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Doug TenNapel, independent comics creator, is an inspiration to me in many ways.  He has a fun, accessible art style that is dramatic and fresh.  His story telling is always askew in the best of ways.  I don't think I've read one of his graphic novels without having some smiles and a surprise or two along the way.  On top of that, he is outspoken about almost everything in his life.  (I think of him as the Rush Limbaugh of comics- oh man, that sounds really bad, but early Rush, not present day Rush, if that helps.)  I agree with most things he states on Facebook.  BUT- the thing I am most inspired about him is his drive (in the old days we would call that "work ethic").  The guy does NOT give up.  Because of that, he single-handedly will put out a new graphic novel a year.  While creating a webcomic.  While pitching new TV show development ideas in Hollywood.  While running a half marathon.  While working freelance jobs.  While raising tons of kids.  While serving his faith also.  SO, when a guy like that gets asked "how do I find the time to create my dream comic book idea"- you listen to the answer.  I do.  I saw a posting he put up on his blog and it inspired me to keep focus.  So much so, that I wanted to share it here.  This applies to anyone with a dream project/ job you want.  

Doug TenNapel – On Comics

Question:  I've wanted to create a graphic novel using my own characters since I was 13. At 37 it's still on my someday/sometime list. Now, with 2 kids and one on the way, it seems extremely unlikely, but given your advice, I think I'll try to commit a small portion of time during the week and just get it started. Any advice on using small portions of time during your day to make progress on your story? I feel like it takes me a long time to warm up creatively.

Answer: Small increments are your friend. Commit to 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week for a year and you'll be a more prolific comic artist, piano player, or carpenter than most others who long to do the same. The key is in the longevity of your commitment, not in the amount of time you are committing. Set aside 20 minutes a day, preferably in the morning before work, and only work on your graphic novel. Do this for a year and you'll start seeing profound results.

The problem is that we aren't used to seeing our art as a craft or a skill that needs practice and discipline, not inspiration and feelings. On any given day my feelings come and go about my faith, my commitment to my marriage, my place in the world, my sanity, my desire to draw or not draw, my care about you as a person, but my values do not change. Try to find the values-shaped handles on your art, not your feelings. Tell me that you will commit to it, that you will simply do it regardless of how you feel about it and you'll accomplish a lot over time.

The ant is stupid. He has one millionth of your intelligence at best but moves one grain of sand until it is placed at its destination. Ants rework the whole world. The little termite can completely dismantle your house, not because of his passion, but because of his tedious, regular work at small, repeatable tasks. If you want to do something big, then the ant's way is one good way to try.
  • Listening to: pandora
  • Reading: Invincible
  • Watching: Modern Family
  • Playing: by writing this journal
  • Eating: too, too much.
  • Drinking: afternoon coffee
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JDoodleFevar Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Really Great conversation. Thanks for sharing ^,^
twinkletinker Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2012   General Artist
Very true! Thanks for sharing... just what I needed to read right now.
KIRKparrish Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks Tom! And by the way, it was great to finally meet you and your brother at CTN. I sat in on your guys' seminar, which was extremely entertaining and insightful -- just too bad it got cut short. Many thanks for taking the time!
tombancroft Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2012  Professional Filmographer
Thanks for coming to our talk! THat's cool. I'm not sure if they taped it or not, but I hope we see it pop up somewhere someday! It was fun.
MagicPeterPan Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Miss-Melis Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012   General Artist
that is such a great way of looking at things! You are very right Tom, this is very inspiring!
mphelps Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
Wow. This is just what I needed to be told. It is so simple yet profound. Thank you so much for posting this. Now I need to look up this Doug TenNapel and start comiting that 20 minutes.
Wavedrake Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Dear heavens this journal is dripping with wisdom, thank you for sharing! *goes and sketches a bit more every day* 8v
AZTECH2009 Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I picked up Ghostopolis, Bad Island, & Iron West at the local library and I loved them so much I got copies for myself. Hopefully I'll own his entire collection of books. He has such a way of drawing emotion with out the use of words its almost reads like a film.
misora-hunter Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow... I feel kind of silly now.
Thank you.
joshuaotero Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Printed and Posted on my wall. I may make this a poster. Just words, no graphics to distract.
tyendor Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012
Great post. I will take this to heart.
Kolokino Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012
This is really good advice. And it is true that I'm not used to seeing my art as important. For classes in high school this year, it came down to two options: take geometry class (you only need 2 years of math to graduate, and I already took 2 years), or take advanced art class. There wasn't enough room in my schedule to take both, so I took art. People kept telling me that was really bad and asked me "Well what's more important, math or art? What do colleges like more?" Well the type of college I want to go to likes art more, and art is more important to my animation than geometry. I still have teachers who tell me it's a waste of time. Being an artist is tough in our society.
OldschoolCartoons Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Student Filmographer
That is the best advice I have heard I am not good at commit to my personal works because of my feelings and laziness. But now, it made perfect sense and see to it during the holiday break.

thank for this journal advice.
therealGeorgieBoy Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Student Filmographer
2POPE Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Professional General Artist
How very true! Thank you for sharing!
JP-Causewell Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012
Tear down your notions like a termite and build anew like an ant!
ChibiBug Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012
Absolutely brilliant! I'll be taking this advice to heart.
Carol-Lizzy Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Student General Artist
Just a few minutes before I read this, I was literally, LITERALLY thinking about how I don't know if I can EVER create a comic. It's been my lament lately. But now.... I'm going to go work on it right away!:)
Thank you for sharing this!
Bbedlam Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Really nice post. Stole it and reposted it my facebook page for my comic creating friends to read.
sketchsurfer Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012
Nice! Like it!

PS: "Eating: too, too much." <--- =D ahaha! know the feelin'
Saria29 Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Hrm it's always hard to remember this.
Calick Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow, this almost gave me an epiphany
megalaros Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012
Fantastic advice. I'm just figuring out that "90% perspiration" part. Now off to draw!
Kravenous Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012
thanks for posting this
tombancroft Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Professional Filmographer
You're welcome!
nfergason Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012
Got to say this really helped re- lit my drive to keep moving forward. Thank you!
SethBlizzard Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012
Thanks, you have no idea how much it lifts my spirit to read this.
frantik Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I learned something really important while I was studying animation.

Young artists like myself have this mindset that we can only improve and succeed if we land the professional comic, art or animation job. Michael Jantze (another awesome comic creator and artist) taught me that we make the mistake of thinking that if I HAVE the job, I get to DO the work and I get to BE an artist.

We have it backwards.

We have to BE the artist and DO the work and then we get to HAVE the career.

Don't ask for permission to be an artist just go out and do it. Find the way through your work.

Be, Do, Have
ThunderMatt77 Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Student Interface Designer
i'm glad i just learned the same thing at 30!
i never really wanted to work for another company.
i want to do my own thing!
tombancroft Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Professional Filmographer
Great addition to the discussion, thanks! Michael Jantze is great. Just spoke with him the other day.
Kravenous Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012
took me 20 years to learn this, yo kids learn this lesson you won't regret it
Kanduli Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
One game at a time.
GigaMach Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012
Good stuff.
Valentine345 Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
what's wrong?
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Submitted on
December 8, 2012


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