On Learning Not To Suck (a.k.a. Progression)

Screen Shot 2018-05-22 at 3.39.37 PMI blogged about this once already, after my initial fundraising for Leaves in 2016. But, I thought you deserved an update. (Plus, I have a secret to tell you. But we’ll get to that later.)

Let’s recap, shall we?

First, I tried to fund an over-sized project. I wanted to create a 6 issue comic book arc, with full 24 page comics my first time out. Because yikes.


On top of that, the scripts for Leaves weren’t up to snuff. My thinking was, “I’ll redraft as I go!” But actually it was more like, “I’m too lazy to fix my story right now.” And it showed. If you don’t start with something polished and compelling, the odds of starting at all aren’t super great. Also, quality takes time. I wasn’t giving myself enough of that.

BUT. I still walked away with enough money to create concept storyboards for Issue #1.

They looked like this:

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(The sound designer we worked with even invented an amazing new tool during the process! It’s called the Bozavox and it’s pretty awesome.)

Next, I created Spaceship Librarian. It was meant to be a second swing with the same team. A way for us to learn how the heck to make comics so we could u-turn, revisit Leaves, and do the story justice.

I still love it. But neither myself nor the artist had ever done a real comic before. So everything we created was the wrong file size. Whoops.

On the 2nd try, our efforts looked like this:

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My artist and letterer are still working with me on new pages. We’re going to complete the story, weird sizing and all. Because finishing things is important. Even if they’re imperfect.

During Spaceship Librarian, I proved to myself that I had halfway decent ideas and the ability to follow through. I met a lot of cool, new people. Martin Dunn played a huge role in validating my creativity and encouraging me to keep going. He also introduced me to my letterer, Justin Birch.

Next, I needed to work harder to learn what the heck I was doing process-wise. So I went smaller. Much, much smaller.

I started writing two-page scripts. If you can tell a good story in 2 pages, maybe more people will trust you with 24. I learned this from Stephanie Cannon, who writes some pretty astounding shorts and is on her way to some incredible accomplishments.

We met on Twitter, of all places, and she introduced me to a new artist, Javi Laparra.

Together, we made my first two pager, Author. 

Here’s a snippet:

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Spoiler Alert: She is not, in fact, a super spy. She only thinks she is. Hilarity and empowerment ensues.

Work on my second short comic is currently underway and it’s my favorite thing I’ve ever written. Take a look at one panel from the story:

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Visually, I think you can see, I’m making progress. Closing that famous gap between my vision and the actual end product. I’m still not where I want to be yet, but I’m miles from where I began back in 2016.

If you’re reading this, thank you. Consider checking out some of my other work here and supporting me here. You can follow me, even if you can’t donate or pay. I give lots of stuff away for free. This month, I’m sharing an essay-in-progress titled, Chasing the Magical Man. (It’s very relevant to Leaves.)

Now, let’s talk about that secret.

If you can create consistently for the people who show up for you time and again, no matter the format you choose, or the failures you experience…those are the people you should honor with your work. Always.

I give things away for free on Patreon each month, because an audience member is worth more to me than a dollar. Or ten dollars. Or a hundred. (Though dollars do help me get stuff done.) My people get me. Like really, really understand me. And that’s not nothin’.

If you read this far, I appreciate you. And thank you to Sarah Hollowell, Liz Tippy, Friday’s Child, and M.K. Harlan. You mean the world to me. Here’s to future essays, comics, and movies.

We’re gonna do this thing together.

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Audrey (in her super-secret third-person) began writing professionally in 2007. Her work has appeared in places like Geek Monthly, on-air via public radio, and onscreen at LA Comedy Fest. She has her MA in creative writing and can be found at AudreyWrites.com, BornForGeekdom.net, and anywhere they serve vegan donuts.