First You Get Good, Then You Get Fast: Thoughts to Live By for Blog Production

cerebus the aardvark--first issue

The cover of issue #1 of Cerebus the Aardvark, 1977. Dave Sim helped spark a movement in the 1990s for independent comics outside of the mainstream.

When writing this blog, I take a lot of inspiration from Dave Sim, creator of the independent comic book Cerebus the Aardvark.

Here’s the best advice he ever gave about producing a good quality product on a regular basis.

Just sit down and do it. First you get good, then you get fast, then you get good and fast.

–Dave Sim, 1993

So much of creation (including blog creation) involves putting your ideas, effort, sweat, and inspiration down and offering it up to your readers/viewers/consumers. The key is that you just keep creating your art without waiting for perfection and you keep your product in a constant state of creation.

This is echoed more recently by Seth Godin (who also defies explanation) and his credo of “Make More Art”. Make something, he says. Offer it up and then do it, again. Over and over.

All of which leads to some contradictory ideas that can help the average blogger in putting out a quality blog or publication.

  1. It takes time to make quality but you shouldn’t necessarily hold back on production to get the highest quality possible
  2. Quality is production. The more you do it the better your quality becomes.
  3. Quality takes time…unless it doesn’t. When you’re constantly creating, quality can come at a moment’s notice.

Taking Dave Sim’s example. Along with his eventual partner Gerhard, Sim produced 300 issues (~6,000 pages) of Cerebus the Aardvark on a (somewhat) monthly schedule from 1977 through 2004. Some of it was horrible but much (most) of it was downright beautiful and constituted the peak of what a fictional comic book can be. He experimented and some of his experiments fell flat. But when it went right, there was nothing better in a graphic format.

Another of Sim's innovations was the phonebook collection, a collection of 20 or more issues similar in size to an old-fashioned phone book. This allowed readers to catch up without having to follow the action issue to issue. This is the cover for one of his collections.

Another of Sim’s innovations was the phonebook collection, a collection of 20 or more issues similar in size to an old-fashioned phone book. This allowed readers to catch up without having to follow the action issue to issue. This is the cover for one of his collections.

Dave Sim changed his industry by introducing new forms (sideways panels, breaking the frame, multi-issue story arcs), new products (his “phonebook” collections created a secondary market where readers could catch an entire story arc at one time, something no other publisher did at that time), and new ways for creating comic art (Sim was pretty much the god-father of the self-publishing movement for comic books).

 For me, I can’t think of a better template for putting out a blog or any kind of online publication, including:

  • Experimentation
  • Constant production
  • Improving and evolving quality
  • New forms, new products, and new ways of looking at things to engage and transform your audience and target area

All of these things are doable in a blog format (and its successors in coming years). These are good traits to aspire to when blogging or living a digital life. Someday I hope to be there but the journey is a heck of a lot of fun.

Going back to the ideas I summarized above, Dave Sim showed me that: 1) Quality is production; and 2) It takes time to put out a great blog…unless and until it doesn’t.

Thanks for the advice, Dave.

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About Joe Hertvik

Joe is the owner of Hertvik Business Services, a service company providing written white papers, case studies, and other marketing content to computer industry companies. He is also a contributing editor for IT Jungle and has written the Admin Alert column for the past ten years. Follow Joe Hertvik on Twitter @JoeHertvik. Email Joe for a free quote on white papers, case studies, brochures, or other marketing materials.
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