon. It’s a lot less stressful trying to please a few editors. I’ll happily make a 1 panel idea for people because it’s super quick, but for me to make a multi panel cartoon for someone, it will have to be and idea I really like or else my brain won’t let me do it. It’s pretty much 4 – 6 times the drawing and magazines like Viz pay about 5 times less. So yeah, nope.