The Creative Process
Why its taking me so long to
finish the Secret Adventures of
Ho Hos are a vital part of my cognitive process.
Since I haven't done a commentary in a long time, I figure I should make this one somewhat relevant.
People have asked me, "Why is it takin' so damn long to finish your comic!?!" (Note: The other most frequently asked question is, "Why haven't you updated your site yet!?!" But that's a whole other animal...)
Now, there are certain stages one goes through when creating anything. This can be applied to all different types of media...
Step 1. The Great Idea
This is where the first inception of your project (in my case The Secret Adventures of Phil Chan) takes place. It starts with a tiny idea and starts to grow into a grandiose project where you imagine it being heralded as the greatest thing to be put to paper since the Ten Commandments... (or stone tablets as it were)
Step 2. Takin' it down a notch
You've passed your delusions of grandeur now and realize what you're doing probably won't win you any awards. It's still pretty good. Maybe the best stuff you've ever done. You've still got high hopes for this project. It may not win you any awards but its good solid stuff.
Step 3. Puttin' it to paper
Now at this step, you've had this project all planned out in your head and you start to actually produce your project. But... you find out you're not actually talented enough to put what's in your head on to paper. It pretty much turns out like a half-assed version of what you had in your head. Not exactly what you wanted but good enough.
Step 4. Realization
This is the antithesis of step 1. You no longer have high hopes for your project. You think, if you ever show it to anyone, they'll bludgeon you to death for assaulting their senses (and not in that good way...)
These are the four steps for almost everyone's creative process. Right now, I reside in Step 3 with the Secret Adventures of Phil Chan. But I've already gone through each one of these four steps for each page I've pencilled to date. And I will continue to go through these steps for each and every page I will produce in the future. (By the way I also go through this process with many an aborted commentary...)
Why you ask?
I know my limitations as an artist. I know (sometimes) exactly what I want to see on the piece of paper in front of me. And I'm probably more talented than I think I am. So why do I have to go through this process every time?
The answer is quite simple, actually. There are two versions of your creation. The version in your head and the physical version you create. Now the physical version is (hopefully) the best version of your creation that resides in your brain... at the exact moment you put your hand to paper. Essentially, it's a time capsule of your mind. But, the version in your mind has the ability to grow and change, whereas the physical version is stuck as-is.
Which actually brings me to...
Step 5. Letting Go
Now if you're worth anything as an artist, you'll take one look at what you've created and say, "I could do better now." No artist in the world ever looks at their creation and goes, "Ahhh... PERFECT!" Temptation sets in and now you'll want to redo your creation. But there's a fine line between being a good artist and being obsessive compulsive. A good artist has to be able to let go.
Not perfect? Let it go, you'll do better next time.
Not up to your standards? Let it go, ask around it'll probably exceed everyone else's standards. (George Lucas... I'm lookin at you... Special Edition Trilogy)
A steaming pile of crap? Well... you might want to redo this one... (George Lucas... I'm lookin at you again... Episode 1)
Steps 1-4 are almost automatic. But Step 5 is probably the hardest thing that an artist needs to learn to do. So now you have a glimpse of what goes on inside my head as I'm doing the Secret Adventures of Phil Chan (there's other stuff but nothing I can post on the web... at least not without someone alerting the authorities...).