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Faith Erin Hicks

Faith Erin Hicks

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Hey all, Faith here. I’m still somewhat recovering from my final comic convention of the season, a local con in Halifax called Hal-Con. I had a very nice time at Hal-con, and got to talk to many interested folk, both readers and aspiring creators. These are my favourite type of people to talk to at conventions, as they’re all usually very interested in and enthusiastic about comics, and I get to share my own enthusiasm with them.

I had a very nice spotlight panel at Hal-con, where I got to share my work and career path with an attentive audience, and it gave me some ideas for a blog post. I got into an interesting discussion with a couple who were looking to do more with their webcomic, and one thing they asked about is finding time to make comics while still maintaining a healthy balance in your life.

The honest answer I had to give them is sometimes, if you decide you want to be serious about making comics and move past it being simply a fun thing you do for a couple hours each week, you have to give something up.

I believe in maintaining a balance in life, in making time for friends, family and exercise (as a comic maker, you’ll be sitting on your butt a lot, so it’s important to, y’know, move around occasionally), but my crazy schedule, working six days a week for long hours, doesn’t leave time for much else. So when it became obvious to me that comics were something I wanted to commit to, that I wanted to make my life’s work, I decided I had to carve everything that was not vital to my mental and physical health out of my life.

So I gave up video games.

It really sucked. I love video games. There is something about the combination of engaging gameplay and a story that tickles the happy part of my brain, and when the combination is at its most potent, like in games like Portal & Portal 2, there is something transcendent about the medium. I’ve spent hundreds of hours on games in my lifetime, and I do not regret a single minute. Some of my fondest memories are of spending 8 straight hours one Christmas break wading through the Gabriel Knight games, or staying up until 3 AM hacking my way through Vagrant Story. For a long time I very much wanted to work in gaming in a creative capacity, and made up my own Tomb Raider ripoff, although my main character had regular sized bosoms. :D

Now, I still play the occasional game, but at a much reduced pace. I probably only play 1 or 2 a year, and I tend to gravitate towards games that are two player, so that my gaming time also doubles as time with my boyfriend (we’re currently playing Rayman: Origins and Resident Evil 6). The long, solidarity hours that I used to spend gaming are now spent drawing comics.

It makes me sad, occasionally. I miss the engagement and immersion of gaming, but I can’t justify sinking 60 hours into a game when it doesn’t contribute to my development as a cartoonist. Every other “free” hour of my life is filled with sleep, my relationships and exercise, the nooks and crannies filled with what little entertainment I can slip in, like reading books, comics and the occasional movie.

Anyway, that was my choice, and what I decided would be best for me to give up, in order to develop my comic making skills to a professional level. Your life, of course, is different from mine, and if you are interested in making comics your life’s work, and need to carve the hours from your life to make it so, you might give up something completely different. But unless you’re a lottery winner and don’t need to worry about the financial end of things, something must be given up. There are just not enough hours in the day.

So what have you given up for comics?

PS. For further insight into giving things up to make a dream a reality, I suggest checking out What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami.  The book is technically about long distance running, but it’s also about changing your lifestyle in order to pursue a career, in this case, writing. I thought it had some interesting insights on the sacrifices needed to make a writer’s life possible.


Yeah, games are usually the *first* thing to go.

I’m an RPG addict, but I’ve got 2 or 3 Final Fantasy games from Christmases past that are still shrink-wrapped. I told the Mrs. it’s kind of pointless to buy me any more. The last RPG I had time to play through was FF12, and it took me almost two years to squeeze in enough time.

If… IF… I get any time to play now it’s a few minutes here and there on my iPhone, or maybe some Just Dance with the family on Kinect.

Other than that: Nada.

On a related note, I also watch very little TV and the Mrs. and I have pretty limited social lives (unless you count work-related socializing, which is still work).

Funny, though — I thought it was just because I still worked a day job, too. You mean it doesn’t get any better if you do this full-time? Heh.

