Holly Hammerhands Thumbnails and Facing Fears

October 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog

Moving along on the thumbnails for Holly Hammerhands. Just finished thumbnailing up to act three:

I’m noticing that I’m at the point I always land on in writing a story where I begin to have serious doubts about how it’s coming together. Even after taking tons of notes, ironing out an outline of how things will knit together to relay the overall point, I always start to get jittery when I’m nearly done thumbnailing. When you’re up to your neck in a story, even a short one, you can wonder if you’re getting tunnel vision, losing sight of things, or ignoring your timing or pacing. Up until tonight I was laughing at the story moments and gags, and I shouldn’t let that fun get stomped out by sweating my theory.

Trying to ignore this feeling by taking my own advice as covered in Thunder Punch Daily episodes 98 and 139. For those who don’t want to listen to those shows, the big idea is to just trust that my brain knows where it’s going with this. I’m at the thumbnail stage, after all. There’s time to review and revise. I’m also lucky to have a writing partner on this in Kasey Van Hise, who knows her way around comics storytelling. So I have that to fall back on. This isn’t to say that I’m just going to let go of the wheel and scribble for the next 8 pages. But I’m certainly not going to let myself fall into that self-torture of sweating and chanting about what a hack I am. Press on, get it done, and add the changes you need to make it good once the thumbs are complete.

I suspect a lot of us fall victim to this awful trap, or else why would things like Ira Glass’ little speech on Taste, the Complete Guide to Not Giving a F*** (salty language, watch out), or even the F-Yeah Art Student Owl Tumblr (again, language, careful), wouldn’t get passed around amongst us all. This is to say that instead of asking for a pep talk from you guys, I’m much more interested in using the comments here for commiserating. Do you struggle with this? How do you get through it?

Anyway, a funny panel with Holly feeling cheerful. Looking forward to getting the thumbs done and finishing this story.


2 Responses to “Holly Hammerhands Thumbnails and Facing Fears”
  1. Chad Sell says:

    I definitely struggle with this issue, too. I’ve learned when I need to put aside a project for a few days or a week and return to it with fresh eyes. And it helps to go back to the basic kernel of the original idea, remind yourself WHY you’re so involved in the story and characters to get yourself psyched once more (and to make sure that is conveyed in the actual work). But yeah, such a difficult process! How long do you expect this book will be?

    • Jerzy Drozd says:

      Here’s the funny part – this is only a 24-page story, but these short stories present a microcosm of what happens over and over throughout a larger project. In my 3+ year endeavors, I’d oscillate between feeling like a pro and a hack on a 6-week cycle, it seemed. Couple weeks of feeling great, couple of weeks of feeling like I’m a big phony.

      Backing away seems like a good approach, and thanks for reminding me of that, Chad. Also got some advice on Google Plus to sleep it off, which I also agree with, since most of us cartoonists are sleep-deprived.

      Either way, the challenge is to not let those self-destructive tendencies get too far along in your brain. Like you said, the joy comes through in the work, so it’s probably a good idea to find as many ways to trick yourself back into that joyful state.