If you’re reading this in early January, Happy New Year! This is the perfect time for you, fellow creator, to set some goals for the upcoming calendar year.
This is not your standard New Year’s Resolution. This is goal setting for you to meet important milestones in your comic book career. You can be a working comic book professional, the next generation of comics pros, or just someone who wants to make comics for personal reasons. Goals are important for your creative and professional growth.
Interpret these goals for the type of comic book creator you are or for the kind you hope to become. It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer, artist, inker, letterer, editor, or production person; modify your goals accordingly.
And, as many of you know, I am also a comic book creator. These are the goals that I have set for myself. I’ll be personalizing them, as I expect you will personalize your own. It’s a good idea to document your goals, print them, and refer to them to plot your own progress. I’ll leave the comments section unlocked, so you can add suggestions or declare your goals.
10 Goals for Comic Creators Planning the Upcoming Year
10. Read at Least Two New Comic Titles from Different Publishers
This year, commit to reading a two additional comic titles each month. Support your local comic shop and try something new. Try things from different publishers. If you’re a Marvel, DC, Image reader, pick something up from some of the other publishers to see what kind of creative work is being put on the stands. Not only will you be more aware of industry trends, you will be supporting the ecosystem that we need to have a healthy publishing industry. Need some ideas? Check out the comic book publisher submissions guidelines section to see a large, ongoing list of publishers.
9. Read One Non Comic Book Per Month
This year, read more books and magazines. Commit to other forms of content to nourish your brain. If possible, try to read at least one book per month. It could be fiction, non fiction, or even long form magazine articles. The words you consume will feed you as a creative person. I’ve been using Goodreads to discover authors and books. You can follow me on Goodreads to see what I am reading and to suggest titles for me to read.
8. Carry a Small Notebook
This year, carry a notebook of some sort to capture your ideas. I favor print notebooks and pencils. If I go out, I usually keep one in the car. Of course, sometimes it’s not convenient to carry a notebook, so find a good app for your smartphone. I have tried a few different apps, including Evernote, Google Keep, and OneNote. While each is good, I’ve found that OneNote works best for me.
7. Find Two Creative Partners or a Workgroup
This year, find at least two creative partners who will listen to your ideas and share their own creative work. Last year, I started attending creative writing meetings that I found through Meetup. I attended a few different meetings and have found two writers who read my work and offer detailed creative feedback. I do the same for them. I find it helps to have someone who’s expecting to deliver something new for them to read.
My writing group started meeting each week, but we’ve switched to about once per month. Small groups work best for me, since I don’t have the time for all of the pre reading required to be a productive member. Your mileage may vary.
I’ll be finding another workgroup to get exposure to more creators, not just writers.
6. Update Your Creative Tools
This year, update some of the tools in your creative toolbox. Invest money to update the tools you use to create. For writers, it may mean updating your software or hardware. For artists, it may also mean new software or new art supplies. There’s something inspiring about opening new tools that makes you want to work.
Invest in your tools in a strategic and specific way. The tools you purchase for your career in comics may be tax deductible, so check with a professional accountant for the details. You don’t have to spend major money to invest, but make a point to spend something on your personal and professional creativity. It will make you want to get back to work.
5. Complete Your Portion a Project Each Quarter
This year, complete something in a project each quarter. Writers, finish a script every three months. Artists, complete enough work to reach a milestone. If you’re working on a standard-size comic, that usually means between 20-22 pages of creative work. It may not sound like a lot, but you know how challenging this can be.
Look back on your output from last year. Did you complete at least one milestone each quarter? If not, this is the time to mark your calendar and set some goals.
Literally open the calendar software that you use and mark down a milestone on March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31. I use Google Calendar because it works well with my life and on my Android. I have already set reminders 2 weeks and 1 week in advance of those dates to remind myself that I have to hit milestones. You may want to do the same.
4. Attend Three Live Comic Events
This year, attend at least three comic book conventions or other live comic book events. I recommend attending one big convention and two smaller comic shows. Going to large and small shows will help you connect with publishers, fellow creators, and with dealers. You can go to network, attend panels, or just to shop, but get out there.
It’s okay to bring a friend, but be clear on why you are going as a comic book creator. Make sure you plan your con experience according to your personal and professional goals. If you have to go alone, do it. It may actually free you up to attend panels and network with fellow creators and publishers. If you already plan to have a table at a show, be sure to stand up and walk around to experience the show.
3. Get More Exercise
This year, get up, stretch, move around, and get some exercise. Creating comics usually requires sitting. It’s easy to slip into unhealthy habits. If you’ve been working hard on your craft, you’re probably not moving a lot. Sitting too long can be bad for your health. Being able to chain yourself to your desk for long periods of time may make your editor happy, but won’t make your cardiologist happy.
Exercise means different things to different people. Want to watch Netflix? Put a treadmill or exercise bike in front of the television. Walk around the block a few times. Join a gym. Do something for your health because there is a connection between mind and body.
2. Develop Your Personal Corner of the Internet
This year, build up your professional Internet presence. It may be on social media, on a portfolio website, or on your own personal blog. If you are going to creating a commercial product, people will be looking you up. You need a place where people can discover you and the kinds of comics that you create. Showcase what you do and enable people to have an online conversation with you. Interact as a professional to fans and other professionals.
If you provide a creative service like lettering or coloring, this is especially important because you need to be able to showcase your work. Look around at what other creators have shared and determine exactly what you need. It doesn’t always have be expensive or elaborate. Sometimes you just need to stake out your own personal corner of the Internet, so people know where to learn more about you and your work.
1. Be More Positive about Your Work
This year, be more positive about the comics you create. Yes, there are major issues in politics, life, and in the comic book industry that require your attention. Some of these issues may have touched you directly, which can make it hard to stay focused and positive about the world outside your window.
Channel your positive and negative energy into the work. Get it on the page. There is power in anger and frustration, but that same energy can also drain your creativity. Negativity can demotivate you and slow you creative output. I’m not suggesting that you stop engaging in the national dialogue or not be part of the issues that affect us here in comics. Not at all.
I am asking you to be positive about the work you create in comics. You can make a difference, but you have to complete your ideas. You have to deliver the work and get it into the hands of readers. Be positive about your work in a way that leads to completed products. Don’t let frustrations and setbacks keep you from your goals or question the creative value of your work.
There will always be barriers to your success, but you can’t let those things stop you. You must succeed and you can only do that with a positive, can-do attitude about the work you create.
Be positive about your creativity and the contributions you bring to sequential storytelling. Be positive that the work you create today will get better, if you continue to pursue excellence. Be positive that you will reach your audience, no matter how large or small. Be positive that what you do matters and that your comics are worth completing.
Let’s Do This Together
I hope you find this list useful and inspirational. It’s as much for my career as a creator as it is for you. Please add some of your positive, encouraging ideas in the comments section below.
Happy New Year!