Tuesday, August 30, 2005

OK, just a little more on 24-Hour Comics and the extreme variations -- prompted by emails from some readers:

According to
  • this official-sounding source,
  • the rules are as follows:

    "As originator of the challenge, Scott McCloud has established rules for a comic to qualify: It must be begun and completed within 24 consecutive hours. Only one person may be directly involved in its creation, and it must span 24 pages, or (if an infinite canvas format webcomic is being made) 100 panels."

    The latter was news to me, but as I consider only life "an infinite canvas" (though that may change profoundly in the wake of the Bush years), but what the hell. Continuing:

    "The creator may think about it beforehand and gather research materials and drawing tools, but cannot put anything on paper until he is ready for the 24 hours to begin. Any breaks (for food, sleep, or any other purpose) are counted as part of the 24 hours."

    Relevent to this passage of the "rules," a poster named 'kc' posted the following on cartoonist Ryan Armand's blog (see below for link, in due time):

    "Is it cheating if I already have a story in mind for a 24 hour comic? It feels like I'm cheating."

    Well, maybe -- you'd have to consult with Scott, I guess. For the record, when I did mine, I believed not thinking about it beforehand was a prerequisite; I've no evidence of that having been a "rule," or a rule that was later revised, but that was my understanding at the time. Scott did prepare, in that he visited a library and brought home a random stack of books for inspiration. Knowing that, I reckon the "think about it beforehand and gather research materials" was and is groovy, but I'll say this:

    For me, it was liberating to not prepare or "think about it beforehand." There was a clarity that arrived, and I can say for a fact that I never, ever would have manifested/channeled/created (choose your mediation flow) "A Life in Black and White" had I meditated at all upon a possible subject or focal point. In clearing my head (a rare event), something unbidden bubbled up, and amid that a fragment of half-remembered text also drifted to the fore (from Charles G. Finney's The Circus of Dr. Lao, one of my favorite books), becoming somehow vital to the narrative destination point that presented itself.

    Back to the online encyclopedia's rules:

    "If the cartoonist fails to finish the comic in 24 hours, there are two courses of action suggested: stop the comic at the 24-hour mark, or continue working until all 24 pages are done. The former is known as "the Gaiman variation", after Neil Gaiman's unsuccessful attempt, and the latter is called "the Eastman variation", after Kevin Eastman's unsuccessful attempt. Scott McCloud considers both of these to be "noble failures", and he'll still list them on his site as long as he believes that the creator intended to finish the project within the specified amount of time."

    Ah, noble failure; I know it well.

    But at least I was a noble "success" with the 24-Hour Comic!

    In seeking the most extreme variation (that was not a "noble failure" variant), the wonder of email brought this to my box this morn, as if it were the answer to my quest, courtesy of the amazing Mr. Ryan Estrada:

    "My name's Ryan Estrada. I recently did a 168 Hour Comic. The reason I mention it is because the introduction to the comic is a
    history of challenge comics. But not a real history, a sleep deprived crazy history full of lies. And it talks about you. You can read it..."
  • here.

  • But, hey, before you jump over there, read on; it gets better.

    "Recently," it turns out, was earlier this month -- just about three weeks ago. All this manic activity, in Asia and in Brattleboro, before the October 7th "24 Hour Comic Day"!

    In his text intro to the Incredible 168 (actually 172) Hour Comic, Ryan writes:

    "For those of you just tuning in, here's what's happening and why. In 1990, Scott McCloud invented the 24 Hour Comic. A challenge to draw a 24 page comic book in 24 hours. Many artists took the challenge, and in 2004, Nat Gertler started 24 Hour Comics Day. I was one of the thousands of people to take the challenge that day, heading up the South Korea team. Sadly, I only finished 12 pages. I decided to go into training, so I would be better off the following year. I did the first 48 Hour Comic. (If you look on the features page of my site, all of the comics with exclamation points are excerpts from the 48 hour comic). It worked out so well, I did a 72 hour comic shortly thereafter. I planned a 96 hour comic, but decided instead to go to tsunami relief in Thailand. While I was doing that, Behrooz Shahriari did a 100 hour comic, and smashed my record. This last 24 hour comic day, I succesfully finished my 24 pages. The training is complete, but now, I have a record to get back. Now, it's personal. You're going down, Bez."

