In last week’s post, I mentioned that in August of 2014, I drew the first sketch of She Dwarf. About a month later, I took the character for a test drive in the comic shown above. This was for a comic tutorial that I made specifically to demonstrate the proper method of having figures from one panel cross into another panel. But honestly, I was just looking for an excuse to draw this character ASAP.
I was so happy with the result. I was thinking about doing a whole mini comic of single-page, pencil-only, wordless stories about She Dwarf. But as time rolled on, I began to think of how that approach might minimize the kind of story that I could tell with this character, while also minimizing the size of the readership who would be interested in it.
As a creator, I’ve struggled to find my voice and place in the maelstrom of internet cartooning. A big part of that struggle has been admitting that I make needless philosophical stands in my work as a defense mechanism. I’ll give you an example. If I draw a pencil-only webcomic, and nobody reads it, I can just shrug it off and say, “Well I guess readers just aren’t sophisticated enough to understand how and why I’m using the tools to create my art.” You see what happened there? I made the decision that I knew would be unpopular, then blamed my inability to connect with a wider readership on them specifically to preemptively distort the interpretation of the unpopularity. I was defending myself from a result that I was intentionally building? Think about it, what if I had put all the effort of making a thing that looked finished (inked, colored, lettered, had a regular release schedule), but still didn’t connect with a readership? Wouldn’t that make me a failure? If I make a great looking thing, and it’s not popular, shouldn’t I stop making things?
The first and most basic reason to make something is that I want to make it. The joy is in the making itself. If I can first enjoy the making, then I will succeed regardless of the end result. The only way I can fail at making She Dwarf is to lose track of the joy I find in the making, which has nothing to do with how many people like it and how much the RT about it.
Secondary to that primary joy, is the joy I find in saying something with my art. This is where things get complicated, because the joy in saying something comes from being heard. I can’t know for sure what I will do with She Dwarf if it never grows an audience. But for now, I really enjoy sharing what I enjoy making. I have a lot of things that I want to make and say with this strip, so I expect to be at this for while.