I’ve been drawing journal comics, or autobiographical comics, for years.
I started long before I drew with cute, Sunday cartoon looking characters. Before this website got its facelift. Before I even had omgnikki.com. And, honestly… before I could even draw well.
You see, the reason why I started drawing journal comics in the first place was so I could learn how to draw comics. It’s the best way to practice for any cartooning beginner. And it’s much easier to have content ready to go if you draw from events of your life, especially if they are recent and stick out in your mind. Otherwise you might end up staring at a blank page and wondering, “What should I even draw?!”
So if you are an aspiring comic book artist or cartoonist, a doodler, or even someone who wants to keep a unique journal, journal comics are your best starting point.
Where do I start?
I always start off by cataloging recent events in my life just by writing them in a notebook. Whatever sticks out in your mind is important to you as a person, as surely deserves a spot in your journal comic.
Sometimes, when I revisit my notes, I realize something I wrote down isn’t important to me anymore or even that my idea wasn’t any good. Nothing wrong with skipping some notes and moving on to the good content!
What style should I draw with? What format do I choose?
These are things you’ll have to play around with. One thing to keep in mind about your journal comic- not every strip is going to look good. And that’s okay because, that’s the point! It’s all about experimentation. No sweat if you try out drawing super realistic, and then decide to go for a very graphic look. Or even just stick figures. This is your chance to try it all!
Same with format- maybe you start off drawing horizontal comic strips, and you decide you want more space so you can switch over to a manga sized page. If you want to start a webcomic of your own, consider what sizes are easily readable on computers and other devices.
Oh my gosh, my art looks horrible!
Well, you just started your journal comic, didn’t you? I’ll let you in on a secret… My art looked horrible too. I cringe looking back on my first little mini-comic that I ever made. But in order to get better, you need to practice, practice, practice! Plus, it’s pretty fun re-reading my old journal comics because, despite my earlier ones looking not-so-great, they are still precious to me because they hold memories of my life. And that certainly makes your efforts even more worth while.
Public or Private?
When making journal comics, it’s really easy to get super personal without intending to. This is why you should consider the purpose of your journal comic.
If you want to share it one day, try to just focus on special moments of your life that others can relate to. If you draw something that isn’t very nice about someone, they’ll find out. Trust me. If you want to have it be more of an actual journal, then feel free to vent all you want. You’ll probably feel even less restricted art-style wise if you keep your journal comic personal.
Whichever path you choose, journal comics are a great way to practice how to draw comics. Plus, there’s no right or wrong way to go about it. I’ll be posting more articles about drawing journal comics, so stay tuned!