15 August 2009

Challenges: The Lonely.

I've been thinking about how making comics is a pretty solitary occupation, and how easy it is for a creator to work in almost complete isolation a lot of the time. It's not much fun, and it's probably not very healthy - being alone in this way it's especially easy to fall prey to doubts and insecurities, lacking anyone nearby who can offer support or sympathy or just an understanding of whatever challenge you're wrestling with at the time.

In most other jobs you'll have colleagues around who you can ask for advice or appeal for support or validation, a point of view from outside your own head that can help put things in the proper perspective, or just a background presence of other human beings which can be comforting, even if they're over there doing their own thing and not interacting with you directly. For creative types to work without this support network, though... it gets tricky.

Twitter has helped with this to some extent, because it's easy to just throw something out there and have others respond with 140-character messages of support or solidarity. Broadcasting on Livestream or Ustream while I draw has also been good, as I can be drawing the comic in one window and glancing over to the chat every now and then, and using the microphone so I don't need to stop drawing to type my replies. I appreciate the company.

Still, there are times when these things don't quite hit the button. Twitter is limited to text, streaming video is a bit one-way (you can only talk at the people who come to watch you, they have to type in reply), and podcasts are good to listen to (like listening in on a conversation between peers), but lack the interactive aspect.

Really I'd just like a kind of virtual studio experience, a means to capture the feeling of sharing a workspace with other artists in a way that doesn't disrupt that work. It'd be nice to be able to call over to check on how a colleague's doing, or to ask for a quick glance-over of a piece you're not sure about because you've been up close to it for so long and can't tell any more. Or even just engage in conversational banter to break up the quiet.

I guess the nearest approximation would be some kind of voice chat like Ventrilo or TeamSpeak, with a channel where artists go to hang out while they work. If you didn't fancy talking you wouldn't have to, you could just leave it running in the background while others talk shop and chip in when you felt like it.

Given the wide disparity of working hours and timezones, though, I suspect it's likely to remain a pipe dream for now. Which is a shame.


  1. I don't know what the convention circuits are like in the UK, but I imagine that would help in terms of at least networking and finding new artists.

  2. Yeah, that's one way to network with people, though I was thinking of more of a day-to-day human contact kind of thing. :)

  3. That would be great indeed ! Only, I think it's going to work as soon as multiplex vedeoconferencing is available at low cost. Bandwith...
    We work dupleix, Mirlikovir and Myself, and this is cool. We each have a VNC capture of our partner's monitor, and a msn audio chat. Definitely helps feeling less alone... in those dark places :) (oh the humor!)