Well, it does get better in that your comic output jumps considerably. You’re able to produce more comics and improve your work at a much quicker pace than if you were still working a day job. The downside is that comics don’t pay particularly well, so in order to make ends meet, you must work aallll the time. :P It’s a struggle, but one I think is worth taking on.

Disclaimer: I actually worked as a comics colorist full-time for a year or so. We were poor. Hence the day job. Ha ha.

But I always chalked that up to being just a colorist, and it being one of the lower paying comics gigs.

I can see this becoming an even more all-consuming thing should I jump to doing it full-time, because the pressure would be on to produce more to bring in more money.

We do make *some* money at this — and would make a lot more should the output increase — but with two kids and a mortgage, it’s a heck of a leap to take.

But yeah… I don’t play many video games.

Kind of the same thing with me but instead of giving up something for comics I gave up comics or specifically drawing! I’m in college now and my studies are very time consuming and I feel like I don’t really have time for hobbies that are so far away from my academic and career goals. Maybe after I find a job? MAYBE AFTER I RETIRE! And I definitely don’t play video games any more haha

But yeah I definitely agree. When you have a passion for something and you want to pursue it you can’t exactly also increase the number of hours in a day!

I gave up video games for the same reason a long time ago. I don’t really miss it, but being such a huge nerd, people are always shocked that I have no knowledge of games anymore.

I also don’t watch television. Or I watch it very sparingly. That hurt at first, but it’s kind of like giving up junk food. My brain feels healthier.

People think it is hard to be inspired without a constant influx of pop culture, but I have found the opposite to be true. I’m more inspired than ever!

P.S.- Thanks for the reminder about exercising. I need to lose some weight :/

I gave up sleep.

Or, a part of it anyway. I’m out of the house for work from 9:30 – 7pm. 7-8pm is dinner, or “make as much mess in the kitchen as possible” time. 8-10:30 is girlfriend time.

I started getting up at 6am to cram extra hours into the day for drawing. Since then I’ve pushed it back to 5:30. I’m hoping to push that back to 5 eventually. It’s really nice actually, working when my mind is freshest, when I’m least tired or distracted by anything else that’s due to come in the day. It’s a nice, peaceful block of dedicated work time.

Then, I sketch during my lunch break and, if I’m not too tired, I sketch a little after my girlfriend has gone to bed and before I join her.

It’s not ideal, but it works for me at the moment and I can normally get through one stage of a page (Pencilling, inking, flatting etc.) each morning. I’m trying to start with my first real story, once I get my head around the boundless, unfathomable mystery that is -writing-, and I’m really excited about getting it underway. I’m hoping with this routine I’ve eked out I’ll be able to pull it off :)

But yeah, I totally get how you feel about video games. I never made a conscious decision to give them up, they just kind of drifted out of my life as I realised I felt more and more guilty each time I played them as I knew I could be using the time more constructively. I still play them now and then but, like you, it’s a joint activity with my girlfriend.

Yeah, time for sure becomes an incredibly valuable asset once you decide to make comics with any regularity. I don’t know that I’ve really “given up” movies and TV since I’ve never really been that into either, but I find that that’s what gives me the space I need to squeeze in comics-making–particularly since, unlike my last project, my current thing is being done 100% on my own time rather than with an advance.

I know I come off like a hard-ass, but when people (especially students) tell me they don’t have time to do draw regularly, I usually tell them that they likely DO have time; they just CHOOSE to do something else with it. And that’s totally OK. I’d love to know what the hell “Breaking Bad” is or have a video game system… but what I want more than that is to get my comics done and to be able to draw regularly in my sketchbook

Yeah. It’s rough to communicate that art careers (speaking from experience, maybe law or science careers are the same, I dunno) require going above and beyond when it comes to time commitment. I think sometimes that behavior can be learned. I really didn’t start working as hard as I should on my art until I got to college, so I try not to be hard on dreamy high school kids who think comics would be a super fun career. But yeah, at some point, you gotta make a choice: leisure time or art?

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