Making Comics: Why I’ve Failed So Far

If you’ve been around iFanboy for a long time, you’ve probably heard me talking about breaking in to comics, or making comics. It’s no secret that I fancy myself a writer, and that I have the stuff to get some comics published. For all my support of digital comics (all genuine), I have a deep and abiding desire to see my name on the cover of a book on a shelf. I’ve been working on it, on and off, for about a decade now.  In that time, I’ve learned a hell of a lot about the craft, spoken with many of its best practitioners, and met all sorts of people who are in positions to help me.

Yet, here we are in 2011, and the first file I created for my first comic book script, Low Level, was created on April 6, 2001. That’s almost 10 years, and thus far, I’ve had no luck getting on a shelf. This isn’t to say that I haven’t gotten anywhere. When I started, I didn’t know anyone, and had never had anything drawn, and didn’t know what I was doing at all. Since then, I have written a bunch of scripts, and had many pages drawn from them. I’ve learned much more about the craft of story, and how to apply that to sequential art. I’ve learned how to work with different artists, of pencils, colors, and letters to get a product that both reflects what I had in mind, as well as what I think might actually sell.  I don’t think I really took it all that seriously until the podcast and everything started taking off, and I thought I might have a shot.

Still, nothing on the shelf. So I’ve been thinking about why. First of all, and I want to make this absolutely clear, it’s mostly on me. I’m not about blaming anyone. It’s my dream and my responsibility, and at the end of the day, it’s only up to me.

 I DIDN’T DO ENOUGH

This is my biggest problem. Ten years is a hell of a long time. In that time, I’ve thought about what I’d write a lot more than I actually wrote. I’ve got a dozen or more serviceable ideas and concepts written down, but only a handful have had any real development done to them. Of those, only a few have gone to actual scripting. The reasons for this are many. The video game console is the greatest opponent to extracurricular productivity in the history of man. Sometimes, I get to the end of a long day, and have 30 minutes to unwind before I have to go to bed and start it all over again, and I just want to zone out and save the west, or the cosmos, as the case will be. Finding the motivation to push past that desire to relax in a world almost entirely devoid of relaxation is a monumental roadblock.  

But the few minutes I spend playing a game isn’t even close to the structure of the rest of my life. I’m a busy guy! I spent most of the early part of the last decade working in television, with long hours, and grueling work loads. I’d written that first script, but tried, both in vain and not hard enough, to find an artist to work on it. By the time I kicked in and got serious again, probably 3-4 years ago, life had really kicked in to gear. In addition to a full time job, we were doing iFanboy, website, audio and video podcasts, all on the side. I’m also married, and wanted to make sure I had some fun in life, and that didn’t leave much time for a third job.


Cut to 2008, and I quit my job to do iFanboy full time. I figured the combination of my newfound free time and poverty would be the perfect compliment to a fledgling writing career, but what ended up happening was that when you run your own business and work at home, you never stop working. It was a real problem. It’s not like I sat at the computer for 16 hours straight every day, but it never stops, and it never shuts off, and I never found that balance about when to just stop. And when I did, I certainly didn’t have much creative energy left. Regardless, this was also my most productive time. I started 2 projects I’m still working on, with collaborators who have become my partners and friends to this day. But those guys had lives too, and they’re not going to put out a page a day, like a professional, paid artist will. They had bills to pay, and I’m not paying. So while they’re working, and I’ve got a couple balls in the air, I spent a lot of time waiting, and giving more notes. I could have written ahead and gotten a store of scripts in my back pocket, but with the time it took all of my first ones to get drawn, it just seemed kind of pointless. I’d write when it was needed. I’m a demon with a deadline. Without one, I’m nearly useless.

Then came the unemployment and the baby. Before we were acquired by Graphic.ly there was a period where my wife was pregnant, and I was searching for another job. A real job. I don’t know if you feel like you know fear in your life, but the fall of 2009 was the time of fear. With our first child on the way, I was trying to find a real job, and that fear was all encompassing. I found it impossible to be productive. I look at this as my own failing again, since I should have been able to get something useful out of that time, and those strong emotions, but I was singularly focused on achieving income and insurance. That was all. After Oliver was born, like the next monday, we started at Graphic.ly, and quickly ramped up production on iFanboy. Add that in with the demands of a quite demanding baby, and two parents who are both trying to work at home, and you’ve got more excuses for slow productivity.

That’s all they are, though: excuses. Brian Bendis is one my role models, and the thing he always said is that if you want to write, write. Just do it. You don’t need anything. You don’t need anyone to give you permission. You just need to do it. Far too often, I didn’t.

