Archives: 24 hour comics
Today is 24 Hour Comics Day! It was only two years ago that I did my four attempts at the beast during my last quarter at OSU.
I’m hoping to tackle something very personal that’s been percolating in my head for awhile. It’ll be good for me.
I’ll be arting from noon Saturday to noon Sunday, so wish me luck!
October 3rd was 24 Hour Comics Day 2009! Instead of doing a true 24 Hour Comic this year, I instead did a 24-hour-binge of Garanos; I made it my goal to complete a 2-week buffer of 6 pages.
I’ve been in and out of town for what seems like the last month or more, and with all the commotion and activity, what buffer I was maintaining before got all eaten up, and I was killing myself meeting my deadlines in the last week. Then I saw a tweet by Scott Kurtz which said he was doing three weeks of comics for PvP on 24HCD, which got me thinking of doing the same. The idea hadn’t occurred to me before!
Despite how nice it is having new work after a 24 Hour Comic, doing a buffer for Garanos really was a very responsible, practical idea, and I’m glad I went this route instead of drawing something else all day, and then having to turn around Sunday night and do a page of Garanos for Monday’s update anyway.
I started my timer at noon on Saturday, by drawing all the pages of Garanos I’d need. I managed to stream this live on my Livestream channel, which was pretty cool because then Fes of the Webcomic Beacon rebroadcasted my feed for a few minutes during the 24 hour broadcast that the Beacon was doing that day. The Beacon’s broadcast was my background listening all day, as well, which was pretty cool. Almost like having other people there to cheer you on as you worked. ^_^
At about 4 PM, I had all the pages drawn, and I switched over to Photoshop to do the coloring, but unfortunately, Photoshop and the Procaster (Livestream’s in-house streaming application) weren’t playing nicely, and both programs running at the same time were eating up too much processor power for me to get anything done, so after getting frustrated and impatient, I was forced to color the pages offline.
Later on, during a lull in programming, I called into the Webcomic Beacon and chatted with them for a little while, which was pretty cool. I thoroughly intend to set up a chili swap at Penguicon, so let the record show that the agreement stands! Sometime in the wee hours, Fes started feeling unwell, so the Beacon went off the air. :( In lieu of this, I popped in The Office and continued on my way.
One of the many things I learned last year was that I’d need ergonomic support all over, so I tried to sit up straight for a majority of the time, got up to stretch from time to time, and I bought a wrist brace for my right hand. I’m SO GLAD I got the brace, because at the end of the 24 hours, my hand didn’t even hurt that much! It was mostly just tired. BIG difference from the end of my 24HCs last year.
When all was said and done, I finished 5 out of 6 pages. If I hadn’t lost 2-3 hours due to the Procaster/Photoshop complications, I bet I could’ve finished all 6. I’m really happy that I got so much done, and that I have a buffer done!
Perhaps this winter I’ll hole up some weekend to do a real 24 Hour Comic to make up for not doing one this year. ^_^
I completed my 4th 24 Hour Comic on December 4th, 2008 at 7:17 PM. This piece was done on the premises of OSU’s quarterly Art & Tech show, Locovore Bot, in Haskett Hall on Ohio State campus. I began it the night before the opening reception, on the 3rd, in order to complete it during the show’s opening.
I had my setup on a granite platform on the second floor of Haskett, complete with my computer and a cot to sleep on. For the first 12 hours or so, I was sitting directly on the granite slab, sometimes on a blanket, which believe it or not is not particularly comfortable. The whole experience left my legs and back extremely sore.
(Photo credit: Amy Youngs)
I had a few false starts with this comic, initially intending to do an artist statement in comic form, summarizing my college experience. After a couple pages of that, I got bored with it, so a few hours later I started a really stupid comic about unicorns being turned into jerky. Which I recognized was a completely terrible idea.
Chris suggested I write these false starts into the overall comic, and do something more meta, so I ended up basically documenting the things that happened during my performance piece, such as an encounter I had with the vending machine on the first floor in the wee hours. This was a much more successful approach, since after three 24 Hour Comics, I’m pretty dry on ideas for short form story comics.
