Swift Spark Blog Post #2: Trial and Error

I just titled this “2” right now, as I really just want to write these as diary entries – just thoughts on paper. I’ll worry about a title later.

I guess this time I want to talk a little about Swift Spark’s early days. I already did in the previous post, but that was mostly about the pre-Swift Spark early days. It took me quite a while to find my footing in the realm of webcomics. I was inspired by Ava’s Demon, which by now spans thousands of pages, with (back when I was following it) if I remember correctly, each chapter separated by an animated / semi-animated short bit.

If you were around in 2017/2018, you might have noticed I occasionally tried to animate elements of the webcomic as well. I ended up stopping this as I realized I wanted to produce a print version of the comic at one point, and I didn’t know how to incorporate any pages I’d end up animating.

It also didn’t… look very good back then, quite honestly. Not that I let that stop me, but ultimately, the amount of effort compared to the quality of output wasn’t weighing up against one another for it to be worth it.

I started posting the comic on Tumblr and DeviantART, right around the time when those websites started dying. So… ComicFury became its new home! It never got massive traction, but managed to gather what I still think to be a respectable 51.4k visitors and 172.5k pages viewed to date.

Around the time I started making the move towards an animated series, I started posting to Webtoons, Instagram and Twitter, and got the series as a whole its own website.

So all in all, the comic’s never had one definitive home.

The comic changed art styles a couple of times, as I was a teenager still developing my art skills. And as high school progressed, production slowed down quite a bit for a while.

But in the end, I got it done, and I’m proud for finishing it. It’s about a year since I did, and whilst I can’t say I miss doing comics full-time, I’ll be pumping out a comic version of the pilot after I finish animating. You know, merchandising and marketing purposes and all that.

It took me a while to find my footing in comic making, and by the time I had it down to a formula, I was looking to broaden my horizon. By the time 2019 rolled around, I was starting to make headway to alter the “Around the Corner” art style to be better fit for animation. Until then, my characters had always had reasonably realistic proportions, with some exaggerated features. This is where I started trying to make their looks far more distinct, with the more exaggerated head shapes, simplified hair styles – it’s also when James permanently lost his freckles, although for the comic I’d already done away with those by the 2nditeration.

For the next 3 years, I’d continue to develop what I hope is now a distinct visual identity for Swift Spark – far more distinct than it was back in 2016, at least.

Though animation and art styles do tend to keep evolving throughout a show’s production – minor changes and polishes are made, and I think Swift Spark will be much the same. Our pilot may be (mostly) out now, but I have a feeling the final episode will look different when we get to it.

When… if… I don’t know, really. It’s been tough. After the pilot, I don’t know what else I can do to convince folks the show is worth supporting. I make just about minimum wage each month, and my dad’s selling the home we’re living in by the end of next year – meaning the financial wiggle room I have right now to keep funding Swift Spark will be dwindling quickly.

I understand the world is in a bad place right now, and the fact that I’m making minimum wage off my art is already something that should be considered a privilege. I’ll continue working on the show for as long as my finances and SAG-AFTRA will allow (I’m not sure if they’ll give me another contract if it’s just for one more episode, but that’s something we’ll have to discuss after the strike ends).

At the moment, I’m just enjoying writing… re-writing? Swift Spark’s story and episodes. The plot of the original comic is something I find slightly dissatisfying, so there’s a decent chance things will be different in the show compared to its origin. But that’s the beauty of art in my opinion – it’s always evolving.

After all, the original plot was written when I was a teenager, and I’m approaching my mid-twenties now. Stuff was bound to change.

Animation’s a tough business, and being an indie creator only makes it tougher. Still, I’m grateful that I’ve been able to explore the industry this far, and I can only hope I’ll make it further.

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Swift Spark Blog #1: It Started Somewhere

A while back I expressed my interest in writing a diary-like series of blogs, going through my thoughts and feelings from my years developing Swift Spark. Things have
gone incredibly fast since 2016, all things considered. Three years ago, I
never would’ve imagined I would have animated an entire pilot episode by myself.
I still have a long way to go in my career, but even the prospects of it
getting picked up this fall are making me giddy like the kid I was when I
started this journey. But that’s for a different blog post!

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Creator Entitlement

Creating something is scary, and I get the frustration that comes with getting ignored as a beginner in favour of the shiny, professional productions. But don't let the silence discourage you. In fact, as a beginner, it's better to get 'ignored' rather than become famous overnight, as if you fail to meet people's perceived standards, there's one thing they're good at - spewing hate.

It's better to work on something quietly, in your own little space, where you and your project can grow together, rather than to be thrown into the limelight before you're ready and to be torn apart by the lions of the internet.

And as for the "well Yoda said" crowd - Yoda was telling Luke to work hard so he could eventually get his X-wing out of the water, or to stay certain he couldn't do it & just leave it there. Luke wasn't even trying, he was just saying "I can't do that, that's impossible". If you start off with that mindset, it's already over.

"You must unlearn what you've learned" - you must rid yourself of the mindset that you can't do it. You can't half-ass something, assuming you'll fail anyway, and then say "well, told you - I tried." No, you didn't.

You have to give it your everything, your best shot, and... probably fail. And then try again, and fail again. And again. Until you succeed.

You can try and fail, or you can try (and keep trying) and succeed. And even if you still fail after a hundred attempts, that's okay. It's the mindset that matters.

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