I DIDN’T PUSH MYSELF OR MY WORK ON OTHERS ENOUGH

I’ve got a hell of a marketing machine at my disposal. Many thousands of people listen to and watch the shows I host and produce about comic books. Still more come to the website where I write about comics. (Hello!) I’ve met editors from a whole lot of publishers, and yet still I failed to push hard enough. There are those who are good at selling themselves, and there are those who don’t get their books published.

The fact is, I have a really introverted side to my nature. I hate the idea of foisting myself on someone, and in the business of comics, you have to sort of be up in everyone’s face. But in a way that’s not irritating. I have not mastered that at all. It’s all got to do with networking, and those who can’t swim will drown. A lot of times, a creator needs to come up with at least one confederate who will always be there to champion their work. Jason Aaron has talked about this in his columns, that Axel Alonso and Will Dennis have always been there for him. Maybe it’s a mix of not wanting to be too pushy, or even not believing in my work enough, but this has been a big downfall for me.

It’s not enough to put yourself out there, and just hope the quality of what you’re doing will shine through. Creating, writing, editing, and just getting the thing made isn’t even close to enough these days. At iFanboy, we got email every day from creators trying to push their work. I can’t even keep up responding, let alone reading and reviewing it. Those people are all out there vying for your attention, and a relatively small amount of dollars. If you succeed, you’re either very talented, very lucky, very persistent, or that wonderful combination of all those traits. But you’ve got to be out there, and there’s no way around it.

The way I always understood it is that the way to get professional, paying work, was to go out there, get published somewhere else, and prove that you can do it. It doesn’t work this way for everyone, but that’s been my goal.

THE MARKET IS ABYSMAL

This one is sort of on me and sort of not. The comic book market is contracting at a terrifying pace. The stuff that sells is the stuff that’s always sold, and the new stuff is, by and large, ignored. Smaller publishers are getting squeezed, and they’re only going to bet on sure things. Neither I, nor my stories are sure things. Even if I’m known as a comics podcaster, and a damned successful one, to be honest, that doesn’t mean squat when you try to switch categories.

Further, one of the books I tried to pitch is about a gay cowboy. I mean, it’s more than that, and if it was really that reductive, it would be an awful story. (It’s not.) But that’s a tough sell to an audience who has, time and again, proven that they like superheroes, and not much else.

The saving grace for a lot of comics is that Hollywood will option damn near anything they can find that they might make a movie from, but Westerns have not typically been big sellers in any medium for a very long time. Maybe True Grit will change that, but someone who wants to get their comic published by someone else is serving several masters. There’s the publishers themselves, the direct market, and Hollywood to a certain extent, because they’re always a factor in the background. If you want to get a book published, you need to be mindful that they need to be able to bring in as much revenue as possible, and Hollywood is a lifeline for comic book publishing.

Now, I always have the option of publishing myself. Sort of. If you read the part about time, and my life, it just doesn’t seem like an option. I have too much else to do, and too much to pay for. If I’m going to publish comics, I need help. I can’t do it all myself. It’s unlikely I’d make any real money doing it for a long time, so it’s ostensibly the same as spending a lot of resources on a very passionate hobby. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but I’m not 24. I wish I was more motivated when I was. I’d slap the hell out of myself. So for now, my goal is to get someone else to publish me, because that’s the way I’ve decided to do it. It could change.

The other reason I don’t want to self-publish is because I want people to read my work. To self publish is noble and admirable, but there’s also a huge chance for complete anonymity.  I’ve been to lots of comic conventions, and there are always rows and rows of guys who put out their own books. They rented a plasma screen and hired a model to stand there, and have stacks of books, and you’ve never heard of a single one of them, and you never will, because there are hundreds just like them, and most people’s experience is that they’re not very good. That’s my experience. Sometimes passion and effort just aren’t enough. A whole lot of independent comics that get sent my way just aren’t that good. An alarming number of them, actually. Making good comics is hard.

ART IS SUBJECTIVE AND VERY IMPORTANT

I thought I knew comics art when I started this little adventure, but never did I learn so much about the building of a comic book page as I did when I started to help construct them. There are all sorts of rules-of-thumb that go into a comic page that I never knew about. Sometimes, you’ll get a page, and you’ll think, “that looks pretty good”. Show it to a pro or an editor, and they’ll point out a lot of stuff you didn’t see with your untrained eye. If you’re going to have someone running, you better damned well show their legs. Make sure you’ve got at least one set of feet on every page. Watch the action axis. Watch the flow from panel to panel. Every artist is going to bring different levels of interpretation and experience to building comic book pages. The guys I work with all have their own strengths, and they’re different strengths. But at the same time, we’ve all got something to learn. I and my collaborators both made rookie mistakes and veteran mistakes.

