Mortality Plays
writer / illustrator /
lorewitch / grump

About: cartoonist

· lorewitch · grump

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Making Comics For Free: In Ten Years I’ll Read This and Cringe

While I’ve been working on Mythos, it’s been pretty evident to friends, family and people around me that I’m pouring a lot of time and effort (and heck, money) into learning to make comics. More than a sane person would put into something they call a hobby - and more than I ever put into college, to be frank. Naturally this leads to people asking why and what will I do with it? The first is really straightforward: I love it. The second is simple, but hard to answer. When I say I’m doing all of this so that I can put the product online for free, people tend to look blank. Some get visibly uncomfortable. Usually the response is “-well, and then you can always send it to publishers, and you’ll have something to show in your portfolio.” Both true, but missing the forest for the trees.

I have a few reasons for publishing Mythos online. First, it’s a learning project. I designed it that way. I have no illusions of being able to compete with commercial artists on technical ability (yet). The group at Webcomics Weekly hit the nail on the head when they said that the internet isn’t inherently a place for ‘bad comics’ - it just opens out people’s learning processes to the public. It makes visible all the background work that would otherwise sit in a folder under my bed and linger over me like a bad dream for the next five years.

Second, the internet is an incredible networking tool. Before I had even put pencil to paper on the first page, I was watching and listening and learning from countless other artists and writers taking similar journeys. By asking questions, offering advice and sharing my own work, I’ve made friends and connections all over the world, who keep me going when my enthusiasm wears thin. There is a community online which is far broader and deeper than any I could have encountered locally - even better, they’ll sit neatly on my desk and be ready to advise me at a moment’s notice at 3am, then fold away flat and disappear when I want to watch television.

Third, and perhaps most of all, accessibility isn’t just a boon for creators. I have shelves and boxes of physical comics sitting in my room which I love to dive into whenever I can - but very few are contemporary. Most are collections that were gifted to me by older friends, or on indefinite loan from my parents. There are tomes of classic American newspaper comics, Marvel and DC collections from the 60s and 70s, stacks and stacks of Asterix and Oor Wullie, and series-turned-novels like Watchmen and The Ballad of Halo Jones. The only recent comics I own are a mess of goth comics I revelled in as a teenager, runs of Preacher and The Walking Dead, and a few stray Deadpools. Why? Because I don’t have money to spend finding out what’s good. Even as somebody interested and motivated, aware of mainstream characters and their legacies, current cape comics are baffling. Keeping up with a single title is like trying to hold a conversation with just one head of a hydra that won’t stop arguing with itself. A few years ago my recourse was to wait, frequent the library, and buy whatever still sounded good at the end of its run. Now I just read webcomics. 

In the end, none of my reasons for putting Mythos online are “Because it might get me a real job.” In my naive young mind, a real job is what I need to support my ability to put a free comic online. Because storytelling is something I love, and something I need to do, and something I will do for any audience that comes to listen. I don’t want someone to stand beside me, demanding admission and turning people away if they can’t come up with a coin to put in the hat. And I certainly don’t want a manager telling me my heroes should be manlier or my princesses more like the girls in Sports Illustrated.

There are forums and communities and learning programs out there which are for people who want to break into the print comics industry. Some of them are okay, but honestly most of them are pretty gross to my sensibilities. They’re about making oneself employable, which for the most part means aping the status quo. It means learning to make work which would not disrupt the visual style of Marvel/DC/Disney/Pixar. It means racial and gender stereotypes, body policing, and innovating within the acceptable boundaries of a mass market. Learning the dress code of the establishment one wants to work in. The thing is, when I say I want to make comics, I don’t mean “I want to work for Marvel”. I mean I want to make comics. Someday somehow getting paid for that work would be lovely - but you know what? 

I’m making comics.


comics webcomics making comics
  1. subversivedreamworlds reblogged this from mortalityplays
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  3. gaelissfelin reblogged this from mortalityplays and added:
    Making Comics For Free: In Ten Years I’ll Read This and Cringe While I’ve been working on Mythos, it’s been pretty...
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  11. felixduskglass reblogged this from varethane and added:
    I went into my current comic not expecting to make any money from it ever, let alone a profit. I just like making...
  12. varethane reblogged this from mortalityplays and added:
    This….. pretty much sums up why I do it too, haha. I would love to someday be able to make money off my comics, but it’s...
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