Sept132020: Balancing Research with Making

“Hi Reimena, I was wondering how you balance research with making comics. Do you ever have to stop making comics, to do more research? How do you know when you have enough? I worry about getting lost in research, instead of producing work. I appreciate any answer you can give, thank you. 🙂”

So the way I work is that I do the majority of the heavy research before and during the writing of the script. Afterwards I switch to doing art history research and lighter research as I draw. For me, all of the stages involved in producing pages (thumbnails, sketches, inks, colours, etc) are energy-draining and labour-intensive, so I always make sure I have a pretty solid, confident story before proceeding.

As for being lost in research, I think it helps to be more focused, organised and intentional in the scope and purpose of what you are doing. Know who and what your subject matter is, what your POV and message are, understand the questions you as an author want to address – and stick with those. You only need to know enough to make progress on your story.

As for knowing when you have enough:
This is a topic I once discussed with my consultant, and we both agreed that: you don’t. You don’t know when to end your research because the truth is, it is endless. There will always be new debates and perspectives, new books to read, old books to read. Sooner or later, you’ll have to stop waiting and start making your book, or you’ll die first from misfortune or old age in pursuit of perfection or completeness .Instead of worrying and viewing your work as the Epitome, learn to trust yourself and view your work as a continuation of a past and present. Imagine that your research subject is a ladder, and all of its books are steps. Your work is one of these steps. Your work belongs in a context. Once you embrace your context and goals of your project, you’ll know when to take that leap of faith.

Reimena Yee is a graphic novelist, artist and flamingo enthusiast.

She writes and illustrates quite a few webcomics and graphic novels. When not making books, she lulls away her time with essays on craft, life and experiences in the publishing industry. Some of her thoughts of art and life are rather unstructured and will evolve over time as this blog matures, as they should be.

Currently committed to being Alexander the Great's death doula. Is a nerd for all things spooky and historical.

Melbourne / Kuala Lumpur

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