This is part 1 of a 4 part discussion on my experience while coming up with the Being Bears webcomic.
Starting off, I don’t remember really wanting to learn to draw. Growing up, I was more interested in maths and science (cricket and basketball as well). However, sometimes, I would see some awesome drawings by kids in my school and wished I could draw/paint like that. I remember in Art class at around 12, We were told to go outside and paint/draw what we saw. I think I got a really bad grade for that, and being a usual straight A student, I was disheartened by my lack of talent and I lost interest altogether.
But, I want a hobby!!!!
After I completed my PhD (in 2014), I really wanted a hobby. Through my MSc and PhD, I would spend most of my evenings and weekends studying, taking an occasional break to do hang out with my wife, do Tai Chi, or play on my Xbox360.
Once The PhD was finally out of the way, I had time to work on something new and different. I tried learning the guitar (although this was my second attempt), the didgeridoo (I did my PhD in Perth, Australia and really liked the didge), and I even began tinkering with Raspberry Pis (I made a magic mirror, which is need of an upgrade!). Around that time, I also started toying with fantasy fiction writing.
I love fantasy books and console games. I can’t really describe why I like them so much. As a scientist, you need to have a certain amount of creativity, but it must be tempered. There is a limit to how you should use your imagination in science, or you will start believing that you’ve developed an Ansible (I’ve listened to someone give a talk, a serious scientific talk where he and his colleagues believe that he had created an Ansible, although they call it Quantum Super luminal communications (QSC).)
Fantasy writing is very different (duh!). One doesn’t need to explain how fire comes out of a person’s hand, only that it does! Or, how one person can speak to many others instantaneously with their minds, or even the ability to fly. It’s just magic! So, over a couple of months I created a few worlds each with different rules, people, creatures and so on.
The Good Books of Larson
For my birthday in 2014 my wife bought me The Complete Far Side Collection. It is two massive books with all Gary Larson’s comics ever created from January 1, 1980, to January 1, 1995, and the Weiner Dog art book.
I love The Far Side, it is probably the greatest comic that has ever been created! I began reading religiously from the Good Books of Larson every evening. I even joked about starting a religion, where the head Farsidist (me) would read from the Books while wearing a scarf made of a rubber chicken, and a propeller hat!
Around that time we started noticing a number of crazy things happening around us. I guess things like these were occurring all the time, but we may have noticed it more due to the Good Books’ influence! Everytime something would happen, one of us would be like ‘OMG, this could be a comic!’ After happening a few times, and drafting a few comic ideas, we eventually came up with the idea of Being Bears!