I’m working with artists who, like me, are doing this work on spec. For free. If I had a ton of cash, I could easily hire someone with a bit of a name, and make it easier to for a publisher to take a chance on me.They might have more draw to their names for potential buyers looking at a cover. They might even produce something that’s more commercially viable, in a stylistic sense. If an editor looks at my submission, and sees an art style he doesn’t like, regardless of the skills or mechanics of the actual work, that’s game over. I made my choice in how to produce the comic, and that’s what I’ve got. I’ve done other stories in the past where I was working with people who wanted to work with me when no one else would, but looking back, the work wasn’t there. The artists were good people, and did their best, but it wasn’t pro quality. It has to be pro quality. There’s no way around it. I was told that story would have been published with a different and stronger artist. But that wasn’t the way it played out.

TALENT

At some point, I’m going to have to turn the lens back on myself. Is it me? Am I good enough, or am I just fooling myself. Personally, I’ve been up and down this road in my own mind for a long time. But then find me a creative person who hasn’t. I’m not one of those guys who thinks, “I’m the best there is, and I have nothing to learn.” But at the same time, I’ve read a lot of comics, and a lot of bad stories in general, and I think I know how it works, and think I’ve got something to say. Several pros and editors have told me, after reading my work, that I should keep going. Some people have it and some don’t, and I believe I have the rudiments of what can be built into a good writer. Will it be for everyone? Lord, no. I can really only write for myself. I can only create the kinds of things I’d like to see in comics. I can also only be myself. The very moment, I try to ape someone else, or do something that isn’t me, like following some trend, I’m going to blow it. You probably won’t see a zombie book from me any time soon.

Maybe though, if you took the perspective of the…

Anyway, I can’t know if I’m good enough if I don’t keep working. The good thing is, the more you write, the better you (should) get at it. It’s different for everyone. Comics is a slow process for most. Right now, my goal is to get a book on a shelf with my name on it. However long that takes is how long it will take me. If it never happens, at least I can say that I tried. I didn’t talk about making comics. I made comics. But again, that’s only part of the journey.

Thanks to everyone for the support so far. It’s always helped me. If you're curious just what the hell it is that I've been talking about, most of my comic book output can be found here.

Comments

  1. stuclach stuclach says:

    It takes courage to write an article like this.  Thank you.

    I’ve read everything you’ve linked to and it is entertaining stuff.  Keep plugging.

    @Ozaytoday  I assume you’re joking.  If not, what was the point of that? 

  2. Paul Montgomery PaulMontgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Thanks for writing this, Josh. It’s not for lack of talent though. I’ve read your scripts and they’re ready for primetime. Especially the recent ones. Looking forward to seeing your name on the shelves too. 

  3. Josh, you’ve put some stuff you’ve written up in various places and judging from that, it’s not a lack of talent that has stopped you. It’s the other stuff you mention. Writing is a lonely, difficult thing to do consistently. I know exactly where you’re coming from. My daughter was born a few weeks after your son. I work 12 hours a day. When I come home after a long day, I’m physically shot and mentally drained. After showering, dinner, and spending a few minutes with my wife before she goes to bed, I have a very small window of time before I have to go to bed so I can get up and do it again. Do I spend that time writing, which is hard and nerve wracking and ultimately may lead to nothing? Or do I pop on red Dead Redemption and shoot some bandits for 45 minutes? The video games win out far more than the writing does. And there is the whole “selling yourself” thing. It’s not me, just as you describe about yourself. I am VERY willing to take “no” for an answer. It’s just the way my brain is wired. However, if you can push through the mental aspects of it, you do have the talent to succeed at writing. 

  4. Jeff Reid JeffR (@JeffRReid) says:

    Very sobering article. Here’s hoping that things turn in your favor soon, Josh. When you (eventually) make it to Previews, I’ll certainly be picking up a copy of your work.

  5. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    Dam ozaytoday I’m surprised your comments are allowed on this article. I enjoyed reading this

  6. Thanks for writing this Josh. I applaud your honesty and putting yourself out there like this. Taking a decade to “break in” doesn’t mean you’re not talented. Jim Carrey, Quentin Tarantino…countless bands. Somtimes the long road works out better. 

    In terms of self publishing do you see digital as a way to do that? I’ve noticed quite a few new creators achieve some success through the webcomic platform. Thoughts on that?

    As a married man with a full time job i feel your pain. Yes that PS3 has stolen lots of my free time and it sometimes takes lots of strength to push through on your personal projects …last night i drew part of one panel. Had the time, just not the creative energy. Sucks. 

    One piece of advice that a very well known creator gave me, was to not only “Just Do It” but Do something different. It worked for his art and worked for the writer he’s famously teamed up with.  He went on and on about how so many aspiring creators get caught in a rut of trying to imitate styles or chase the market and create what they think publishers want to see. They want to see honest and new. Maybe its hokey and cheerleder-y, but yeah..,be a new voice.

