Good advice: Make your comics and put them online, then make more then keep doing that without stopping for at least 2 or 3 years before you expect ANYTHING in terms of recognition or readership.
This accomplishes several things. 1) It keeps you from viewing your work as precious. Don’t obsess over one piece, draw and redraw, correct and perfect it all while never posting it. You get better by making MORE comics. Not by making the same comic over and over. 2) It gets you accustomed to the cycle of creativity. Have an idea, refine it, make it, put it up, repeat. 3) It gets you accustomed to taking and responding to feedback and criticism. The more work you post the more readers you’ll get and the more opinions you will start to receive directly or indirectly about your work.
More good advice: ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS be kind. Be kind online, be kind in person, be kind to your readers, be kind to your fellow artists, be kind to the world. This is important above all else because 1)Being an online persona means YOU are the product you are selling. If your product is a total dickbag, the only people who buy it will be total dickbag enthusiasts. 10 years down the road and you realize all of your readers are assholes and you’ve hand picked them because of how you acted. 2) Your peers talk about you when you aren’t around. They decide who to work with on collaborations, who to bring in on new opportunities and who share hotels/booths/wonderful experiences with at conventions. Word will get around SO VERY FAST if you are not a nice person and you will start to wonder why fun projects keep passing you by. 3) Can anyone honestly come up with a reason to NOT always be kind? When looking for a default behavior, you can’t do much better than this.
Even More good advice (lightning round): Don’t worry about merch. Worry about making good comics. Dont worry about getting more readers. Worry about making good comics. Don’t EVER compare your perceived success to that of your peers. You don’t know their situation, or how they came about what you think they have that you might want for yourself. Just worry about making good comics. Never envy your peers money, readers or success (sounds a lot like the last one right? That’s because it’s super important.) Instead, envy how hard they’ve worked and try to emulate that. Also, just worry about making good comics. Don’t try to find success by doing exactly what another artists has done. We all have different paths to success and you’ll do better finding your own rather than copying someone else (in art as well as in business). Also just worry about making good comics.
The worst piece of advice I ever got: Get an invitation to the cool kids table, i.e. Get in with this certain clique and you’ll be instantly welcomed into the secret world of webcomic success. This secret club, community, group, whatever you want to call it DOES NOT EXIST. I spent too many years waiting for artists I admired to take notice of me that I eventually started to obsess over making them like me. Spoilers, it never happened and I had nothing to show for all that worry and grief. I gave absolute strangers power over my mental well being that they didn’t even want and certainly didn’t deserve. Don’t worry about making “powerful” friends. You will make more friends in this industry by BEING a good friend first. Offer help, offer support, share your audience with artists whose work you admire. Be honest, be genuine and be kind. Repeat that 1000X in your head every day until it’s the only thing you even understand anymore.
By the way, the person who gave me that terrible advice was me.
Good advice: Your daughter will eventually receive sexually aggressive messages if she identifies herself as female and has public contact information available (e-mail, social media etc). It’s possible her work and contact information will stay in a small circle of unaggressive people, but if she works hard and tries her best, it doesn’t seem very likely.
If you haven’t already, you should ask advice from a female cartoonist. They’ve dealt with different things, and I’m sure your daughter has a female cartoonist she looks up to already. Someone else could tell you a lot more about what it means to be a woman with a public identity. It seems like it is different for everyone, but probably worth talking about!
More good advice: ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS be from an upper-middle class background, preferably white and North American. This is important because above all else: YOU are the product you are selling. If your background isn’t similar to the demographic of people who have free time and capital they want to spend on funny internet pictures, you may not receive much money for your funny internet pictures. I’m talking jokes about Star Wars, I’m talking jokes about Siri, I’m talking jokes about having more money than you need and buying things you don’t want.
If you don’t want to tell jokes, the important thing in a medium free from all restraint is to mimic corporate content as closely as possible. You can use anime, manga, nickelodeon, disney, saturday morning cartoons, anything a listless suburban child might rest their eyes on for respite from the white walls and identical houses.
Even More good advice (lightning round): The only thing you should worry about is making good comics. Don’t worry about what “good” means, or what “comics” mean, and don’t think about what “you” means. You should do a thing that is impossible to define, and when you are done say to yourself, “I have accomplished that thing I can’t describe.” You could think about how your comics are “not good” but what does that mean? Instead, brown sliced onions in a pan with olive oil, salt and pepper at medium temperature for about half an hour. Afterwards whatever else you put in there will taste pretty good. Get some rice or noodles or bread going. Comics don’t exist.
The worst piece of advice I ever got: Don’t criticize other people, it will come back to haunt you. These are small social groups and we need everyone’s support. Everything is fine, the power structures are fine. The stories being told are fine, the people with the money to fund the stories are fine. The cultural expressions pushed to the periphery are fine, the suffering people our cultures ignore are fine. Actively choosing privileged voices and perspectives to be told, repeated, and propagated, that’s fine. Manufacturing huge amounts of living matter into dead objects meant for the garbage dump are fine. That the voices in authority are still primarily male, affluent and light-skinned, that’s fine. They can tell us which non-males, which poor people, which dark-skinned people we should pay attention to, which deserve to be allowed into our social and economic groups, and that will be fine.
Here’s an animation I did as part of a final. Audio is from adventure time! Tumblr is making it a bit weird and laggy. Oh well.
Also wanted to say thanks because I just passed 2,000 followers! Each of you go to a mirror right now and high five your reflection. You’re the best.
my dark secret, now making the rounds on tumblr for some reason. the embarrassing part is I put the period outside of the quotation marks like some kind of chump.