Permission to suck

As I’ve continued to ponder the “Community-driven comic book“, I’ve been forced to confront once again the creative person’s greatest foe — the fear of sucking. People talk about various artists being “courageous” and I always that that was a load of steaming horse puckey. And believe me, living in Texas with four horses and seven donkeys, I know me some horse puckey.

But there’s certainly a nugget of truth there. When you’re trying something you haven’t done before, I think the fear of failure, of being really bad at it, is the biggest obstacle to actually getting it done. People might laugh, you might be exposed as a fraud, you might find out (as so many aspiring singers do on “American Idol”) that you aren’t any good at something you thought was your strong suit.

What most people forget, though, is that all of the greats in history have been failures at many points in their lives. Edison had many, many more failed inventions than he did light bulbs. To succeed, you have to give yourself permission to suck. You aren’t going to be the best right out of the gate, but hopefully you’ll improve over time, eventually getting to the point where you don’t suck any more.

You’re definitely going to suck for a while, though, and that’s pretty intimidating.

So that’s sort of where I am on this whole thing. I’ve done illustrations for gaming products before, I’ve gotten paid for drawing, and I’ve put together a successful Internet product, and I sucked at all of them in the beginning. I’ve sucked at every job I’ve ever had, at least at the beginning. Eventually I got better, but I really hate sucking. Hate it. It brings up all of the feelings of being a failure from childhood, of being judged as lacking by friends and family, of making me question my value as a human being.

And the fact is, I don’t know how to put together a good comic. I don’t know how to ink a whole page of different panels so they work well together, or maybe even how to craft a successful single panel. I don’t know how to pace a plot in sequential art, and I don’t know how to remain consistent throughout a story. All of that would be completely new to me, and I’m almost definitely going to suck at all of it. At once. On the same page, there will be multiple avenues of suckage.

So the first thing to do, before I even start down the road, is to decide to give myself permission to suck. Because success isn’t an option unless the failure is, too. I’ll let you know if and when I get there.

About Jeff Hebert

Jeff is a 45 year old city boy who has somehow found himself located in Colorado, fulfilling his lifetime dream of making a living drawing super-heroes all day.

7 Responses to Permission to suck

  1. Ashton Thomas

    I think if everyone that used the here machine blog put all of our suckieness together in order to create a comic book, it might actually be a really good one.

    Think of it this way…

    10/10 = a good comic book.
    1/10 = our ability to make a good comic book.
    25 = about how many active users are on here.

    1/10×25 = 25/10 = an awesome comic book!

    Get it?

  2. That’s funny, Ashton!

  3. It would multiple pages of stick figure awesomeness….

  4. Ashton Thomas

    So are we going to do it or not?

  5. From the last line it will probably happen but not any time to soon.

  6. No, I’m definitely considering it strongly, but I have a meeting on Monday with UGO to talk about priorities, so until that happens it’s hard for me to know how much time I’m actually going to have. Plus, I am still thinking through how it would work, etc.

    I might try a real “improv” type of thing on Monday, though, instead of the Mashup, as a warm-up. Maybe have five different categories of things to vote on, and I have to incorporate the winners into a comic strip/book story.

  7. Ashton Thomas

    This is going to be freakin’ epic!