  7. Thanks, for the article, Josh! I can really relate. I’ve had that word doc on my desktop for over a year and in notebook form for twice that long, and I can’t get myself past the outline stage. It’s tough.

  8. I’ve checked out a lot of the stuff that you’ve posted on your site Josh and I’ve really enjoyed it.  I also wanted to say that the best advice I’ve gotten recently was from a Talksplode with Andy Schmidt (and it sounds like you took it to heart) when he said that he knows a lot of “writers” who don’t actually write, they just talk about their ideas a lot.  You’ve already gotten a heckuva lot farther than many people who want to create comics and I know that when I see a book with your name on it at my LCS I’ll be sure to pick it up.

  9. Edez Edez says:

    Really nice piece, Josh. I don’t know you aside from the site and the podcast, but you’re pretty much saying a lot of things about my own life and my relationship with writing. It’s very brave to put yourself out there, and it’s very much appreciated. Don’t give up. You’re already the Famous Panther. Keep on climbing.

    @ozaytoday: You’re an asshat and a douchetard. May you dine on Hitler’s pickled liver in Hell.

  10. mrmcdaniel mrmcdaniel says:

    whenever you actually get anything in print, I’ll definitely buy it!  You should consider finding a neutral place to write (i.e. a coffee shop, library).  I know for me, HOME can be too much of a distraction to get anything done creatively-between the wife and Netflix… grumble grumble grumble…

  11. Gerry Lopez nudebuddha says:

    Thanks, Josh.  I think you touch a nerve in a lot of us with this article. I wanted to be a filmmaker. Talk about hard. I managed to get 2 shorts made that went nowhere and then, as you detailed, life happened. I’ve been thinking about trying again. I’ve thought about some comics I’d like to write but I really don’t have the first idea how to do it. I also don’t know where I’d find the time. Your article sheds light on the realities of theses things and I think the choice as to whether or not to continue is very personal and there is never a right or wrong answer.

  12. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    @PaulMontgomery  thank you paul, plus what is trolling?

  13. Josh–forget to mention…i’ve read some of your stuff on your site as well. Its not a lack of talent…its the other stuff. Soldier on….

  14. Paul Montgomery PaulMontgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @rottenjorge  Refer to our terms of service. Criticism and disagreement are perfectly welcome so long as the discourse is civil. No need for tirades (trolling). 

  15. stuclach stuclach says:
  16. brassai2003 brassai2003 says:

    wait… are you sure you’re not a photographer. Like me. :(

  17. Kirkerson Kirkerson says:

    I have a coworker who constantly runs marathons and triathlons. His advice to first-timers is always, “Don’t worry about your race time. You’ve beaten everyone who’s never bothered to run a race.” I think that can apply to creative endeavors as well. You’re miles ahead of everyone who has never bothered to pick up a pen and do something.

    To echo @wallythegreenmonster, what about a webcomic? I just started reading the first volume of Emitown and that book is proof that webcomics are a great way to break in to the industry.

  18. JesTr JesTr says:

    Great article Josh! Keep trying and always look for opportunities to sell yourself, like this one.  I know you want to have your work on the selves and one day I’m sure that will happen. However, have you thought about putting your work up on Graphic.ly? You get a ton of traffic here and users can read your work on your site but Graphic.ly may get your work out to others that don’t frequent this site. Keep at it, I’m sure you’ll progress.

  19. VitoDelsante VitoDelsante says:

    Josh, this is probably the most personal article you guys have ever posted, and I don’t just mean on your end.  This article truly affects me because it could have easily been written by me.  It’s no secret that I’ve been at this for 10 years, and have yet to “break out.”  Without getting too far into it, let’s just say that working in the store has been great in terms of meeting all the right people, but terrible because those same people all think that either I’m not serious or that I’m just a retailer.  There is much more to the story than just that, but I’ll keep that to a convention drink or a one on one conversation.  So, thank you for writing this.  This article means a lot to me.

  20. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    @PaulMontgomery    ive been looking for joshs comic books since he says hes a writer ill buy them as long as their $2.99

  21. rottenjorge rottenjorge says:

    @stuclach  thank you@PaulMontgomery  basically you can get banned from ifanboy

  22. WeaklyRoll WeaklyRoll says:

    A lot of people have said similar things, so I will keep it short and sweet. Keep at it Josh and i wish you the best of luck.

  23. Simon Simon says:

    Josh, I struggle with many of your issues, plus the fact that here in Colombia there is absolutely no market to appeal to. I have had to search for alternatives to do the thing I  like to do. Of course the digital option is the first at hand, also to find non conventional outputs for secuential work like educational, commercial or many other entities out there. However, in pursuing the dream of making a “comic book” I always end in the path of SELF PUBLISHING. The hardest, riskiest and could be the most ungrateful of all. You are right in pointing that the first thing you have to do is finish an entire story and have it designed. Then you can see how to finance it. Every step is its own battle. To address the market issue I have found that maybe I won’t be selling a comic book per se. Look at Dapper Men, It sells as so much more than the idea people have of comics (Floppies), It sells as a beautiful book, a work of art even. Those are the things I have thought on this. I wish you luck and strength to not dismay. 

