After making sure the litterbox was empty and the food-bowl full it was off to the races for the fourth year of Fairbanks' participation in that night of cartoon insanity known as 24 Hour Comics! The most important lesson learned: penciling stuff out doesn't do you a damn bit of good if hours later you honestly don't know what the hell it is anymore. That and the scent of Sharpies is like a creative pheromone to cartoonists: uncapping a Magnum 44 is a sure way to perk up attention in the room (with the added bonus it can also enhance aesthetic appreciation of one's work: "hey - that's pretty funny!"). A dozen fellow artist took up the challenge, with nine successfully completing all twenty-four pages (two of whom finished full pencils). Almost half of us were repeating champions and it was extra-spiffy to see so many new faces jump on-board. Keep an eye out for an upcoming post here with some pics of the UAF Wood Center display ...coming sooner than later!
Prior to the gig, I kept oscillating between a couple ideas that had been fermenting in the mental mulch-pile: a couple weeks back I had started idly jotting down excerpted passages from forty-eight of the top banned books thinking about maybe weaving a cohesive narrative out of them all into one weird story. Then that spun off into illustrating the Jack London short story "To Build A Fire" - which I had only read for the first time ever just a week ago and it knocked me out with all sorts of inspirational imagery arising unbidden from the brain. But at the last minute I recalled a rather lengthy joke that I had originally read many years ago, which I had neglected to write down, and seemed to always be almost about to remember, but not quite sure how it went (this is why I've long maintained cartoonists are "sit-down" comedians as opposed to "stand-up" mostly on account of having to write everything down before it gets forgotten). Anyways, a year or so ago I actually stumbled across another version, and so I set about for this event "making it mine" and putting a local spin on the storyline. In short, the longest dumb gag I've ever embarked upon.
After roughing out the panel pacement and placement in thumbnails and figuring out when and where to re-write and edit the text I could "relax" and settle in for the long haul.
While taking one my many frequent breaks I was reminded of a particular scene in John Carpenter's cult classic "Prince of Darkness" when the hapless group is barricaded and trapped inside the church, and the camera cuts away to a shot of the outside dawn with the surrounding city going about its business, blissfully unaware of what's going on inside that innocuous building. It's kinda like that during this event: watching the ebb and flow of normalcy lap around the microcosm of cartooning created by a band of like-minded talents all intent upon the same thing and all in the same boat. I love the breakout spells of contagious laughter that ripple around at the irrelevant absurdities which begin to infest the room after twelve hours of continual output. These are interspersed with ever-extending periods of silent intensity larded with a foggy and fatigued focus while riding out the second wave, and the fifth, and the eight one as well. It's always an internal debate as to when exactly one winds up officially hitting the wall: once again this year I found myself staring off into nothing after slipping out of gear again and again - but wait- maybe just one more pass at the pages...
Working in cascading waves of revision and tweaking I finished up penciling all my pages by 7pm: at the half-way mark I had all pages inked - sans detail, texture and wash, which took another five hours of work to call it done. Everything was done on regular drawing paper with three sizes of Sharpies and the ever faithful, omnipresent black-ink ball-point pen. Even managed to pass out on the floor for a few hours, as evidenced by this picture which mysteriously materialized on the memory card of my camera. Just kidding, that was actually taken at about eight hours into the evening, which isn't all that different from a normal Saturday night at the Comic Shop: finding some pitiful cartoon derelict sacked out somewhere. And a reminder that if you must leave drool-spots on the merchandise, at least make sure it's something from the H.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu Mythos, as the goo will undoubtedly enhance the gamer experience.
All said, the toughest part of the whole scene happened afterwards when it was time to get home and knock out a bunch of freelance spot illustrations and a few new editorial panels: now that's when the going gets tough. Not to mention sitting down to scan all the pages and paste 'em back together - almost as laborious a task as the event itself: speaking of which - look for my comic here in an upcoming post later this evening.
Special thanks to all the friends and support personnel who swung by to check in and drop off deliveries, and keep the creative juices flowing; a very special thanks goes out to Kevin and the staff at the Comic Shop; and especially Liz who volunteered to den mother! Fianlly and most importantly, a big huzzah to all of this year's participants!
"This is not a dream... not a dream. We are using your brain's electrical system as a receiver. We are unable to transmit through conscious neural interference. You are receiving this broadcast as a dream. We are transmitting from the year one, nine, nine, nine. You are receiving this broadcast in order to alter the events you are seeing. Our technology has not developed a transmitter strong enough to reach your conscious state of awareness, but this is not a dream.
You are seeing what is actually occurring for the purpose of causality violation."