Saturday, October 10, 2015

Recap: 24 Hour Comics Day - Alaska 2015

We had a splendid turnout this year (the ninth so far) with twenty-four folks taking part in the challenge… and three successfully completing their twenty-four pages in twenty-four hours. A very diverse group of varying ages, ability, genders and ethnicities (just like the collective demographics of both comics readership and their creators in general). Plus this event has the added bonus of giving the general public and aficionados alike a chance to wander through and check out the process behind the pages, offer some encouragement, and maybe even gain a deeper understanding + appreciation for the medium of sequential art. (More after the jump)

There were a lot of people who just dropped in to draw for however many hours that they had free, and then there are always the ones who succumb to the inexorable pull of sleep deprivation. Whatever reason and for however long, it’s always a treat to simply check in and hang out with an awesome artistic community that makes events like this a really great time. I always get turned on by other people sharing their insights, favorites, current happenings, materials and more… this sort of place surrounded by likeminded practitioners... it’s like a cartoon buffet.

As usual there was a fantastic range of styles on display, a veritable smorgasbord of techniques and tales to tell. Seeing firsthand all the different works in progress is always such an inspiration – actually finishing is a notable accomplishment to be sure, but is really somewhat secondary to the scene.

And speaking of inspiration – how could you possibly go wrong being holed up, in of all conceivable venues, a comic shop? A perfect setting to foment imagination and provide a common ground to meet, and make the very material that eventually, hopefully, winds up on these same shelves. Indeed that's part of the rational behind holding the book release party for my comics course at this same location.

As evidenced by the sign they put up reserving the tournament room there were a fair number of folks slightly inconvenienced by our setting up camp and disrupting the normal flow of events – but after the previous eight years  of being crammed in the back we were finally afforded the real estate to spread out. And as one can tell from some of the other panoramic group shots posted here we certainly put the increased table space to good use.

Incidentally I picked up some spiffy books for the coffee-table, studio and classroom: the Comics Journal Library Volume 9 “ZAP – The Interviews,” Adventure Time’s “The Art of Ooo,” Miyazaki’s “The Art of Princess Mononoke,” Kate Beaton’s second collection of Hark, A Vagrant strips “Step Aside, Pops,” issue #2 of Brandon Graham/Emma Rios’ “Island” by various artists, the handsome hardcover re-release of “Miracleman” (book one), and scored Saga #5. Not a bad haul!

Our official mascot Delilah looked absolutely delighted to partake in the ¾ mark critique!

Sometimes a lot of the challenge is dealing with being out of the normal environment for most artists, who might not be used to or even comfortable drawing in public, even in a respectful + supportive crowd. There’s also this concurrent event that is getting some attention called “InkTober” I might opt for after next year. Not that I’m retiring by any means, but I’m seriously contemplating letting go og the reins after a decade each in teaching and helming events such as this – time to switch efforts into a handful of other directions.

Anyways, back to the party: the noise and interruptions (if you’re like me and go headphone-free, can be a distraction, even annoyance – not to mention tired + cranky kicking in for me after maintaining many hours of intense focus. So the logistics of such gatherings aren’t for everyone – I know a handful of outstanding individuals that always opt to do their own thing in there own way, which is totally cool. Another aspect is the adrenaline and excitement you can get from participating in group gigs like this, oftentimes it really amps up the output – but that pressure is at times hard to sustain, especially over so many successive hours. Still, it really puts into perspective the sheer amount of work one can produce effectively in one sitting. Transposing that onto a normal work-week is in actuality the hardest challenge of all.

What a difference twelve hours makes... just add coffee

Missed a lot of folks who couldn’t make it this year but reconnected with some friends and made some new ones who had interesting and novel conversations, not to mention just listening in to the background after spans of long silences of concentration. In-between frequent breaks, social media updates, bathroom runs, perusing the shelves, there was an endless river of coffee punctuated by deliveries of pizza, donuts and breakfast biscuits. And more coffee. Good to every so often get up for a stretch and check outside on the weather, which has been somewhat of a random insanity as of late up in this neck of the woods.

The sample excerpted pages from mine look so comparatively simple now in retrospect, but believe me it’s a transcendent phenomenon to get tunnel vision and consequently sucked right into the vast, almost limitless expanse of a single page – especially right around the half-way mark it can be equal parts daunting and downright exhilarating. And like most art it always looks better live and in person.

Tried out a new pad of Strathmore 330 Series Mixed Media paper (11x14”) as I never take it serious enough to merit Bristol Board (or maybe not as intimidating/inhibiting) and using the usual regular-weight Sketch paper buckles and warps a bit too much. So experimenting with this surface yielded some pleasant results: not too bad for both extremes of inking (dip pens w/India inks – both Speedball Super Black + Dr. Phil Martin’s Bombay Black – in conjunction with washes of water-soluble pencils (Derwent).

Didn’t do half as much as I originally intended, and about just as much was a total surprise to see come out the other end of the pen. There was an awful lot that got left out on the floor of the mental editing room (not to mention physically wadded up and tossed in the trash). It’s always interesting to observe the ebb and flow of ideas when coming up with content on the fly, making creative choices for both clarity and consistency, and obviously the triage that occurs when the clock starts to wind down …physically as well, I might add!

Setting aside several hours at the end to accommodate application of the final washes plus making allowances for a block of time at the onset for a loose script + rough thumbnails means there isn’t as tidy an idealistic division of time as the logical one-page-per-hour = twenty-four pages in 24 hours framework.

At the end I think it’ll make for a good jumping-off point for a stand-alone project in the future, one of many concepts for longer book-length works I’ll shovel into the proverbial compost heap for later on. In the meantime, however, one idea I have is to maybe either Kickstart and/or do a print-on-demand compilation of my collected 24 Hour Comics Day results, all bundled into one volume …after all, what with the appropriate numbers of years successfully completing the requite pages, I now have the material for quite the auspicious title: “24/7.”

The breadth + dept of the talent on display this year was really just incredible. Some (most definitely not all) of the folks who sat in for the festivities included: Whittier StrongJeff MojicaBethany Eisenman, Hannah Beck, Shannon Waterbury, Robin Feinman, Kelsey Gobroski, Katie Tasky, Bob Grunditz, Ryan PierceAnita Ashbaugh.
Special Thanks to the support crew who kept us supplied with copious libations + victuals: My Significant Otter, plus Tom + Nelda Nixon, Sarah Shaw, Tania Clucas, Alex Bates, Robin Feinman + last but not least Kevin & staff @ The Comic Shop!

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