Graphic Novels & Fear

Concept Art for the graphic adventure novel Jagsters

One of the hardest difficulties I’ve faced in making Jagsters is gathering the courage to put it out there. Jagsters is perhaps the first time that I’m putting my heart out there, on a scale that I’ve never done before, and that scares the hell out of me. Today I wanted to share some thoughts on graphic novels & fear, and a podcast and book that have been instrumental in keeping my sanity through the years. I hope they can be as much of a buoy to you as they were to me.

Dead Eyes

The podcast ‘Dead Eyes’ simultaneously made me laugh out loud (I was jogging, people were watching, yikes) and resonated on a truly deep level with me. If you haven’t heard it before I can highly recommend it. It’s a really funny series about a guy who tries to figure out why Tom Hanks fired him from a small role in Band of Brothers for having ‘Dead Eyes’. Funny as that logline sounds, it’s the most cathartic series I’ve heard in years. Somehow Connor Ratliff manages to perfectly capture all my inner fears, and then very smartly deconstructs them and lays them bare. Thanks @Connor for keeping my head above water, you may not know it but you’ve reassured me in ways you can not imagine.

Graphic Novels & Fear

Equally as important to me has been a small book called Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking. Particularly the part about facing your fears struck a chord with me. Here’s a quote:

“You have a choice (…) between giving your work your best shot and risking that it will not make you happy, or not giving it your best shot — and thereby guaranteeing that it will not make you happy.” ― David Bayles and Ted Orland

Or to say it with pop-culture: Do or do not, there is no try.

Graphic Novels & Fear: Do Or Do Not, There Is No Try

I’ve struggled (and still do) with pushing for perfection, and reading this passage in Art & Fear put a lot of that in perspective. You either do something, or you don’t. There is no in-between in which you’re half-doing, so just embrace the process, warts and all.

I’ve most definitely been guilty of bogging down my writing or painting process in an effort to perfect a passage or render a panel. It often resulted in dead words and overworked images that I then had to re-do. After a while I came to realize that working at that rate would make it impossible for me to finish a page or a chapter, let alone an entire book. In fact, it was realizing this and learning to let go that ultimately gave me momentum, and I truly believe that the best pages I’ve drawn in Jagsters, are the ones that I’ve turned around my hands the least. The key is to work broad to narrow for as long as you can, and then just let go.

If you’ve got any other recommendations, be sure to join the Discord and share the wealth!

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