24hr Comic Day 2009

24hr Comic Day was yesterday, October 3rd.

It was my third consecutive year participating. As usual, the SEQA department hosted the event by keeping Norris Hall open all night, but it seemed like there were a minimal amount of people actually participating this year. The designated times were from 10am Saturday morning to 10am Sunday morning, but at ten, there was hardly anyone around. Gradually, more and more trickled in, but probably 80% of the people in the building at any given time were only taking advantage of the extended building hours to do homework and hang out rather than participating in 24hr, even those that were still around in the dead of night and wee hours of morning. Oh, well.

Anyway, I’ll post the comic first and then continue rambling after it.

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After my first incredibly mediocre year of walking into the event blind and with no idea of what I was going to draw, I decided to adapt NaNoWriMo‘s pre-event rules to 24hr instead. Namely, I allow myself to think about and thumbnail my comic beforehand — as long as I don’t actually draw any part of the final product, I’m good. Last year this worked out very well and I finished with about two hours to spare; as it only takes me about an hour or so to thumbnail if I’m really focused, I could have probably just done it there really… This year, my plan had been to do a story about these two characters, but when I was thumbing the pages last week, I got really bored, really fast. Their story is pretty simple and it was just really difficult stretching it out to 24 pages and however many panels — it would be better as a series of children’s book-style illustrations.

So Friday night, super last-minute, I threw together a really retarded story with RAINBOWS AND SUNFLOWERS AND UNICORNS because I really had no other ideas. My idea book is full of things that needed to be rendered “seriously” in a “serious” style, which would take too long for 24hr — I needed something that would work in a simpler, chibi style. This comic doesn’t have a title yet, though I’m tempted to just use “RAINBOWS AND SUNFLOWERS AND UNICORNS” even though the character is actually a dicorn. :> Apparently all my characters here are really, really androgynous here (which is just as well, really), but the main kid is a boy, Rarukyo, who I’ve used in a few other random comics and school assignments. The bedridden kid is his sister, Yukue, who has appeared alongside him in some of the aforementioned comics, though they’re both usually depicted older (not that you can tell) and Yukue has a swatch of bleached-white hair. The dicorn child is also supposed to be a boy, though I don’t think he’s ever been particularly masculine. (Not wearing pants doesn’t help his case, does it?) Then again, he’s a freakin’ unicorn dicorn. Maybe horned horses just don’t have genders. ._. I guess the rabbit is a man, ’cause really, how many female cab drivers have you ever met? As a side note, I’m not really sure why Charlie (Raru’s crocodile friend) didn’t make it into this comic.

Saturday morning, Cat was nice enough to drop me off at Norris even though she wasn’t going to be participating. The place was seriously deserted. I settled in my favorite classroom on the third floor (the same place I was last year), set up my corner with laptop, pages, sketchbook of thumbs, etc, and started drawing at ten exactly. Not long after, a pair of underclassmen girls and an animation major guy I recognized from last year also settled in the room. Later on, two friends of this group came in (neither of whom were doing 24hr), and later still, Juliana, Karen, and some other folks came in, though none of them were working on 24hr either. It was quiet until my playlist at the time hit my Pokemon RBY playlist, which is just all the tunes from the game. Pokemon seems to always has this power to strike up nostalgia-ridden conversation and the room was instantly more united as a result. After Pokemon was some Sonic, DDR, and Katamari music.

I have two strategically room-waking and uniting playlists for 24hr. One is my Disney singalong playlist and one is my epic 90’s cartoon and TV show theme song playlist. Both are highly effective in rousing the room in deafening, unifying chorus, waking everyone up, and recharging them to work on their pages. Last year, I played the cartoon themes in the mid-afternoon and the Disney songs late in the night. It was clear that the themes were more effective than the Disney, so this year, I decided to save them both for strategic times… lol, 24hr is serious business. In the quiet mid-afternoon lull after Katamari, the Disney singalong began!

