Being inspired isn’t enough…


Let’s play word association! I’ll go first: Inspiration.

…Inspiration = treadmill!

“Wait, what? Treadmill?!” 👈 You must be wondering why inspiration makes me think of exercise equipment but stick with me here…

The thing about inspiration is: it makes you feel like you’re going somewhere + making your comic happen, except when you look back, you’re in exactly the same spot. Like being on a treadmill!

Are you starting to know the feeling?

Being inspired is a wonderful thing, don’t get me wrong. But it also can be a big creative block if you aren’t careful.

I used to literally collect inspiration, thinking that if I came up with just the right combination of things to ignite that cozy inspiration fire inside me, I could make the greatest comic ever. Magazines, Pinterest, Criterion Collection films and Instagram feeds…I devoured it all.

That became my “job”…my “creating”. Except I wasn’t creating anything. I was treating it as what making comics was all about. It’s not enough to be inspired. Inspiration is just one slice of the pie.

The way to check yourself before you wreck yourself is knowing how to handle your inspiration (so you can actually take action on making your comic.) How do you do that? Pick a theme then flesh it out with inspiration–but the secret is to limit yourself to a few things, not a plethora of different sources. (Three is my magic number.)

Think of it as a recipe, you can’t put too much in or it’ll be inedible. That’s why I’ve put together two of my favorite comics and their distinct inspiration sources so you can see how to make inspiration work for you, not against you…and get that comic made even easier!

Heavy Vinyl

by Carly Usdin

A group of kick-ass (literally!) teen girls in 1998 form their very own underground fight club. So cool! Carly shaped her vision for her comic by looking at the 90’s + pop culture: Empire Records, Sailor Moon, The Baby-Sitters Club, girl rock bands, and feminism and queer normalization. This inspiration informed not just the fashions, characters, story, and setting but also the color palette: cool like an episode of My So-Called Life.


Make your own creative recipe:

Pick three inspiration sources from the 1990’s for a comic (one book, one band, and one movie.) BONUS: give it a spin by including a social issue that is important to you.

• Learn more about the comic here.

• Read Heavy Vinyl here.

My Pretty Vampire

by Katie Skelly

Katie Skelly’s main character Clover, in her graphic novel My Pretty Vampire, is described as a “Bardot-esque blonde” but the inspiration doesn’t stop there. Her vampire trope calls upon 70’s campy horror films, especially illustrated movie posters like The Wizard of Gore. She builds upon the slept-in Parisian cool of Bridgitte Bardot’s influence with hip 60’s fashion and muted, mustard colors that feel like a trip back to technicolor.


Make your own creative recipe:

Imagine a spin you can take on an original horror or fantasy comic (like how Katie found her own style of telling a vampire story…as far from Twilight as you can get.)

• Learn more about the comic here.

• Read My Pretty Vampire here.

Work on colliding inspiration into your own unique point of view. Don’t worry about the story…just the vibes. And then move on. That’s the key. Think it, get it on the page, and then take action on something else. No getting stuck on that treadmill 😉

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