Tips and Tricks

< back to list of questions

Q1: How did you get started with creating comics? What advice would you have for a novice?

‘I loved comics from when I was a child, but had no clue how to get started. I finally started hanging out with some cartoonists in college – I learned a lot just from listening to them, and started doing my own stuff. My advice would be that if you want to do comics, you need to spend time around cartoonists – this applies if you go to art college or even if you don’t.’ Ellen Lindner, Mentor.

‘I did a degree in illustration, which enabled me to spend three years doing nothing but drawing, which was great! But really the most important thing is to draw all the time and make sure you have a great story. Because with comics you need both.’ Isabel Greenberg, Intern.

‘I’ve been reading comics since I was in single digits, but what made me love the medium was Ghost World. I always felt a bit daunted to actually draw my own comics and stories as I felt I couldn’t do the medium justice. The first time I dipped my toe (or pen) in to the comic medium was interviewing local bands for my 6th form magazine and putting them in to a comic format. Advice for a novice would be: don’t be scared, I guess, and just have a go. Don’t be too precious.’ Frey Harrisson, Intern.

‘Well I couldn’t quite draw, and I couldn’t quite write… but I really wanted to tell stories… I figured maybe if i put them together It might work. So I started to make comics. I guess experimentation is the key; start small and try not to worry too much about the art, the story’s the thing!’ Abraham Christie, Intern.

‘Keep it as simple as possible to start with, stripping everything down to basics – 3 panel stories, then one-page stories etc, simple grids, reduced characters – Ivan Brunetti’s compact little Cartooning book is perfect for this and I would highly, highly recommend it. You hear a lot of people saying that comics are a bit like a language – if you were learning French you’d start with basics like, greetings and transactions; I suppose you can view learning comics as learning a language – there’s so many skills and layers involved, you won’t know it all at once. I think I’m still on the Primary school/Key Stage Three of comics-wisdom.’ William Goldsmith, Intern.

‘I started out by copying animation styles and eventually found the comic counterparts, and copied those. After a few years of copying I became confident enough to come up with my own, and went from there. It was later that I actually studied illustration and developed my style enough to create comics that people would read. My advice would be to show your work to others, so that they can help you to improve. ‘ Jade Sarson, Intern.

‘Film director Tim Burton said that all children draw, but as we get older we are taught not to, and an artist is just a child who didn’t grow out of drawing. I rather think it’s the same with comics – even people who say they don’t draw or read comics probably drew picture-stories and read children’s comics too early in their lives for it to be worth remembering. So for that reason I’d say I’m not alone in that I “got started making comics”, on and off, as far back as I can remember – later drawing them secretly when I was a teenager, and finally taking an Illustration degree (with comics creation as a hidden motive!). I think there’s a certain line of thinking that says only children and “professionals” or people who are “really good at it” are allowed to draw and create. Don’t wait – you have to give yourself permission to draw, and realise that the gulf in your head between you and a “proper artist” is imaginary – and you will never close up that mental gap unless you have the audacity to begin. Don’t worry about what your comics look like – many published comickers tell their stories with great success using simple drawings – this can actually be a strength, as readers relate to it. If you have your heart set on your comics being beautiful – all the more reason to get started! Accept that your comics won’t look as perfect as you visualised when you’re just setting out, but drawing CAN be learnt – it just takes time, hard work and practice, practice, practice!’ Lily Rose-Beardshaw, Intern.