In the first there or four hours, I penciled my pages straight through to around 15 and then started inking 1) because I was tired of penciling, and 2) because I was having some page count issues. When I had thumbnailed it Friday night, I had too many pages at around 25 or 26. I was too tired to fix it then, but just started condensing some of the pages together when I penciled them Saturday morning. This proved too effective though since I always underestimate how much room I actually have on each page. I started to realize I wasn’t going to have enough pages. :| So I stopped penciling and started inking to put off having to think about it. Besides, I had picked up some new Copic multiliners on Friday and wanted to test them out. (They are awesome.)

A few hours blurred by in inking. It was surprisingly steady work and I was neither sleepy nor tired for a long time. After the Disney singalong, we launched into my bipolar mix, which I had originally prepared as something to listen to while we drove to Atlanta for AWA; it’s a pretty long mix where I consciously tried to arrange the play order so that every song classes utterly with the song before and after it (you know, ALI PROJECT back to back with Postal Service and Kagerou). It has the bonus plus of containing a lot of songs I can sing to, which kept me “into” work and rather focused.

We were supposed to have pizza provided around seven, but as that never happened for one reason or another, the entirety of my room left to go find food down Broughton St. around 8:30 pm. I opted to stay to keep working and to hold down the fort and they promised to bring me back leftovers. They were gone for at least an hour, maybe two; in the interim, Cat and Lizz swung by and gave me their leftovers from Carlito’s. But no eating utensils. Oh well. We don’t need forms to eat a mushy pile-up of burritos and salad, right? When the rest of the room returned, I gained two slices of pizza and a box of sesame chicken, which would sit aside until later.

After everyone had settled in again and we had pretty much reached the end of my bipolar mix, we continued with what’s now apparently a 24hr Comic Day tradition in any room I occupy: we watched Swat Katz on the big projector screen. This year, most of the room had never seen it before, so we started again from the beginning. I didn’t much pay attention though and kept working. I had penciled a few more pages, but was still mostly inking… and let me just say… inking fields of flowers is deceptively difficult. You’d think it’d be easy because honestly, it’s not that much to look at when you’re done, but making tons and tons of dots, circles, and lines is really tiring for your hand and wrist. >_> I was really fickle about wearing my brace because I hadn’t drawn much with it on all summer and wasn’t used to inking with it on anymore. Curved lines were especially difficult, which sucked since all of their heads are circle-blobs and I had a lot of speech bubbles… so I was mostly only wearing it when I penciled since those lines weren’t as important.

Six or seven episodes of Swat Katz later, the room started to lose interest and devolved into watching random YouTube videos. So I put on my headphones and blared Dir en grey because they are best listened to loud and kept working… was started to get really tired though — not necessarily sleepy, but definitely tired. I took a few breaks to walk around the building to see who else was still around, but as the hours waned, more and more people disappeared. The professors that were supposed to be providing “emotional support” were also few and far between, hiding in their offices, and it was pretty clear that most of them would rather be home. Possibly sleeping. Very, very few people were working on a 24hr comic. Lame.

They had coffee downstairs and Cat and Lizz came back by around 1am to give me a thermos full of double-bagged tea. My hand was thoroughly upset by 2-3am and I had to keep the wrist brace on most of the time. My hand eventually got re-accustomed to the damn thing and my inking straightened out a little, but it’s pretty obvious in a lot of places that my curved lines and ellipses weren’t the best. I was also starting to notice more and more continuity mistakes, with characters losing accessories between panels… apparently it’s not that obvious to other people, so maybe I’m just acutely aware of these things since I was, uh, staring at these pages for a day. ;X

At 3am, the request for the pick-me-up, 90’s cartoon and TV mix came, and so there it was. It is always kind of amusing to see how excited people always get when certain things play and how many random themes I apparently have that people have completely forgotten about (like the Reading Rainbow, Salute Your Shorts, 2 Stupid Dogs, Pirates of Dark Water). And of course, all the old classics get sung in loud, obnoxious unison: Captain Planet, Power Rangers, the Pokemon, Digimon, Dragonball Z, and Sailor Moon dub themes, Animaniacs, Tiny Toons, Powerpuff Girls, Duck Tales, TMNT, etc. We even drew a few random folks from other rooms to come sing when they heard the commotion. Good times.

