Stephen McCranie is the cartoonist at Doodle Alley, a blog where he publishes his comic essays — comic short stories of the motivational kind. He has also created a kids graphic novel series Mal and Chad which is rated quite well on Amazon.
Currently, he's putting out a book called Brick by Brick based on the comics he has published on Doodle Alley. You can check out the his fundraising campaign on Kickstarter at https://kck.st/17rCME9
I managed to interview him to find out more about his website and the book.
Q: Can you tell us about Doodle Alley and your motivation for starting it?
Doodle Alley began 2 years ago. I was working on my graphic novel kids series, Mal and Chad, and sometimes there were weeks and months when I was waiting for my publisher to get back to me, so to keep occupied, I drew comic essays about lessons I had learned about the creative practice. I grouped the essays by theme and a book began to form out of that.
Doodle Alley's homepage
Q. Brick by Brick is sort of a like a self-help self-improvement book. What do you think is the greatest problem or obstacle that artists or you yourself face?
I think artists often make the mistake of thinking that art is life. It's a tempting premise — after all, if art is life, and you are good at art, then you are good at life. But as soon as you believe art is life things will start getting difficult for you. What once was a simple drawing will now be a statement about your worth as a person. If you make something bad, then you'll fall into despair and self-loathing. If you make something good, you'll become arrogant and step on artists who aren't as skilled as you. I know this sounds extreme, but it's how many artists think — and it's a stumbling block.
I believe the solution to this problem is separating your identity from your art. Art is subjective and fickle and changes with time — it doesn't make a stable foundation to build an identity on. For me personally, I try to base my identity on God, because I believe he loves me and accepts me as I am, and that his love for me will never change.
Q. Which is your favourite or most memorable comic essay? Why?
I think my most memorable essay was, "Be Friends with Failure". Many people have no grace for themselves and beat themselves up when they fail, and when I published this essay about how failure is actually a good thing, it got a big response.
Comic essays: Be Friends with Failure and Be Proactive, Not Reative
Q. What do you know now that you wished you had known earlier in your career?
When I first started working out of my house I could barely get 6 hours of work done each day. I wish I had known more about self-motivation. I wish I could have read Brick by Brick back then. Ha ha.
Q. What advice would you have for someone who wants to be a cartoonist?
Make lots of work, even if it's bad, and put it online.
Copy the work of artists you admire and figure out how they do what they do. Find friends who will encourage you. Don't make comics for the praise of your audience, make comics for your audience. Try to meet their needs instead of your needs.
Examples of commissioned works
Check out his Brick by Brick Kickstarter campaign at https://kck.st/17rCME9. It ends 14 Nov 2013.
Backing it for $20 will get you the 200-page book.