Sunday, February 19, 2017

Intro to Comic Craft: Step by Step: Soliciting and Using Critique

  • Select a Group You Trust
  1. And don't kid yourself about who you trust.  Actually pick people who's opinions you respect, because if they say harsh things, you don't want to automatically brush that off.
  2. Sometimes the artists whose work you admire are not the artists most qualified to critique your work- they may have difficulty articulating issues, they may be dismissive, they may find it difficult to find suggestions for early-stage issues. 
  3. It helps to select people from a variety of backgrounds- not only creators of different types of comics, but people from other walks of life.
  • Send files out early-early stage revisions (synopsis, script, thumbs) are the least painful to make, as they're the easiest on your part.
  • Learn to critique your own work and catch mistakes- make notes on your thumbnails of things you personally want to change.
  1. Speaking from personal experience, if you can make notes of your mistakes early and available, you'll generally get better critique from your critique group.
  2. They're able to focus on other issues, rather than those most obvious.
  • If someone is reading your thumbs in person, colored leads for notes can be helpful, or providing print outs that they can mark up may lead to really insightful critique.  Colored pens are also good.
  • Upload your files somewhere that everyone can easily access- I use Google Drive, and make sure you enable access
  1. If you're working on a large project, setting up a Trello board can be helpful to make sure everyone is on track, and to keep track of what people have done.
  2. Google Docs allows users to make comments, and keeps everything organized in one place.
  • When discussing the critique, be open minded, take copious notes (I copy out relevant segments of the conversation for my later reference), and DONT take it personally!
  • If you don't understand something, it's ok to ask for clarification.
  • It's also ok to ask for suggestions on how to handle things better.  Sometimes people forget to provide alternatives.
  • Don't just write down the negative, make sure you write down what worked for them as well.  By the time you get around to making corrections, you will have forgotten the positive, and will only be left with a list of what doesn't work.  With this sort of list, its very easy to become discouraged.
  • Don't try to make corrections right away- sleep on it, and let your brain solve the problems for you while you're dreaming.
  • Be gracious, thank them for their time, regardless of how you personally feel.  You may be a little tender right now, but after a couple nights' sleep, you may realize that they were spot on.
  • Keep in mind that these people are doing you a favor- they want your work to be the best it can be.  If you've selected your group carefully and honestly, then you know that even negative criticism is meant to help you grow.
  • Make sure you're available to beta read for them in return.

When using groups for critique:
  • I've found that if three people say the same thing independently, it tends to be true and needs addressing.
  • If there's conflicting opinions, press for more information so you can gain a better understanding of the conflict.