Saturday, October 2, 2010
Advice on the 24-Hour Comic
You may know that today is 24-Hour Comic Day for 2010. And you may know that, while we are no experts in the 24-hour comic, Mike and I have made a few attempts at this challenge ourselves. Satisfactory #3 was going to be a 24-hour comic, and I think Mike drew the sixteen pages of that book in sixteen consecutive hours. Satisfactory #5 was a successful 24-hour comic, except for the inking of a last few pages that I had to finish over the following day or two.
And Satisfactory Comics #7 was in some ways the closest we've come: all of the new stories in that book were penciled and inked in a single sitting of about thirty hours. That was actually only 21 pages of new comics, but I got up the next morning and lettered three pages of supplemental text while Mike knocked out the cover. So I think it counts. It sure felt like an accomplishment.
By the end of that experience, we felt ready to offer a little advice about what worked for us and what was difficult in the process. The advice appeared in the last little bit of text in Satisfactory #7, and in honor of a 24-Hour Comics Day that we're not celebrating in any other way, I'll reproduce it here.
I'm surprised more people don't do this: if you're setting out to fill twenty-four pages, why not plan to fill them with an anthology of short pieces? I guess that requires more ideas, but it also means that you can bail from a bad idea quickly and move in a new direction. It even means that you can edit, if you want to, when you get ready to publish the comic as a mini.
The caffeine thing is obvious, but it's really worth thinking in advance about how to vary your drawing tools. Unless you have some perfect pen that I don't know about, your hands are going to get tired (and possibly painful) before the end of the day. Think about what you might be able to accomplish with tools you don't ordinarily use, or tools you hold in a different way. Bring a variety of drawing and inking tools—brushes, markers, construction paper and scissors, Q-Tips, whatever you think you might use in the sleep-deprived wee hours of your project. It's nice to be able to move forward while you give your hands some relief from the posture of pencilling.
And try to switch back and forth between pencilling and inking based not only on the needs of your hands but also on the needs of your inventive imagination. This was the thing about Satisfactory #7 that worked best for us, actually: up until the last few hours, there were always a few incomplete pages on the table, and each of us could always put down the page he was pencilling or scripting in order to get a brief break to think about something else. And, by the end of the day, I think we had honestly surprised ourselves with the number of things we'd come up with.
If you're out there making a 24-hour comic, I wish you fortitude, alacrity, and an unflagging imagination. Here's to many happy returns of the day.