  24. NaveenM NaveenM says:

    Great article, Josh. Tackling your own disappointments can be emotionally difficult.

    Believe me, I can relate to many of the points you make.  For me, the hardest part hasn’t been writing (though that hasn’t been easy), but in finding a suitable artist. 

    Eventually I did, and I decided to publish via the webcomic route. As an unknown, first-time writer, I figure that’s at least a first step. My series launches in April. Wish me luck!

  25. Bobofthnder Bobofthnder says:

    Great article. It’s great to hear about your troubles writing (in a non sadistic way). I mean that’s its good to hear that others have similar troubles, not that I wish ill upon your writing career. If anything, I want you to succeed.
    Maybe I should stop now before I dig myself into a deeper hole, just wanted to voice my appreciation, and I hope you’ll get something published soon. I’d buy it.

  26. AshtonAdams AshtonAdams says:

    You are not alone. I have been going through pretty much exactly the same thing. To the point were I have decided to stop writing comics and focus on prose. At least with that it is done. I miss the comics writing but having to partner with an artist that has the same problems with getting the work done that I have and all I have to show for my work is a couple of pages. I feel lucky I have one book coming out later this year, but it was small press work-for-hire and not reflective of anything else I have done. Life gets in the way. But, like you siad, it’s in your hands to change it. Great article!

  27. even if you aint good at making comics i still love you joshie-kins

  28. charlesp1138 charlesp1138 says:

    Great article sir. Hugs.

  29. monkeypaw787 says:

    Great Article, I’m also trying to look at your comics but how do I zoom in on each page?

  30. dizzpozable dizzpozable says:

    Wow, does this hit home. Excellent piece. I’d probably read a comic about such struggle.

  31. stuclach stuclach says:

    @NaveenM    Good luck, sir.

  32. ericmci ericmci says:

    So why can’t graphic.ly do you a solid and put out Low Level ?

    For me – that’s got a good chance to make it.

  33. mikegraham6 mikegraham6 says:

    This article is FANTASTIC! honestly Josh, great job, one of the best ive read on this site and thanks for the honesty. I think everyone of us can sympathize with you on this. Best of luck going forward

  34. JNewcomb JNewcomb says:

    I’m glad you added the “so far” in the title. :)

  35. Asteraceae Asteraceae says:

    i just read one of yours–it was good, i’d read more. hope you manage to do it someday

  36. NaveenM NaveenM says:

    @stuclach  Thanks! Considering the crowded webcomics world, a solid dose of luck is needed.

  37. trobinson79 trobinson79 says:

    I definitely understand this, Josh.  One of my greatest regrets is abandoning my art minor in college.  Granted, I had a computer science major to deal with too that was a lot harder than I expected, but less goofing off in my college days could have allowed me to at least keep it as a hobby.  I eventually let it slide because of my new career path and other personal matters, but I always had people asking me when I was getting back into it because they knew I had talent.  I’m back into it 8 years later, but looking at the market now, it would take a lot of effort on my part to get noticed.

    Nevertheless, this isn’t about me, it’s about you, Josh.  You have good stuff and you will get noticed soon.  Hard work has to pay off at some point.

  38. BudjetteTan BudjetteTan says:

    At least you know that you still want to write and that you have all these stories to tell.
    That’s what matters the most, yes? To fulfill this deep desire to tell stories.
    To tell the stories only you can tell.

    :-)

  39. SirCox SirCox says:

    Josh, I absolutely loved Career Move and I like to think I have impeccable tastes.

    I hope you get something on the shelf soon, I’d certainly be buying it. 

  40. mikeandzod21 mikeandzod21 says:

    Very inspiring, especially for someone who shares that dream. And I’ve read a few of your stories and I’ve really liked them. I always hope for the day I’ll see that book on the shelf.

  41. Apotheosize Apotheosize says:

    Fantastic article- really appreciated

  42. j206 j206 says:

    This is almost a counter-piece to the article that Jim wrote about not wanting to work creating comics. Nice to read such differeing views and perspectives.

    Keep at it Josh. It definitely seems you got the desire. And you seem to have your heart in it for the right reasons. Only a matter of time in my opinion.

  43. TroyH TroyH says:

    Great piece, Josh, really well-written and candid. And man, did I relate! Even though I’ve had a number of things on the shelves, and ostensibly have had some measure of success, everything you said there equally applies to me and why I haven’t had MORE published. Thanks for a really thoughtful article.