So it’s basically the documentation of my performance in comic form, with some small embellishments. This will probably be my last 24 Hour Comic until 24HC Day next year, so I have some time to generate more ideas.
So you want to try out the 24 Hour Comic challenge? Excellent! Thousands of comic artists have taken on this challenge, so much so that it’s almost become a rite of passage for any comic creator! Having done several this last fall, I have some advice on what to do before, during, and after your attempt.
Learn from those who have done before, my elders have always said. I don’t think anyone else has documented their 24 Hour Comics to the extent that I have, much less written a guide like this, so I want to share my knowledge and experiences in the process of doing these comics. This is not only a creative challenge, but a mental and physical one as well.
Before the Comic
In the days or weeks before your attempt, make sure you prepare! I don’t just mean having your paper and pencils handy (though that’s also important) but make sure you’re mentally and physically prepared.
Set your date and time. I recommend a Saturday, from midnight to midnight, but any stretch of two days that you have off will do. Midnight to midnight is especially helpful because you have nonstop daylight for a good chunk of time in the middle of the 24 hours, and it will help you trick your internal clock into forgetting that you’ve been awake for so long. Having the following Sunday off is also very beneficial, since you’ll have as long as you like to sleep off the all-nighter and relax before you go back to school or work on Monday.
Eliminate things that will distract you. I, personally, can get easily distracted by menial housekeeping when I have something to do with a looming deadline. I can’t number the times that I’ve had to finish a paper for school, and suddenly had all sorts of initiative to vacuum my carpet and clean my bathroom instead. The week before I did my first attempt, I cleaned my entire apartment from top to bottom to eliminate any possible distractions that could take my focus away from the comic. If you know you have habits like this when you’re working on a deadline, make sure you remove them before you begin your comic.
For the love of God, sleep. Rest is important, especially since you’ll be awake for such a long stretch, so if at all possible, make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep for several nights before your attempt. If you choose to go the midnight-to-midnight route, you may not get the full 8 hours of sleep beforehand, but in this case, even a long nap is better than no sleep at all. I made the mistake of not sleeping before two of my attempts, and it utterly destroyed me both times. Hours 6 through 18 will be awful if you don’t sleep beforehand, I guarantee it.
Gather your ammunition. Get your materials together. That means anything you could possibly need during the course of your comic. Reference materials, paper, media; hell, even a list of bookmarks in their own special folder in your browser. If there’s something you will need, make sure it’s easily accessible.
Rations. Make sure your fridge is well-stocked with healthy food and snacks and your energy drink of choice. That carb or caffeine boost will come in very handy in the later hours when you’re really dragging.
Don’t plan the story before the 24 hours begin. Not only is this against the rules, but it’s also more fun if you improvise when the challenge starts, not to mention it’s Scott’s recommended route. I’ve had tons of ideas for what to do for 24 hour comics, but since you can’t write anything down beforehand, I’ve always forgotten them when the time came. So just make it up! There are tons of idea generators out there, so make use of them if you get stuck.
During the Comic
The day has come at last, and you’re ready to go! As you make your comic, I reccommend the following:
Stay hydrated and fed. It’s important to keep yourself fueled during this challenge. If you let yourself get thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, so keep a full glass of water or a water bottle with you at all times to sip on. Make sure you don’t forget to eat at regular intervals, as well! Since you’re not operating on an everyday schedule, you need to make sure you give yourself regular mealtimes every 5 or so hours, depending on how often you eat on a normal day.
Pace yourself and budget your time. It’s one hour per page, and if you’re planning on sleeping, then make sure you plan accordingly. If you’re doing any post production like Photoshop editing or publishing on the web, make sure you budget time for that at the tail-end of the 24 hours.
Get a wingman. Having a wingman during your attempt is to your advantage. They can be someone who is doing their own 24 hour comic along with you, or can be a friend or partner offering moral support. They don’t necessarily have to be artistically inclined, either. Chris stayed up with me every time I did a comic, doing things like cooking, waking me up after naps, and letting me bounce ideas off him whenever I got into a rut. Even having someone standing by on IM to talk to can be good, as long as you don’t let yourself get distracted by them too much.
