The thing about making webcomics is that it’s very much like exercise, or sports. You practice and you get better. But once you’ve been doing it for a while, your body grows accustomed to the activity and it just doesn’t give you that much of a workout anymore. Variety is needed so that your body keeps getting in better shape. Otherwise, you’ll just plateau and go stagnant.
With webcomics, the same thing happens. Doing this day after day is quite a workout, and a great way to improve your craft. But after a while (of being consistent, of course), you’ll get used to your own art and you run the risk of becoming artistically stagnant. I’ve seen it happen to a lot of webcomics, it’s quite common. Think about most of the webcomics you read (the ones that update consistently), and how they all, almost invariably, have improved from their beginnings. Then look at what happens afterwards, and you’ll notice that some of them get a little too comfortable within their own style, and it’s as if the artist feels that he or she just doesn’t need to get any better than that. Sure, they’ll change a bit, but never quite the level of improvement they displayed at the beginning.
From what I’ve observed, and in my opinion, this is quite a difficult issue for us to handle, in part because the audience also grows accustomed just like we do to an art style, and readers don’t normally take kindly to change. As entertainers, we don’t want to lose our audience, naturally. And yes, there’s also the matter of accepting we need to improve, which implies accepting that we’re not perfect. It’s a lot harder than it sounds.
To me, the thrill of being an artist resides in how challenging it is, and the fact that it never stops being challenging if you don’t want it to. I’ve always thought that as an artist, with each new art piece comes the opportunity to learn and practice. Since with practice comes improvement, when you’re done you should always be left with the sensation that you could do it better. It’s this eternal dissatisfaction that keeps me thrilled with my job, because I always feel like I can improve and therefore each and every new art piece has a factor of excitement and discovery to it.
If we take all this along with what I said at the beginning about webcomics, it’s quite clear how easy it is for a webcomic artist to become stagnant. And that’s why we need to constantly shake things up a little, so that we can continue improving upon what we do.
So why am I telling you all this?
Simple, I’ve decided to work on pieces that are a lot more experimental, in order to improve my craft. On Fridays. On Mondays and Wednesdays you’ll get the regular comics, normally RPG-focused one day and “slice-of-life” the other. But on Fridays the comic will be my own little game of artistic experimentation.
And why did I feel the need to explain that to you?
Again, simple. Because sometimes, for the sake of the art, the comic won’t be funny. I mean, it’s not like I’m gonna go all emo on you and start posting sad and sentimental images, or some profound-wannabe hipster crap. Not at all. But if some Friday I just want to paint Ryu Hayabusa running across the rooftops, I’ll probably do that without worrying much about the humor.
Those of you that have been reading COMMISSIONED for a while probably know by now that the art has always been the most important aspect of my work (to me), with the humor just being incidental. A by-product of the art. And believe me, I’ll still try to be funny on Mondays and Wednesdays (and by the way, if you think I’m funny, I thank you tremendously). But on Fridays I’m just going to worry about making the most awesome images I can.
So yeah, that’s the first of the changes that come with the new year. There’s more, but for now I’d like to see what you guys think about this one.
NOTE: I asked around about the Call of Cthulhu card game that they’re playing in the comic, and tried my best to find good references so that it wasn’t so obvious that I have never played it. In the end, images of the game being played are actually kind of scarce, and I even forget to add a bunch of stuff like those little beads and statuettes. I apologize to those that are fans of the game.