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Hamletting: A 24-Hour Comic


pens and paper Here, then are the tools with which I girded myself as I begun my task. Plenty of pens of varying sizes; plenty of spare leads for my pencil; erasers; two new pads of bristol. These are the basics which without no drawing could take place, but the necessaries for the project do not end here.

Though determining the plot of the 24-hour comic ahead of time is more or less against the rules of the dare, it is permissible to work out some influencing factors ahead of time to help grease the creative wheels. Over the day or so I had to prepare, I'd picked out three.

Elements of Style The first was this book: "The Elements of Style: A Practical Encyclopedia of Interior Architectural Details from 1485 to the Present" edited by Stephen Calloway and Elizabeth Cromley. I got it several years ago due to the hundreds of excellent photographs and illustrations contained within of windows, doors, staircases, fireplaces and other things. At the time I was heavily into 3D computer-generated imagery and got this book as a reference toward that purpose, but it's a wonderful book to have for anyone who does any sort of visual artwork.

For my purposes, the images would seed my muse and give me something visual to work with.

Shakespeare book My second primary influence would be Shakespeare's "Hamlet." I generally enjoy Shakespeare but "Hamlet" holds a special interest for me. The more I study it, see it, read it, the more I find in it with which I identify. I tried once before to adapt an abbreviated form of the play into comic form- cheekily working from Tom Stoppard's "15-Minute Hamlet" (found within "Dogg's Hamlet")- and hoped to follow the 24-Hour Comic model of doing one page per hour, but faltered and haven't yet gone back to that particular project. (Looking at it now, though, I can probably pick up where I left off and complete it. Since I just noticed that my site is the third one Google kicks out when searching for "15 minute hamlet tom stoppard" and the first when searching for "15 minute hamlet," I think I'm nearly obligated to do so!)

But my approach here would not be to tell the story of "Hamlet," but merely to use bits of it as I saw fit and the story dictated. I would crib lines of dialogue and make my own story. Since I know the play fairly well, I figured it would be easy to pick out lines that were either appropriate to whatever action took place or were simply favorites that could be stuck in at opportune moments.

Bowie magazine My third and final bit of pre-selected influence would be David Bowie. This comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me or has been a regular reader of my Zwol comic or my blog, so there's no need to explain here why I decided to use Bowie to further fuel my muse.

At other times, I'd toyed with the idea of playing all of Bowie's albums straight through, in order, and basing a 24-hour comic on whatever was playing at the moment, but that seemed too hectic for what I wanted to do. I was hoping to do a page an hour and since most of Bowie's albums click in at about 40 minutes on average, that would make me feel like I was always behind. Maybe some other time. There are enough Bowie albums to last 24 hours without repeating any (and I do have them all), but this didn't seem to be the time to try that experiment. I settled for using this magazine, which has plenty of photos from throughout his career, as visual reference.

Lord of the Rings CD set There was one other bit of influence that wasn't planned even as far ahead as the others (which is to say, almost not at all). This was the BBC's 1981 dramatization of "The Lord of the Rings," starring Ian Holm as Frodo. (How cool is that, then that he became Peter Jackson's LotR movie Bilbo?) This was the way I first encountered "The Lord of the Rings" back when I heard it broadcast on NPR (though I do remember seeing the stage play version of "The Hobbit" when I was younger). Even in the years between when I first heard it on the radio to when I heard it again on CD a couple years ago, I remembered the main theme music fairly accurately from those first hearings. I'd never heard the entire thing all at once in one go before, though, and since I was looking at 24 hours of comic-drawing, I figured that spending 13 of them with Lord of the Rings playing wouldn't be a bad idea. Plus, at one hour per CD, it would be a good way to help pace myself.

At 11:35pm, I blogged that I was starting. In the next 10 minutes, I sent an email to the 24-Hour Comics people that I would be blogging so they could note it on their message board, gathered my pens and paper, made sure I had a comfortable place to sit, put in the first "Lord of the Rings" CD and got to work. At 11:46pm, I touched pencil to paper.

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