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Makeshift Musings and Comic Book Bliss: Web Money and the Creative Mind

There's been a lot of talk about webcomics as a business lately. More than ever before, webcomics are sustaining themselves and their authors through their hard work and promotion. Exciting times seem to be right around the corner for the industry as a whole.

But if you're not a webcomic guru with tens of thousands of readers, what then?

It's a tough question. Everyone's ideas of quality and worthiness will fluctuate just as every person can find comedy in different situations. As artists, we want our hard work to pay off with a robust audience, positive feedback, and continued inspiration to keep creating. And, oh yeah – money would be great too. Money makes the world turn. It's the fly in every artist's ointment. I mean, doesn't every cartoonist who works hard deserve to make money from their creative energies?

You can wrack your brain over popularity, marketing, and money opportunities afforded by the web until you're various shades of plaid. I love Paypal, BitPass, Modern Tales, Keenspot, and everything else the webcomics community has used to increase their exposure and viability. It makes me giddy with the possibilities. In fact, if everyone who read my work gave just a little bit of money I could-

Stop. Slow your brain down and come back to reality.

What's the motivational force behind creating your webcomic? Is it a self-sustaining career? You may want to slow that down. I have nothing but respect for people who are determined to turn their dreams and hobbies into full-fledged jobs, but that shouldn't be the primary motivational factor. Financial security created from a hobby in a volatile market as your motivational impetus doesn't tend to last long when that money doesn't instantly drop onto your doorstep.

The most popular webcomics creators toiled at this stuff for years before it became their life. Even then, there are thousands of others who never moved beyond the hobby stage of it. These aren't all bad comics either – some just haven't pierced the web consciousness yet. Chances are you won't either, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Think about these types of motivation:

  • Creation as a gauge of self-improvement in art or writing
  • Creation as a way to record events or ideas.
  • Creation as part of a community and a sharing process.

These are the motivational factors that will carry you far and outlast expected unrealistic expectations of financial growth. Willpower has to fuel you, not the phantom of future monetary gains.

There are far too many webcomics out there – good and bad – to bank on yours moving to the top of the heap and becoming a career. Enjoy the process and focus on the work. Promote where you can, but not at the expense of the actual creation of the comic itself.

Deal with the internal (the work) and the external (the success) will let you know when you're ready.

Honest.

Re: Makeshift Musings and Comic Book Bliss by Jim Zubkavich

I think this is an important read. Thanks for writing it! =)

Re: Makeshift Musings and Comic Book Bliss by Jim Zubkavich

Erik Melander's picture

What a great column. The list of types of motivation is pretty much exactly why I decided to start making comics.

Re: Makeshift Musings and Comic Book Bliss by Jim Zubkavich

I always figure that "creation as a way to get the ideas out of my brain before they start chewing off my ear" is one of the big ones, but that admittedly lacks a certain pithiness.