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Hamletting: A 24-Hour Comic

I'll use Scott McCloud's words to explain this, since he thought it up:


To create a complete 24 page comic book in 24 continuous hours.

That means everything: Story, finished art, lettering, colors (if you want 'em), paste-up, everything! Once pen hits paper, the clock starts ticking. 24 hours later, the pen lifts off the paper, never to descend again. Even proofreading has to occur in the 24 hour period.

No sketches, designs, plot summaries or any other kind of direct preparation can precede the 24 hour period. Indirect preparation such as assembling tools, reference materials, food, music etc. is fine.

(Those are the basics. For the rest, read all about 24-Hour Comics at his site.)

Got it? 24 hours; 24 pages; no planning and any break you take comes out of your total time. You've got 24 hours and that's all you've got. It's an exercise in creativity. Did I say "exercise"? It's a creative marathon.

24 hour comic day logo I'd wanted to do one; I'd thought about doing one; I wasn't sure if I could actually complete one, but I'd entertained the idea ever since first reading about it and knew that some day I'd have to give it a go. Then along came 24-Hour Comics Day: A day set aside for comics authors from all over to all take the challenge. The date of April 24th had been chosen (for the sheer numerology of it, I suppose: 4/24/04, plus, it was a Saturday) and it seemed as if a lot of people were going to take part. (You can read all about it at their site, as I'm going to skip the details.) As late as the preceeding Wednesday I was still on the fence as to whether I was going to be one of them or not.

By Thursday, I was thinking seriously enough about actually participating that I visited the grocery store in the evening and picked up provisions: A bag of peanut M&Ms, a 6-pack of root beer, a box of frozen chicken fingers, and a box of sticky cinnemon buns. During the day on Friday, I had convinced myself that I would absolutely give it a go.


I knew there was a comics shop, Earth 2, close to home that would be hosting artists for the event, but I thought that I would work at home, since I would have the freedom to create my own comfortable working environment, eat when I wished, listen to what music I wished, and have access to whatever other resources I may have had around. Most importanly, I could keep my own schedule. Since most event locations were starting at noon on Saturday and I was keen on starting sometime before then (in order to finish all the sooner), that was most important. A side-benefit was that I would have access to my computer so that I could blog my progress as well as take digital photos of my work to post as I went along.

When I left work at about 6:30, I had a loose plan set. I would either get a couple hours rest, then begin in the early morning (I was thinking, maybe, 1am? Or 4am? Some weird hour, to be sure), or I would simply start as soon as I could manage and work straight through until I was done. I only hoped there was enough time to get to an art store before closing time, for I needed paper.

I have generally drawn my Zwol comics in spiral-bound sketchpads, but for this project, I felt that larger size bristol board would be called for. The greater space would allow for more freedom to persue a looser style. I find that longer lines and larger images get drawn more quickly than detailed work. I only had 6 or 7 sheets of bristol left, which would not do. Checking via Google as soon as I arrived home, I found a couple stores that were open in the evening, made it to one of them and back by about 8:45.

The more I thought about it, the more it seemed I should forgo any preliminary rest and just dive in, but since I hadn't started yet, I had nothing but time, and so took some of it to vege-out in front of the TV. (My roommate and I had been working our way though Angel season 3 on DVD, and were deep into the season, where many exciting events were afoot.)

Having put it off until I felt the time was right and I should put it off no longer, I gathered my tools in anticipation of beginning.

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"What we did in there - we did in a day." - Dr. Carol Marcus, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan