So far in my comics-making career, I have completed 3 and a half minis (I say half because one is a very teeny mini). I have to give credit to Tom Spurgeon for his great instructions which I followed while making my first mini (Pancakes). If you’re just getting started, I would definitely recommend looking through his instructions, they are simple and helpful and make it that much easier to just f-ing DO IT.
I really think that one of the hardest parts about making something like this is, well, first of all, just doing it, but second of all, putting your work out there for other people to see. It is really hard (at least it was for me) the first time because you are doing something totally on your own volition with your own hands, from start to finish and just hoping that someone other than your mother will find some merit in it.
When I make my minis, I really enjoy feedback. Some people may not want this, but I think it is really important. It is even better if the feedback comes from total strangers. This was big to me, especially when I made my first one, because I wanted to see if my work could stand on its own in someone’s eyes who had never met me or known anything about me other than what they were holding in their hands.
My personal philosophy is to get as many people to read your stuff as possible. Good reviews are awesome and can really bolster your confidence to make another book. Bad reviews suck…at first. Every time I get a review that says I have no business holding a pen or stapling paper together I get mad and sad and destroy my computer and everything in my apartment. Just kidding. That would be expensive.
But seriously, it does hurt, but it’s easier once you remember that this person just took the time to sit down and read something that you made, and even if they hated it and think you are a stupid, navel-gazing chump, you got their full attention for a little bit of time. And I have to say, the very concept of self-made mini comics getting reviews of ANY kind, that's pretty awesome. When you think about it, when else can you really do something, create something, and NO ONE can stop you from drawing, saying, printing, whatever you want? You don’t have a publisher asking you to change the drawing on page three because they think it’s awful or to change a dialogue because it doesn’t make sense that the cat is all of a sudden talking. This is what I think is SO SO SO amazing about mini comics. You can truly find your own voice through drawings and words and you have no one to convince but yourself.
If I could say one thing about making minis it is this: make one. Oh, also, don’t stop yourself from trying everything you think of just because you think it might be weird or out there or unconventional or super conventional. And also, read Tom Spurgeon’s directions. And also, copies are expensive, be prepared. And also, get a long-armed stapler if you can, they are awesome. So I retract the first part of the first sentence in this paragraph and would like to change it to: “If I could say five things about mini comics…”
In closing, please make a mini comic, even if you just plan to keep it in your pillowcase and read it over and over to laugh at your own jokes like a crazy person when no one is home. Or if you’re not in that sort of mood, buy some of mine. Just kidding! (Haha! Not really, go buy one.)
Lauren Barnett is a comic artist, illustrator and graphic designer living and working in Brooklyn NY. She has self-published three mini comics (I'd Sure Like Some F@*#ing Pancakes, A Story About Fish, and Secret Weirdo and soon Was That Supposed to be Funny?). Her minis have been reviewed by The Comics Journal, Poopsheet Foundation, Midnight Fiction, Optical Sloth, Write Club, and others.
She also has a daily comics blog with mostly one-cell gags at melikesyou.blogspot.com. She has shown her work at The Life Café Salon in Bushwick, Brooklyn; Phoebe’s in Williamsburg and will have a show at Gimme Coffee in Brooklyn in October 2010.
Her work has been published in the L Magazine's Comix issue (2008) and she has work on Top Shelf's website. She will have a half table at this year’s MoCCA festival in April, so stop by and say hi!!
Oh, and PS: you can purchase her minis at her Etsy shop or at the fine retail shops listed on her blog!