NanNoWriMo. Kino Cabarets. The 48 Hour Film Challenge. Blitz. The Indie Game Jam. The challenge of conceptualizing, creating and completing an artistic endeavor over the course of a limited time period is something has gained considerably currency in recent years. Be it a novel, a short film, a stage production or a game, it's the pressure of a ticking clock that drives the process, the overt trial of a one-time deadline.
"I think that a lot of artists, writers and filmmakers who do it for fun and not for a job have trouble finding the time," says Daniella Echeverria, looking to explain one possible reason for the popularity of these kinds of events. She is responsible for bringing what is arguably the oldest such challenge to Madison, the 24 hour comic. The goal? Participants will try to create from scratch a 24 page comic book over the course of 24 continuous hours.
Kicked off in 1990 by cartoonists Scott McCloud and Steve Bissette, the challenge gradually morphed into a subgenre in the comics community. It launched as an organized, one-date event for the first time in 2004, just as these kinds of artistic trials really started getting popular.
Madison is getting its own edition of the challenge this year, organized by Echeverria, to take root at the Escape Coffee Gallery on Willy Street at noon this Saturday, Oct. 7. For the following rotation of the planet, participants will engage in not only what she grants is "probably not" the best way to make a great comic, but is an exercise to test one's creative capacity, like the other kinds of challenges.
Echeverria explained the basics in an event announcement she published on the Madison LiveJournal community, including the basic rules, the prohibition on direct preparation, and the avenues for participants who are unable to complete their work in time, with more details available on the project's MySpace page. "The best part about this is that everyone is going to be really supportive of each other and push themselves to finish their comic books (or novels or films)," she says. "I think that's what makes these events so unique."
The Daily Page asked Echeverria several questions about 24 Hour Comics Day. Her responses follow below.
The Daily Page: You have described what a 24 hour comic is. Can you describe how one creates a comic in 24 hours?
Echeverria: I think it's up to each individual to really decide the best way to make their comic their own. A few people are going to be making their comics online and another is going to take a bunch of photos and make them into a comic. Its going to be fantastic to see all the different ways people express themselves.
Have you previously made a comic in 24 hours?
I haven't! It's going to be a whole new experience for me. It will also be the longest comic I've ever written. I am terrified and thrilled for the challenge.
How difficult (or easy) do you anticipate it might be?
I suspect that it will be pretty difficult, for me, at least. What is supposed to take about a month to do we are going to cram into a 24 hour sleep deprived period. But I think all that pressure will make for some really interesting comics and a lot of fun supporting each other.
Will people be expected (or encouraged) to do at least some of their work at Escape? Will Escape be open all 24 hours?
Some artists have told me that they can't make it for a part of the 24 hours, which is completely fine. By the same token, if they have something going on Saturday night and need to leave for a few hours that's fine too. But the important thing to remember is that the clock is still ticking. At noon on Sunday all the pens go down. We have reserved a room and Escape is being very supportive and wonderful about it and letting us hang out there for the extra 6 hours that they wouldn't normally be open.
Why have you organized this challenge?
I was really surprised when I found out about this a few months ago that Madison didn't have its own 24 Hour Comics Day. I thought it was such a great idea and it was a shame to let it go to waste in a city so full of creative people. It provides a really wonderful creative outlet and I knew that there are people in Madison that really wanted to do something like this.
What do "the Gaiman variation" and "the Eastman variation" mean?
They both refer to the first 24 Hour comic challenge back in 1990, the original six artists were Scott McCloud, Stephen R. Bissette, Dave Sim, Rick Veitch, Neil Gaiman, and Kevin Eastman. Neil Gaiman was unable to finish 24 pages in 24 hours, he was only able to do 13 plus a cover. And Kevin Eastman just wouldn't give up and finished his 24 pages in 50 hours.
What kind of comics are you hoping to see produced?
I hope to see a diversity of comics! Manga, superheros, alternative, drama, comedy, sci-fi, fantasy, as long as everyone is having a good time, I'll be happy.
Will you be doing anything with the completed works? Displaying them, or anything like that?
Well, with all the participant's permissions I think it would be fantastic to put up our comics on the 24 Hour Comic Madison Flickr pool. That way we can share it with whoever wants to see them.