Social Media for Young Cartoonists: Wrap-Up

This is part ten of an ongoing project by the DW-WP interns Hilary Allison and JP Kim.  This summer, we pulled out all the “social media” stops to get our work seen and our names out.  It was an experiment, and we documented every step… so YOU can learn from our successes and failures.  Read Week 1 here.

Hoo boy.  Social Media for Young Cartoonists.  We kept it up for nine articles… and nine intense weeks of researching, experimenting, goal-setting, (goal-missing and  goal-reaching), coding, uploading, updating, tweeting, commenting,and collaborating.

Then what?  No continuation… no conclusion… not even a note goodbye?

Hilary here to confess: We dropped the ball.  And dropping the ball was, ehem, part of the learning experience.

The Pitfalls of Collaboration

So, my partner gradually lost interest in the project, or became too busy with other priorities.  He eventually stopped writing all together.  I knew JP was having a hard summer… He had just dropped out of school, moved back to Philadelphia and started a new job as a door-to-door salesman… But I hadn’t expected him to disappear.

The prospect of continuing the series by myself proved extremely demotivating.  I felt somewhat betrayed.  (“We were supposed to be in this together!”)  Somewhat indignant.  (“I’m having a rough time too, damn it!  Taking classes and interning!  And moving and finding roommates!”)

Now I know… This is nature of collaboration.  There is no guarantee that your partners will share your level of enthusiasm, dedication, or ability to devote time to a project.  You can’t expect them to (especially when there’s no money or contract involved).  They’re not you.  They have their own priorities, and their own crazy hectic lives.

Don’t get me wrong, collaboration can be great.  Ideas, multiplied!  (But also, shit-that-happens, multiplied.)  Effort, multiplied!  (But say the output goal between two collaborators is “4,” and each collaborator carries an effort value of “2.”  Lose a collaborator, and goal can’t be met.)

All the while, I watched Jessica struggle with strikingly similar problems of her own.  Apparently, the same collaboration pitfalls affect aspiring cartoonists and professional graphic novelists alike, delaying projects and stiffening friendships.

Her solution was to take on the entire project herself… writing AND drawing her upcoming graphic novel.

I COULD have continued the Social Media Project on my own.  I COULD have.  But I didn’t.  So half the blame is on me for its discontinuation.

The Pitfalls of Life + Social Media

Social Media is demanding.  All the time.  You’ve gotta stay consistent to keep an audience.  You’ve gotta update to stay in the feed.

Life, on the other hand, is unpredictable.  Computers break.  Grandmothers get sick.  Partnerships fail.

We have tools with which to feign total control (auto-posting, for instance), but at a certain point, the state of our offline lives shows through.  We’re imperfect and exposed.

I’m quite happy with this realization, that social media exposes us.  So often, strategies of self-promotion require faking it.  The way I’ve come to see it, social media is all about putting on a mask and doing some song-and-dance, but also, inevitably, about performing as yourself.

The Upside

We did not come out of the Social Media Project with nothing.

Yeah, we lost momentum.  Our audience has no doubt abandoned us as we’ve abandoned them.

But doesn’t mean we can’t come back.  We lay the groundwork.  We still possess the tools for social media networking: the websites, the twitters, and the experience.

Not to mention several new friends!  I had the delight of running into Portland cartoonist Eriq Nelson in person at Small Press Expo this past month.  What a cool guy, who I knew from his comments here, and from Twitter.  (He recommended this great image host:

So… This semester, I’m taking a “Business of Comics” class taught by Dan Nadel.  Today, Sarah Glidden came in to talk about her experience in the publishing world.  I asked her how much time she committed to social media.  A sketch and a quote from my notebook:


Sarah Glidden giving advice on Twitter use to young cartoonistsWOW!  Thanks for the permission, Sarah Glidden!

Of course… really… EVERYTHING we do, aside from our work, takes time away from our work.  And we do it anyway,

A) to stay alive,

B) to stay happy and sane, and

C) to improve or promote our work.

But still.  Reassuring words.  Sarah says that she uses Twitter everyday, along with Facebook, but that she doesn’t necessarily post every day.

I have every intention of continuing to use social media.  At the moment, however, it’s less of a priority than making comics, going to school, and organizing Cartoon Allies.

This is not goodbye, internet!  This is “til next time!”  (And if I want to place out of “Digital Portfolio” class, there’ll be a lot of “next times”.)

HA (the Intern)


Past Installments:

Week 1 (Getting Started)

Week 2 (Setting Up Websites)

Week 3 (Twitter)

Week 4 (Building with Tumblr)

Weeks 5-6 (Part 1: Life Offline, Collaboration)

Weeks 5-6 (Part 2: Life Online, Counting)

Week 7 (Traffic Reports)

Week 8 (Backlogging and Pacing Content)

Week 9 (Building a Persona)


1 Comment to Social Media for Young Cartoonists: Wrap-Up

  • by Jahhdog

    On October 10, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Thanks for the update Hilary. I came to the Sarah Glidden realization as well. So I am trying to draw more and “socialize” less. Like Glidden I do still use frequent the sites but unless I have something to show or say regarding my cartooning then I choose to spend the time creating cartoons! Thanks for the articles and I hope to see more of your work in future!


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