Pictured: Some preliminary attempts at a quicker drawing style

When I play pool, my “strategy” basically amounts to trying to shoot in whichever of my assigned balls is closest to a pocket. I suck, so managing even that is rare.

Professional pool players, on the other hand, take a lot more into consideration. They don’t consider each shot separately, but think in terms of the whole game. They might start off with a more difficult shot if it will put up in a better position for the shots that follow. At the highest levels of play, there’s a whole other layer of strategy.

It’s similar with comics. An amateur cartoonist might only concern themselves with making a comic that’s interesting and looks good. The professional cartoonist has the added challenge of needing to do all that in a timely manner. The greatest cartoonist in the world wouldn’t be able to make a living at it if their life’s work amounted to one book that was 10% done. If you want to make earn any sort of living as a cartoonist, you need to have books available for sale, which means you need to finish them at a steady pace.

I suspect that if I could manage to put out a book like Tonoharu: Part One at least once a year, and devoted time to marketing them, that I could somehow eke out a living. Right now I’m nowhere near that pace. I spent all of last week drawing a single panel. Granted it was probably the most complicated thing I’ve ever drawn in my life and I think it turned out pretty cool, but still. It might be reasonable to spend a week on the cover, but a single panel in the middle of the book? That’s harder to justify. I literally can’t afford to work as slowly as I have been if I want to make a living as a cartoonist.

It’d be too jarring if I just switched styles in the middle of a story, so even though it’ll take me years of tedious work to finish Tonoharu, I’m going to continue along in the same way. But I’m already thinking about the books that will follow, and how I might adapt my style to allow me to finish pages more quickly. My study of East Asian calligraphy has been helpful towards this goal (for reasons I’ll describe in another blog entry sometime).