Comic Non-Sans: Observing the Livestream

More and more lately, people have been streaming their webcomic-drawing progress.  I had it suggested to me by one or two people that I do the same, but I’m so easily distracted that I almost never sit and draw a comic at one go so I figured mine is not the artistic method for people to watch.  However, with the sheer amount of people doing it, I figured I should at least see how it works.

My aforementioned hardworking friend John Joseco has started his own Livestream, which he uses to sketch viewer requests for about eleven hours at a go.  Yeah, you heard me —  “one of the great things about working from home,” he said, but also a testament to the fact that his drawing hand is clearly made of impervium.  As he is a bit of a brony art god anymore, most of his requests end up being MLP-related despite his note saying he’ll draw any fanart.  No original characters, no original characters of his own, just stuff from existing properties.

Now, granted, I did not stay for the entire eleven-hour run of the thing, but I was able to look in and out as the evening went on.  I plan to peruse other Livestreams over time, but there were a few things, both good and bad, that I noticed.

For one thing, the way he handled breaks.  He’s going on an eleven-hour drawing bender, but it’s a shot of his computer screen with no audio save for whatever playlist he’s got running.  So when he had to hop up for a few, he drew a little “BRB” image, then changed it when he got back.  (Usually this was something distressing like an anthropomorphic slice of cheese for his viewers to wonder over while he was gone.)  It was a good way to let people know what was going on with no way to wave or say anything and without having to go into the chat, and it kept people talking.

He also had some mods (besides himself) handling the chat.  Requests came in ridiculously quickly whenever he’d finish a picture, and as soon as he chose, one of the mods would clear the chat box until it was time for the next request.  Things got ridiculous after they went to bed, and it was interesting to see how people who seemed un-thrilled before suddenly missed them.

From a practical standpoint, how JJ handled saving his pics was rather ingenious.  He only used one image in Photoshop, and whenever he went on to a new sketch he just made a new layer.  Everything ended up getting saved into one file, and when he ran across something he decided he liked enough to color or save elsewhere, it was easy to grab.

Really, I’ve only got one negative thing to say about the stream, and it’s nothing to do with JJ.  Rather, it’s a bit about the 200-person crowd hammering away with requests.  It’s very hard to get “heard” in a large chat like that, and I can understand the frustration (I gave up on ever getting him to draw me a sandwich), but at least in my mind there needs to be an art request stream etiquette.

1. Don’t spam.  Don’t just copy and paste a request over and over.  The mods basically said that at the absolute most, one shouldn’t repost their request ’til it’s slid off the top of the screen.  Even then, it seemed that the only reason things were sliding by too quickly to be seen was because people were posting repeatedly for fear of not being seen.  I’m not JJ, but it seems one simple list would be far easier to choose from.

2. Don’t wheedle.  I saw a few cases of “Pleeeeeeeeeease draw my request, I’ve had a terrible day.”  It seemed oddly obnoxious and whiny. I’m sure 100 of those 200 viewers had had bad days, too.  It’s a casual request stream, and I’m not sure where requester mood fits in.

3. Don’t whine.  I won’t name names or requests, but one person was spamming theirs over and over, and as the evening went on punctuated it with “I’ve been waiting all night, I’m sure he’ll do it eventually.” And it just went downhill from there.  Finally he sent me a private message telling me he didn’t even know what fandom the requester was talking about.  They may have gotten their way via whining in the end, but they won no friends.

In the end, if you’re an observer on one of these streams, remember: the artist is working hard, they’ll probably do more streams eventually, and there are X number of people just like you who want to see a great artist do something especially for them.  I have immeasurable respect for artists who keep their cool while getting bombarded with requests like this, and I do hope JJ keeps going.

Now draw me a sandwich.

Posted on September 27, 2011 at 01:00 by Kara Dennison · Permalink
In: Columns, The Written Word, Webcomics, Webcomics · Tagged with: , , ,