Making It till you Make It.

The most important thing you can do to "make it" as a comic creator.

Hey everyone!

I don’t have any new releases or things to announce this week, so I thought I would take some time to talk more about working as an indie comic creator, and some things I’ve learned along the way. So, let’s talk about faking it, making it, and everything in between.

We’ve all heard the term “fake it till you make it”, and I’ll be honest in saying it’s something I used to firmly believe in - until I realized I was applying it completely wrong.

The basic premise is to act as though you have the confidence, enthusiasm, and know-how, as someone who’s found great success, and eventually, that attitude will help you succeed.

In my experience, the only part of it that’s really useful in actually succeeding is the confidence part - just having the faith in yourself that you CAN do and achieve the things you want to achieve. It’s very hard to feel that confidence and keep a positive attitude when you get rejection letter after rejection letter, bad review after bad review, or day after day of people just flat out ignoring something you put your heart into.

But, learning to feel that confidence in yourself even when everything in your life is seemingly telling you otherwise is a great skill to develop. “Faking it”, in this context is pushing yourself to have that confidence and remain positive at times when you are very much not feeling it.

So you sit down at your workstation, feeling like a complete and utter fraud. But you trust that even if you’re not feeling connected to it, your ability is there. So you fake it for the first couple of paragraphs… just to go through the motions.

But before you know it, you’re doing it for real.

I think that’s a healthy use of the concept, and if it’s something you struggle with, I’d recommend reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s a great motivational book and has a lot of really interesting insights into what stops us from creating, and how to push through it.

Where I don’t think “fake it till you make it” works, though, is when you’re acting as if you’re building a career or body of work without actually making anything. And it’s shockingly common. Maybe it’s just social media distorting everything, but I see so many people consumed with figuring out what the secret sauce to becoming a comic creator is, and so obsessed with the idea that there must be some trick to it, that they miss something that’s blatantly obvious.

Some people focus so hard on how to make it in comics, that they forget that the most important thing they can do is to actually make them.

Make. Comics.

You have to make them. It’s hard, it’s expensive, it’s demoralizing at times, but you have to make them if you want any hope of a career in conventional comics.

Want to write Spider-Man for Marvel? You have to make your own comics first. Draw Superman for DC? You have to make your own comics first.

Want to pick a D-List character that nobody has heard of, and less people care about, and revitalize them with a fresh take? You have to make your own comics first.

It’s not easy. I’ll say it again because IT’S NOT EASY. But there are more ways to make comics today than ever before - and if YOUR comic doesn’t fit the mold of a 20 page booklet stapled down the middle, there is still a place for it in this world.

Webcomics, underground comics, kickstarter comics, fan comics, whatever it is, you can find a way to get it out there.

I wish I had learned that lesson a lot earlier in my own career… I’m truly amazed and thrilled at where my comics career is now, but with the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had gotten much more, and varied work out there during my first few years.

But, instead of dwelling on that, or on the people who are out there right now doing it wrong, let me introduce you to 5 creators who are absolutely doing it right:

MARIO CANDELARIA - I first encountered Mario’s work a few years ago, with his excellent ASHES: A Firefighter’s Tale, and I’ve since seen him contribute to tons of indie anthologies, announce new series with publishers like Scout Comics, and take his own projects to Kickstarter, like FOG LINE, which I am eagerly awaiting. There’s no doubt in my mind that Mario’s tenacity is going to take him far.

FELL HOUND - If you can look at that image and not want to read COMMANDER RAO immediately, I don’t know what to tell you! There’s not a sketch, or drawing that Fell posts on her feed that I don’t love - they’re dripping with a style and energy that I think is just amazing. If you missed the Kickstarter, I heard some great news that Commander Rao will be out through Scout Comics this November, and I’m sure it’s just the first series in what’s going to be an epic career.

FRASER CAMPBELL - Aside from being an excellent writer in his own right, Fraser is someone I get together regularly with, along with a couple of other writers to discuss projects, and help each other’s work shine. And Fraser’s shines like a goddamn diamond. Whether its his trippy, Prisoner-inspired spy epic ALEX AUTOMATIC, smart, high-concept sci-fi like IND[X]ED, or hard bitten crime noir like THE EDGE OFF, he always brings the goods.

LIANA KANGAS - I don’t know anyone in comics as enthusiastic and supportive as Liana is. When I first met her, she’d just finished one of her first anthology shorts, and now, just a few years later, she’s worked on and co-created series like SHE SAID DESTROY, TRVE KVLT, BLACK (AF): DEVILS DUE, and freaking STAR WARS. Not to mention pumping out sick variant covers like it’s nobody’s business.

PHIL BUTEHORN - I’ve taken a lot of pleasure watching Phil go from a friend and supporter of indie comics to someone who is producing them in his own right. He’s contributed to a ton of anthologies on Kickstarter, and is one of the most humble and hardworking guys I know in the game. He’s not looking for shortcuts, he’s looking to put in the work, hone his craft, and make his way up the ladder rung by rung. I have no doubt in my mind that drive is going to serve him well.

I know so many more indie creators that are out there working hard, and I’m planning to use this space to showcase them whenever I can. I hope you check out some of their work, and support their projects if you like what you see. Not a faker among them.

But, I’m also curious - who are some independent creators that you think are doing great work that deserves to be shouted out more? Who has the passion and drive that inspires you? Let me know in the comments, and let’s share some of our favorites with everyone else who reads this!

Ok, that’s it for now… I’ll be back hopefully next week, or the one after that with some more musings on the world of comics, and maybe some vague (or not so vague) updates on how my work is going. Until then, enjoy yourselves, and stay safe out there!

- Rich