Anyone who has paid any sort of attention to my blog over the past year will know that one of my long-term life goals has been to have my own webcomic. Well as of 1pm yesterday that dream finally became reality. Yes, that’s right loyal reader, Acidgirl is now and honest to goodness, live webcomic, updating every Friday at 1pm (until I get faster at drawing them then it’ll be twice a week, and we’ll see what the future holds after that.) It’s been a long, hard slog to reach this stage. Well over a year of teaching myself to draw, learning how to use various art programs, getting to grips with my graphics tablet. In short, in one year I taught myself all the basics I needed to know. Mastering them…well there’s a reason I’m only putting one page up a week for the time being.
But as excited as I am about the reality of being webcomic artist, what I really want to speak about today are the lessons I’ve learned from reaching this stage. And I don’t mean the skills, I’m speaking here about the life lessons I learned over the past year, and a half.
Eighteen months ago (more or less) I decided to write a webcomic. The original idea was as far from the Acidgirl concept as it’s possible to get without literally moving to a parallel universe. But it really excited me to have this concept jump almost fully formed in to my mind. Then I tried to draw some of it. The results were less than good. Actually the results being described as bad would be complimenting them far too profusely. The results were frankly, frikkin’ awful. The bastard love-child of Star Trek: The Final Frontier, and the last All Saints album, it died a cold lonely death, unwanted, and unloved by anyone but me. I weep for it still. No really, see? Actual tears.
It was a disheartening experience to say the least. But I learned from it. I realised that while I could write (if punctuation was ignored, and it often was), I couldn’t draw anymore. There was a time when I could draw extremely well. A time when I won competitions, and small awards for my artwork as a child and a teen. But the intervening 20-ish years had put paid to those skills, and if I was to ever be a web-artist I would need to relearn everything, from scratch.
It was a hard lesson to learn. It nearly killed my dream there and then.
But I persevered, and around November of last year realised that my artwork had reached a good enough standard to start putting up pages. Note how I said “good enough”.
That’s the second biggest lesson I learned building up to yesterday. That sometimes there is such a thing as good enough. As horrible a thought as that is to any perfectionist, much less one with a nasty case of O.C.D. What I put up yesterday is not perfect. It’s not as well drawn as I wish it was. It’s not really in the style I wanted it to be. It’s not a lot of things, but it is good enough for a start. It is good enough that people will see where I’m trying to go with it. And it is a starting point, a point I can build on, and develop from.
That was the biggest and most important lesson I’ve learned over the past 18 months, that even if I’m still drawing comics in a decades time, it’ll still only be a starting point. You’re never going to reach the zenith of your skills, style, techniques. Because it’s all an ongoing learning experience.
I now know that I will still be studying drawing techniques in decades to come. I know that I will still be practicing in years to come because it’s the only way to improve my skills, but I also now understand that I will never get it perfect, I will always be chasing that imaginary goal, and it will always be on the horizon. I for the first time truly understand the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become truly proficient in any skill. 10,000 hours of doing that skill, not studying it, not thinking about it, but doing it. I’m now excited by the idea of going to events, museums, bars, burlesque nights. You know purely to practice life drawing, nothing to do with the semi-nude ladie…okay even I couldn’t keep a straight face on that one. I’m excited that alongside my writing I have another complimentary skill to practice, and grow into, perhaps for the rest of my life.
And who knows, in a few years I might even get to a point where I can tell the story of my original idea. We’ll see.
But in the mean time I have Abigail Acidgirl’s story to tell. (<—- that’s the link to my webcomic, you know, in case you missed the first two times I put it in this article.)