  44. TroyH TroyH says:

    And by the way, I was one of those hundreds of folks who took my self-published comics to conventions and got the small press glare from convention-goers (and in my case, I didn’t even have a full-sized book, just photocopied mini-comics), and if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have gotten the break that allowed me to do this professionally. It certainly doesn’t work for everyone, but trust me, we HAVE heard of some of the folks who did just that.

  45. azrael1981 azrael1981 says:

    great article it made me want to start the support  josh flanagan project. it takes alot of balls to be this sincere and critical on one’s self. all i can say is if writing makes u happy then its worth pursuing,even if its not full time.i looked at some of your work and liked it. i, like a few others here also see the potential in LOW LEVEL.i love music and music comics and would love to see it as an ongoing. you have talent in writting one has but to read all the great articles you write to know that. best of luck with all your projects.

  46. Josh Flanagan josh (@jaflanagan) says:

    @TroyH  Yeah I’m completely aware of that. But my day job is actually to be at the shows and work during them. Catch 22! Clearly it must have worked some someone at some point, but it’s a tough road.

    @Everyone – thanks so much. I hope a couple of you could find something helpful in whatever your “thing” is.

  47. eriklundy eriklundy says:

    Awesome post man.

  48. iamso77 says:

    “The video game console is the greatest opponent to extracurricular productivity in the history of man.”

    Thank you for saying these words. It recently hit me that I have to give up time with hobbies in order to stay focused on my dreams as a artist and I have alot of hobbies. Video games are definitely one of them, I do play once and a while but now it must require some enjoyment within a small amount of time (preferably no games with a deep story or unable to save at any point). I watch less TV and watch DVDs while I’m browsing or drawing. I grew up on all these hobbies but I realized that I need to make sacrifices in order to achieve my dreams.

    The biggest motivation for me is the 30 day challenge that I found out in this article. This really helped me work as a artist every day. I don’t feel guilty if I miss a day, it just motivates me to work harder.

    Thank you for sharing your struggles and keep writing.

  49. j206 j206 says:

    @Josh – Well that’s darn nice of you to say.

    I’m not sure if it consoles your probs with creating or not. But this little iFanboy thing you guys grew from nothing is quite the achievement. Maybe not the same level of creative expression. But you guys have made a bigger impact on the online comic book community than a lot of “successful” creators. Sure as hell miles beyond what I’ve done with my past 10 years.

    Like others have said, your article hit home for me as well. Not about comic writing. But my life in general. I’ve spent the past decade at jobs I that I’ve hated or that have eaten away at my soul. My problem is that I don’t know what it is I want to do or where I should be. All I know is that what I’ve been doing hasn’t worked to provide any sense of fulfillment. I’m envious of people who know exactly what it is that they want to be doing.

    All I can say to those people is if it’s possible, go for it. Unless you got certain life factors that make it less than prudent. Why not at least try? Like I just said. I wish I knew what that “thing” was for myself, so I could at the very least give it a go. I really don’t want to look back at myself 10 years from now and feel I wasted another decade getting lost and overwhelmed by the daily grind.

    So if you’ve always wanted to go to Clown College, put on that red nose! It’s not awesome when your dreams don’t pan out the way you wanted. But IMHO, it’s worse when you look back and realize you never bothered trying.

  50. This is an important part of iFanboy culture — not just talking about monthly comics, but the personal side of who makes them and how they are made. Very nice job.

  51. @josh  I found this very informative and interesting. I really hope you realize your dream of breaking in. I for one, am 16, and like most other comic readers would like to be a writer, although I’m not too optimistic about it.

  52. kennyg kennyg says:

    Josh, great piece. It takes a lot of guts to take a critical look at your work, your work ethic, and your place in relation to where you should be. It’s harder still to be fair and not err in one direction or another. This is a well-balanced self-examination. I do this periodically with my musical endeavors, most of which wind up unfinished at best. I tend to be more critical of and down on myself, where I should probably take a look at the bigger picture as you have. I also appreciate the links to your personal work, which I intend to read all of. I liked the conversation between the main character and Magnificent in “The Remote” – really well done.

  53. Acyd says:

    A most excellent article and one I totally understand.  I’ve been writing for the better part of 25 years and never been published in comics or in ‘book’ form.  I totally understand the ‘not doing enough’ ideas you expressed.  Keep trying and keep plugging away if its your dream then it’ll happen eventually even if its just one title on one shelf in one comics shop! 

