Friday, January 11, 2008


I want to do a comic, but I don't know what to do. Seems like an ongoing problem for me, I'm just not a flowing river of ideas like some people. At the moment I've got a couple of things I'd like to do this year, but I need to start doing something pretty sharpish and it none of my other ideas are right.
Anyone else have this slow flow of ideas problem or is it just me?
Anyway, apologies for this random and odd post, I'm just sort of thinking out loud.
Less cryptic than that is the pretty spiffy news that 'MY robot!' has found another home, better yet I've been asked to expand it, and as I had an idea that sort of fitted alongside it (not after, sorry, he's really not coming back) I decided to go with that.
Better get thinking.


Danny said...

Astrodog... Any help?

Peter Bangs said...

Yay! I'm not the only Astrodog fan out here.

Seriously though. I have a similar problem although for me it's more like ideas that pop into my head but don't seem to go anywhere.

paulhd said...

I'm sort of worried you and Danny are going to tie me up and force me to do an Astrodog book.
Not sure Astrodog's right for this for a couple of reasons Danny, but I am thinking about it.
Promise you both though, something Astro will happen, I don't like to waste any of the few ideas I have.
The ideas not going anywhere is a problem, and one I've had too. I think it's because I don't work on them, pull them apart, put them back together, see what's good or bad etc. I just tend to shrug and go 'nah', which is not helpful really.

I. N. J. Culbard said...

Do you feel you have trouble coming up with stuff, or do you come up with stuff all the time it's just you never feel like there's anything from the ideas you get that you'd like to follow through? (My money's on the latter because I think you've got great ideas, and they have to come from somewhere).

I sometimes use oblique strategies just to get the old brain thinking sometimes. They're these cards that make suggestions like for example

"question the heroic"


"the easily forgotten thing is the most important".

random stuff like that, just to get you thinking outside the box.
Only I have them as a widget for my mac and I recently discovered that that's what Alan Moore uses just to come up with ideas (I only ever use them once I've got the initial idea or something's been running a while). I find they're especially useful if you've got an idea but you think its been done before (which can often see an idea to the rejection pile). A random 'hey how about this' can really change the nature of what you're doing.

Another thing to do is take false start projects, projects that you had an idea for but you never did anything with for whatever reason, maybe you didn't feel it had legs, and marry it with another rejected idea to make one brand new and usually quite unique idea.

Remember the Inspiration perspiration ratio. The inspiration part is all the hard work. Someone asks you 'what you doing?' and you say 'thinking' they're likely to say 'well could you stop that and help me do this' like stop wasting time and do something practical. sometimes when you're working on your own time on stuff you may feel like sitting there thinking is actually wasting time and you want to rush to see results because you don't feel you've got time to waste etc. So the answer there is pretty simple; stop and think. I'm still "thinking" about ideas from 20 years ago.

Great news about My Robot. Cool:)

paulhd said...

INJ - RE: 'MY robot!' Cheers. I'm starting to see this comic as a bit of a breakthrough for me, it's certainly the best recieved thing I've done.
Ideas? I suffer both the things you mention, the ideas don't come that often, and annoyingly the best ones just seem to appear seemingly at random. Not always following through or seeing the value in my ideas is a definite problem. Originality makes it difficult, I have a tendency to not explore an idea because on the surface it seems similar to something else. Astrodog suffers from this, but I am wondering if it matters, interpretation of an idea/concept sets work apart from other seemingly similar work.
Interesting what you say about 'thinking', this is the bit that my family (and recent events have meant my family are here quite a lot) doesn't seem to get and I often find myself being pulled away from the thought work because it looks like I'm doing nothing, Bill Watterston said to the untrained eye it looks a lot like goofing off.
Alan Moore has interesting ideas about...uh, ideas. He reckons, quite analytically, that they come from the place where knowledge meets personality, and I think that's very true. I'd say my own ideas have always been inspired by reading or seeing things, whether it's another creator's work, a news report or just something from my day to day life, and then filtering through my own personality.
Did Moore get the oblique strategies from Brian Eno? I'm sure I recall hearing about them, and I know he's a fan. The Mac widget sounds cool, where did you find it?
Cheers for you thoughts on this, it's helpful.

Peter Bangs said...

Something else you might want to check out is Freemind. It's a software designed for pulling ideas together. If you have an idea for a story it allows you to make a kind of flow chart of all the ideas connected to it, linking in websites, images, notes and probably music and video clips as well. I'm using it for research on my Western story at the moment and it's proving absolutely invaluable to pull together scanned scraps of notes, typed thoughts, images of horses and locations, historical research to ground the story in and scribbled images. you can keep as many maps as you want going so you can note down the germ of a story and keep adding to it until you have enough to work from confidently with a whole story. It might be worth a look. Just google Freemind and you should end up at a wikipedia page. That'll explain it better.

I. N. J. Culbard said...

The widgets can be found here:

There are several solutions to family and how to not seem like you're goofing off. Get a bike. Or a dog. Walking boots. It seems that as long as you're mobile while you're thinking that's okay. It's not goofing off. Dickens used to walk 10/20 miles a night to see all the sights of London, his inspiration for his work.

As for not exploring ideas because they sound like something else, can you name anything that sounds unlike anything else? I bet its a small list if you can make a list at all. Like more says, knowledge and personality. It's not the idea, it's your take on it.

Try taking two ideas of yours that you've shelved because you thought they were too like something you'd seen somewhere else or whatever and marry them together.

I. N. J. Culbard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
I. N. J. Culbard said...

Also, don't be too hard on yourself. Alan Moore uses oblique strategies because he gets stuck. Take comfort in that.