    Noble intentions, however base the drive ("you're going down, Bez" -- so now, it's Red Harvest in the timed-comics-marathon sweepstakes). But Ryan was in for a rude awakening; later in his profusely-illustrated blog, he writes:

    "I just got an e-mail from another Ryan. Ryan Armand. He cracked a joke on Comixpedia last week that he was going to steal my thunder by doing a casually done 168 hour comic this week while I was working on this one. At least, I thought it was a joke. Apparently it wasn't. He says he finished his 168 hour comic this afternoon, after working on it a few hours a day all this week. And it's up online here. He even blogged about it... If someone is messin' with me, they're doing a real good job. And if no one is messin with me, than I say this; Ryan Armand, you are awesome. But I guess I have to keep going. I don't want to tie."

    Tie? How about, you don't want to die?. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Go, Ryan!

    Now, this is madness, but it's intoxicating madness, eh? You talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk.

    On Ryan Armand's blog -- the relevent portion is
  • here
  • -- there's some really lively strutting still in view:

    “So apparently one Ryan Estrada is making a 168 hour comic... That's like a 24 hour comic, times seven. He'll be awake the whole time maybe, and it will be a feat of iron man comic making... and I think that that is just ridiculous. To show how ridiculous and simple a feat it actually is, over the same amount of time that he spends on the comic, I too will make a 168 page comic. Except I will do it very casually, while getting plenty of sleep, spending copious amounts of time arguing on the interwebs about nothing, playing cinematic soccer games on my SNES, watch a complete japanese drama series(or two?) and maybe jogging.”

    What a glorious braggart, what an imperial pig! This is hilarious. And now, what was inherently a non-competitive creative challenge (one is, after all, tidily in 'competition' with oneself in Scott's original concept) has now turned into -- Iron Cartoonist! An online arena sport!

    To paraphrase David Lo Pan (to be read aloud in the appropriate reedy James Wong voice), "Two 168-Hour Comics -- what can it mean?"

    So, I extend my warmest respects to both Ryans -- here's hoping you've since caught up on your sleep.

    And to think, all this hyper-activity happened this month.

    Ryan Armand's finished product is
  • on this site
  • -- go ahead, check it out.

    I just hope we don't arrive at the first escalating-competitive-extension of the 24-Hour Comic resulting in death rather than mere bravado, wild comics that wouldn't otherwise exist (sweet nectar!) and madness. It's becoming a bit like frat-party drinking binges, and too-little-sleep and too-much-caffeine (or whatever) can, after all, take a mortal toll, too.

    Long before Scott invented the 24-hour comic, much less Ryan and Ryan inventing the 168-hour-comic, Gene Day did himself in via such a route (meeting Marvel deadlines while living on coffee and air). I'd hate to see it happen again in a whirlwind of competing 475-Hour-Comic marathons -- shit, losing Gene Day was bad enough. We need every standing cartoonist we can get in this dire age. And besides, Scott would forever blame himself.

    For anyone interested, Ryan Estrada's full site -- which is quite an astounding record of not only his marathon comic-creation binges and psychic purges, but also his time in Asia, is
  • here.

  • "Keep on rocking, brother," indeed!


    On to other matters:

    I am currently struggling with my perception of what makes a graphic novel an inherently different form, and teaching the evolution of the graphic novel (as part of my CCS ciriculum) this year.

    To that end, Eddie Campbell and I have been trading some emails back-and-forth, and CCS founder (and grand cartoonist) James Sturm and I have also exchanged words a bit more emphatically; we'll see where it all ends up.

    The central role of the utilitarian format of serialized periodical publication in traditional comic book form of expansive works that are conceived as (or, more to the point, evolve into) graphic novels is the most fascinating bone of contention, it seems, and one I'm relishing just now.

    More on this topic on another day.

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