Once I was sitting at a convention table promoting That Which Wills, the first story of which being outright gay erotica. Sometimes when guys pick it up they either put it down straightaway like their hands have been burned, or act like they’re holding a baby upside down. Then up comes the biggest dudebro to ever dudebro with his dudebro friend, and my expectations were very low when they picked up the book.
"Oh, hello!" He starts laughing when he turns to one of the sexier pages. "They look like they’re having fun." And proceeds to keep reading.
His friend rolls his eyes and comments he didn’t know mr dudebro was into that sort of thing, to which dudebro snorts back. “Why do I have to be into anything? Gay people exist in real life so it makes fucking sense they should exist in stories, dude?”
He ended up reading half of the book, chatted happily with me about the characters, bought it, shook my hand, and went on his merry way.
It’s something I remember from time to time because it’s an example of how uncomplicated it should really be.
Oh hey, this is something I think a lot about, actually! So when I started making comics (15 years ago this month, haha), I was really terrible at drawing. And I wanted to do, y’know, GRAPHIC NOVELS, with fairly realistically drawn characters and backgrounds and things that are hard to draw. Things that I didn’t really have the skills to draw at the time. So I’d draw my comics and the art was generally pretty terrible. But I was comfortable with writing, and that helped me keep going with making comics, because I enjoyed the storytelling aspect of them so much.
It’s hard when you feel pretty okay about your writing but your art doesn’t measure up. I kind of feel like my art still doesn’t measure up to what I want it to be (mostly right now I want it to be Hiromu Arakawa, which will never happen, no matter how much I practice), but I’m very comfortable with the writing part of comics, so I look at that as my great strength in my work. It makes up for where my art is lacking, and I work hard at writing to make the sum total of my work better than if I was just writing or just drawing.
I mean, the absolute best thing about comics (to me) is that you don’t need to be a spectacular artist to make really great, involving comics. I’m not an amazing technical artist. During my down times, I don’t draw gorgeous illustrations or do amazing paintings (I kind of dislike doing that kind of thing, to be honest). I will never be Gillian Tamaki. But I’m good at storytelling, and I’m good at interpreting emotion and drawing that on the comic page. So I work to my strengths, which is making stories about engaging characters, and laying out scenes where there is a lot of emotion running through them, and people who like my comics don’t seem to mind that my art is not as great as Gillian Tamaki or Hiromu Arakawa.
Comics aren’t just art or just writing, they’re the two combined to make something new and wonderful. They are more than the sum of their parts. So work hard to because a decent artist with a good grasp of storytelling basics (this is super important!), and work harder to become a truly excellent writer and storyteller, and you can quite possibly make great comics! It worked for me. :)
This describes my experience almost exactly.