After that, the rest of the room went back to their YouTube videos a while before putting in my Batman: The Animated Series episodes, another 24hr tradition, it seems. Around 4-6am, I really felt like just passing out from tiredness. It is during those hours that I played around with the idea of just not finishing within 24 hours, because really, what is there to gain but street cred and bragging rights? The comic was cute and I liked it, so wouldn’t it be better if I spent more time on it later, made it better, etc? But I drank some more tea, ate the leftover pizza, and trudged on. Besides, I had no way to get home until at least 9am because Cat wasn’t going to pick me up until then and the buses don’t start running until like. 11am. And I sure as hell wasn’t going to walk with armfuls of junk, paper, T-squares, and bags, not to mention my giant 20 lb laptop. Curling up under a table somewhere to sleep didn’t sound too bad an idea either though.

I flitted back and forth from feeling very ahead of schedule and worrying about being able to finish on time. At the nineteen-hour mark around 5am, I still didn’t know how I was going to fit in a 24th page because my story could have ended at 23. I took more frequent breaks in mostly-vain attempts to pacify my ailing wrist and walked around. The building was mostly empty by then. The security guard was asleep at the front desk. I eventually re-penciled my 23rd page so the last page could be the full-page spread — originally the last page was a panel taking up the bottom 2/3 of the 23rd page and the box didn’t explode. Oh well. I like playing around with minimalistic panels and negative space anyway.

There was a beautiful sunrise this morning. I completely missed the sunset because I was so busy working, but I was very scatterbrained by the time the sun rose so I noticed it. It was very pink. I finished inking the last few pages rather unceremoniously. My lines were so screwy by then that I had to retrace them many times and I went back to add/fix a few things in previous pages after I was done inking the 24th. So I finished the comic around 8am, went back and did touch-ups for another half hour, started erasing my pencils and then decided I really didn’t give a damn anymore and declared it done.

Went to scan my pages, ate some freshly provided doughnuts, called Cat, handed my pages to the professor on duty, and then went home~~~. Showered, hung up my blackout curtains over the bright and happy sunshine, and then promptly crashed for nine hours from ten to seven.

Overall, I’m very pleased with my comic this year. Doing pictographs for dialogue was super fun, if a bit tiring because drawing pictures for words is more time-consuming than just writing the damn words. I was kind of worried about how clear some of the pictographs were, but no one who read it yesterday reported any issues, except one person who did not recognize the Battleship panel immediately as Battleship. :< I think some of my pacing is awkward, especially near the middle and end because I wasn’t sure about how everything was going to stretch/fit. I also don’t think either of my full panel spreads needed to be full panel spreads except the last one, but whatever… full panels means less drawing for me! >_> Besides, they’re still within my random personal rule of only allowing 1/8th of all the pages to be full panel spreads (meaning only 3 of my 24 can be full panels).

I kind of wanted to add color to this, particularly for the rainbows and sunflowers, but I think that would have looked weird. The whole thing could be in color pretty easily though… I dunno. I was thinking of slapping this whole thing together along with some extra illustrations as a minicomic for EXPCon this coming weekend, but I doubt I’ll have time to get everything formatted and put together. There is always the SCAD Zine Fair in a few weeks, but it’d be the only thing I have to sell…? Blah. Anyway, I don’t know if I’ll get to do 24hr Comic Day next year since I will most likely graduate in the spring and I imagine the venture would be a lot harder to do sitting alone in my room, even with my awesome playlists and cartoons. We’ll see!