  54. It takes alot of hard work to do anything creative. From what I have seen it is not a lack of talent on your part. I had an idea to write a book last April and didn’t put pen to paper, or in this case fingers to keyboard, until November. I currently have 1/3 of the first rewrite done (right around 30000 words). The reason why, fear of rejection, fear of not being good enough, and fear that if its good enough will what I do later be good. When I started I just kept going and I have the goal to force myself to write at least something everyday. Some days I get pages done and others its a challenge to write one sentance. I feel like putting myself in that mindset helps though. I am sure that our lives are very different as I am in college and live at home, but from one person attempting to produce something entertaining and interesting to another, good luck and I can’t wait to see the finished product!
    -Devin

  55. OliverTwist OliverTwist says:

    This is a great article Josh, one that hits home on all levels. I can definitely relate. Although working in a creative field, my peers as well as myself, are struggling with limited spare time to do more meaningful creative stuff, be it  a comic, a short film or personal art work etc. etc.
     Just remember what Bendis and Ellison said” You just have to do it”. Think about how long it took Jeff Smith and Dave Sim to get their stuff published for a shelf copy. Enjoy the journey and never give up.  Bottom line is extremely hard work.
     Look at it this way,  you have created some works, and gotten them created, and the stuff is quite good, you are about a couple of steps ahead of many people. You already fit the indie mold, not it’s full steam ahead into the future.

  56. icn1983 icn1983 says:

    I’m just starting to get my feet wet in comics as an illustrator and, yeah, there’s a lot of hard truths I have to confront everyday (especially since I’m not some 17-year deviantART whiz-kid) and boy howdy, did your bit about artists hit like a ton of bricks. 

    In the end, I generally agree with the 10,000 hours rule (that the key to success in any field is 10,000 hours of dedicated effort), so just keep at it, especially if you still have stories to tell.  

  57. edward says:

    @Josh: Get yourself a pseudonym and start pushing this fantastic writer they are talking about at all the cons and that’s getting major industry buzz. He’s name is Flint Mc Saddleleather

  58. Josh Flanagan josh (@jaflanagan) says:

    @edward  God, I wish I’d thought of that first.

  59. LostArtist LostArtist says:

    Great article Josh.  keep moving as long as you enjoy it, when you stop enjoying writing/creating then stop.  

    You’re doing great.   step 1: Enjoying life   step 2:_________  step 3: make it big in comics   

  60. edward says:

    I’m an ideas man 

  61. Jesse1125 Jesse1125 says:

    I never really thought how tough it must be to get your written work out there in this visual medium.The marriage between writer and an artist,interpreting the script,really has to be a perfect fit and that sounds like a daunting task!
    Keep plugging away though, as I’m sure you’ll find the right fit on the right project. Original thought will garner attention(hopefully)

  62. MrWrong MrWrong says:

    Thanks, Josh.

  63. Mangaman Mangaman says:

    I’m in the same boat as you Josh. Except I’m actually 10 steps behind you. Mainly because I’m actually developing my art style enough to where it’s actually presentable. So far I’m having some successes but in the mean time I’m really taking my time with my first project as I intend on making it an anthology of sorts riddled with loads of sketches.

    Personally I suggest going the same route as Osamu Tezuka and create your own anthology book of stuff you like, experiment with it and when you feel that it’s your best work so far, push it out there. But only once you’re halfway through another work. Keeping steps ahead so you can talk about what other things you are doing is a great way (in my own opinion) of getting long term attention.

  64. klwinters klwinters says:

    Fantastic article. I’m producing comics and trying to “make it” as an indie publisher. Most of the time when I can afford to feel something it is just abject fear. Other times its just a lack of hope. This article is a really great insight in to your sruggle, and its nice to not feel alone in these things.

  65. ecc1977 ecc1977 says:

    Great article, Josh. As a fellow writer who is as-yet-unpublished in comics, I sympathize. And I’m rooting for you.

  66. MisterShaw MisterShaw says:

    @edward  I’m an oil man. And I’ve traveled over half our state to be here tonight.

  67. Jason Wood Wood says:

    Josh, this was some REAL TALK. Good on you for introspection. I find it an essential tool as we all live complex lives and, knowing you as I do, I know you to be someone with lots of goals, and a need for life balance. Being in that same boat, it’s a neverending struggle to accomplish everything you want, and usually one or two facets of our life get neglected at any given time. So to think hard on it, and what could/should have been done differently, is always a good practice. But to share it with the rest of us? That’s above and beyond my friend. ABOVE. and BEYOND.

    Cheers,

    J

  68. harpothedope harpothedope says:

    As a person who is making a serious effort to make it in this industry, who studies voraciously art and story to become the best I can be, no podcast on story telling or anatomy text-book can match the wisdom you have placed in my lap, and all i can say is thank you, sir.

  69. Jagstang Jagstang says:

    Sorry, I know this is more about the writing, but I think there’s the seeds of something great in the visual style of Remote.

