Monday, May 19, 2014


If it's on the web or in PowerPoint it must be true!
I know seems impossible, but some people (mostly non-drawers) assume I'm kidding when I tell them I present workshops about injury prevention for cartoonist. How could you get injured from drawing? Think about it- spending long hours over a drawing board (or screen), compounded by time out for texting and computer work means daily hours of potential hand, wrist, arm, and back torture. If you take breaks from drawing by relaxing hunched over your stamp collection or balled up on the couch gaming (is that what the kids call it?) you've got the equivalent of a big "injure me!" sign taped to your back or other parts.

It's surprising to me that cartoonists aren't injured more often.

As a part of the workshop I give a tour of some of the parts that get injured.
The good news is that comics fests and cons are starting to work self-care into their professional practices programing. I've lead injury prevention workshops at M.I.C.E. (two years in a row) and on May 9 presented at T.C.A.F. as a part of their Word Balloon Academy professional events.

I hear a lot of injury and pain stories from comics artists. Some have a happy ending and some don't.   I am thrilled to say that more and more artists are interested in actively reducing their chances of injury. 

No matter what your medium, your most important equipment is your body! At this point in time, you still have to physically interface with your materials in order to put marks on paper or virtual paper. If you damage your body you can reduce your ability to draw. 

Here I am using images from my minicomic, (NO) PAIN! 
to scare everyone straight. I might make jokes about them, but
nerve impingements are not funny, people!
Drawing is an endurance event. Drawing a comic is a 15 K race. Drawing a graphic novel is a marathon. If you're going to put your pencil in a drawer and retire at age 40ish like many professional athletes, then don't worry about self care. However, I'd like to point out that athletes retiring at 40 have been training their whole careers and leaving nothing to chance. But for those of you interested in drawing comfortably well into your dotage you should consider how you're going to care for your most important drawing equipment (you!)

This is not an interpretive dance. I'm leading everyone in some neck stretches.
I'm not going to give you the whole 45-60 minute illustrated spiel here in this post. (Too long! You wouldn't make it 1/4 of the way through.) But the gist is: Have a regular exercise/movement practice; eat right (or at least better); sleep right (or at least better); perform a physical "warm up" before you draw; take breaks while drawing; stretch afterward; if you think you're injured and it's not getting better, see a doctor.

You don't have to make huge changes all at once. Little cumulative alterations in drawing, exercise, and general health habits can snowball over years into a lifestyle that gives you a lot more time to draw pain free.

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