Polyphasic sleep. Take short breaks throughout the 24 hours. I take a 30 minute nap every three hours, to rest my brain and my body. Resting your body is very important as the hours go by; every time I laid down for a nap, I noticed my back muscles had always tensed up quite a bit, and letting that tension deflate for a little while helped me keep my stamina as the hours went by. My hands also got quite sore from the drawing and writing, and it was always a relief when I could put down the pencil for half an hour. Sometimes my naps would turn into 35-45 minute naps, depending on how groggy I was after 30 minutes, so go with the flow, and stay in bed for those few extra minutes if you think you need to.
Fool your internal clock. Like with any all-nighter, do everything you can to trick your internal clock. When you first wake up, eat breakfast food, no matter the time of day. If it’s nighttime, turn on all your lights and close the curtains or blinds so you can’t see what time of day it is outside. Keep the curtains open during bright daylight, since natural light is awesome and will save electricity, but once it starts getting even slightly dark, lock it all down and use artificial light. If you’re doing your comic in your home, take a shower around halfway through, or sometime when you’re starting to drag, and go through your usual morning routine to refresh your mind.
Document your progress. Since my 24 hour comics were part of an independent study for OSU, I documented the hell out of my attempts with video, blogging, and Twitter. You don’t have to do all this, but documentation is good to have when it’s all said and done! At the very least, make a blog entry the day before as you prepare, at the halfway point to talk about what you’re doing, and the day after, when you’ve gotten some sleep. It’ll be easier to document your experience during the attempt than to try to remember all the details in the days after it.
After the Comic
The 24 hours is over! What now?
If you’re not finished with all 24 pages… then you have two options. You can either end it wherever you stopped (the Gaiman variation) or you can continue to work on it until it’s done (the Eastman variation). Scott considers these the “noble failure” variants, and still true 24-hour comics in spirit.
If you do have 24 pages… then congratulations! You’ve successfully completed the 24 Hour Comic challenge! Keep in mind that with webcomics, the comic must also be online in some fashion within the 24 hours.
Now go sleep. When you wake up, you can brag to all your friends about how you made an awesome comic in a single day.
I got started with this 24HC at 7:30 last night. If all goes planned, I’ll get finished with it tonight at Locovore Bot’s opening, which is from 5 to 9 tonight. I began this comic with the intention of doing an idea I had sometime in the last ten week, which was to do a comic essentially about my personal artist statement, and sort of giving a closing commentary on my college career. However, I lost interest with that after two pages, and stewed for a little while before going with another comic idea involving absurd humor centered around the concept of “Magical Unicorn Jerky.” Not a great idea, but I got four comics out of it.
Then Chris suggested I go with a meta-comic, about my performance of the comic. So I did that, inserting some pages around the failed attempts to illustrate that I had the ideas and then gave up on them. And I’ve since been drawing things that happen to me during this performance, such as my battle with the Coke machine downstairs.
I’m currently situated on top of a big slab-o-granite platform at the end of the hallway on the second floor, near the back entrance to the Sound Stage. Sitting here, either cramped up with crossed legs or slightly stretched out, has made me very sore. Sitting on a giant rock will do that. But I borrowed a cot from my friend Susan, which I now have set up, and which is much more comfortable than a rock. (Though I think the damage is done on my poor bum.) I’ve been consistently ahead of schedule since going with the metacomic, and I plan to save some pages for when the afternoon wears on and the show starts.
I’m writing this entry on my brand-new MSI Wind netbook, which I bought for myself with graduation gift money. I literally picked it up from UPS yesterday morning before setup, so I’ve had this whole time to play with it, and I really really like it. The wireless is wonderful, and the screen is an acceptable resolution for a laptop this size. It has a webcam built-in, so I’m also streaming this adventure live on Ustream. (Embedded below.) Many people have been amazed at such a little laptop. I’m glad i made the decision to go with a mini than a regular sized machine.
Not much to report, other than that. It was very quiet between the hours of midnight and 8 or so, and now students are trickling in and out. I’m sure it’ll pick up here very soon, since there are always lots of 11:30 classes. Stay tuned as the day wears on.