  70. Cormac Cormac says:

    Josh - 

    I think it says a lot about you that you aren’t satisfied with JUST starting and growing a business in the field you love, as well as taking care of a family. My wife and I both work (she has her own business), and we have a young child and I totally sympathize. There is barely time to sleep never mind read comics. Never mind write them! Just try to set aside some time every day to write, so even if it never works out, you can say goodbye to comics with no regrets. If you treat it as your job ALREADY, you will feel better about spending the time on it. You put in plenty of hours on iFanboy before you got paid – treat writing as the same thing. Not something you do when you have some spare time.

    And if you really get stuck I’ll give you my awesome Batman story idea ;)  

  71. RaceMcCloud RaceMcCloud says:

    Write every day, write every day, write every day.  Write.  Every.  Day.  No excuses.  

    I get what you mean, though, about the difficulty of having to sell yourself; I’m not so great at that part, either.  I’ll say this, though: procrastination used to be a problem for me, and it is a problem in my other jobs, no doubt.  But not with writing.  I find that writing, sitting down to write and actually practice the craft of writing, is about the single most enjoyable experience I have in life.  I usually have to force myself to stop and go to bed.

    I’m really not trying to show off or anything.  That’s the God’s honest truth.  Occasionally, for example, I’ll sit down to play a video game, once every month or so (if that often), and maybe half an hour, 45 minutes in I’ll lose all interest and start getting irritated with myself that I’m not writing.  And I used to be a big-time gamer, many moons ago.  (It helps that I only have a Wii now, I suppose…)

    There’s that old saying, and I’m going to paraphrase here, “I hate writing, but I love having written.”  I disagree.  I love writing, the act of it, the shaping of words and story.  I feel like a sculptor with clay, as if I’m molding something physical, tangible… it’s really a very visceral thing, to me.  And I guess that’s the trick about the whole “write every day” bit.  In order to have the discipline to follow through on that, you have to really love writing; I mean, that’s what I think, anyway. 

    Great stuff, Josh. 

  72. Cormac Cormac says:

    @RaceMcCloud – Dorothy Parker ;)

  73. Just thought I’d add my appreciation to the pile, powerful stuff that put a lot of things in perspective for me

    Best of luck to you Josh, be it in writing or whatever else you choose to persue

  74. Josh, two things:

    1) Research the Gladwell theory by Malcom Gladwell.

    2) Now is the perfect time to read that book I gave you at NYCC. ;)

    Great read buddy.

    The Tiki

  75. Kodaiji Kodaiji says:

    Great article, Josh. I found it to be very motivating. I understand how the video games can be an enemy, or even a partner in crime in procrastination. Since I work in the video game industry, I force myself to play games to keep abreast of what’s going on in the industry. I wish I could spend that time reading or writing, but it does help me do my job better.

    Also, as some other posters have pointed out, you have achieved something great here at iFanboy. It’s one of the few generally positive sites on the web, and it’s because of your podcasts that I was motivated to get back into comics. I downloaded your POTW podcast to use as litmus test for the quality of current comics (I stopped reading regularly in the late ’90s). Not only did you guys get me hooked on comics again, but you continually introduce me to new series and creators. Thanks for that. (I also learned about DCBS from you!)

  76. Josh Flanagan josh (@jaflanagan) says:

    @thefreakytiki  I read it right after the show. I swear I emailed you about it. Anyway, I was a big fan. Thanks.

  77. diebenny diebenny says:

    Sorry I’m late to the party, but I just wanted to also state that this article is awesome and I appreciate everything that had to go into actually putting this out there.  This doesn’t just apply to writing comics, it applies to everything anyone is seriously passionate about.  In that, it is very inspiring and helpful.  Thank you, Josh.

  78. Great read, thanks for sharing your story.

  79. brattyben brattyben says:

    Josh, you’re doing it, man. You say Bendis is your hero? He’s often quoted as saying he had a fifteen year overnight success. 

    I too have been trying to get a book off the ground.  As a working artist, it’s hard to set aside time to do your own thing when you can get paid to draw other people’s stuff.  And I have some good idea, I just need to find time to restructure my time management skills.  Plus, having a full time job, and two kids and a fine art career, and you can appreciate all the balls you have to juggle. I’ve been working on this book for damn near close to six years, so I feel your pain.

    Keep on truckin’, Josh.  I’ve read a lot of what you wrote (actually introduced to your comics via iFanboy, so there ya go for that) and I really like your varied styles.  

    Thanks for sharing your trials and tribulations. 

  80. @josh I didn’t get the email, but I’m glad you enjoyed it. Dreams don’t go away, we just have to change our plan of attack. ;)

    The Tiki

  81. Thanks for sharing your experience so far.  I hope to one day buy a book with your name on it from my local comic book store.

  82. braincloud braincloud says:

    Josh, you are my hero.

  83. TonyMag says:

    Loved the article. I can totally related to it and like someone else has said, it takes a lot of strength to self-reflect and see your own faults.