24 Hour Comics Day - Chicago

Update 10/21/10: Here is a link to the completed comics created at Graham Crackers Comics in Edgewater, along with a video shot on location by Cameron Keleher!

Busy, busy artists at Challengers Comics
With the changing of the leaves comes the desire to lock one's self inside their apartment and hibernate for several months (at least that is the urge here in Chicago, where the nightly temperature is dipping closer to 30 degrees every night). Perhaps that is why 24 Hour Comics Day works so well as an annual fall event; it's a great catalyst to keep creators motivated during the cold winter months. Here's the gist of the project: create a 24-page comic book in 24 hours. The experience forces artists to finish a complete comic book, typos, scribbles and all. No more putting off that idea, or waiting to be inspired. Besides the opportunity to overcome creative blocks it's also great exposure, with all of the completed works scanned and hosted on websites for public viewing (see above links), and a few are selected each year for publishing, though these anthologies have not been collected the last few years (thanks friendly reader!).

This year the event was held on a particularly windy and rainy day in Chicago, the kind of perfect weather to be stuck inside of a comic book store creating non-stop for a day. I was able to catch the artists in action at Graham Crackers Comics in Edgewater, as well as Challengers Comics in Bucktown. (The only other store within city limits that participated was The Comics Vault, and unfortunately I was unable to make it out to their store.) Between the two stores I witnessed close to 30 comic book illustrators hard at work. Their experiences varied from professionals like Mike Norton and Chris Burnham to amateurs not yet old enough to see PG-13 films. Everyone brought his or her own methods to attacking the task at hand. Some came prepared with thumbnails, ready to do the final sketches, while others showed up without the slightest clue as to what would be their story. Several hours into the day artists had concepts such as, “This Predator is an outsider on his planet,” or “One word: Batrace.” (I’m betting both of these stories will be stimulating reads once they are put online.) Though pencils and ink were the most popular tools amongst artists, there were at least a few working digitally with Wacom tablets, a handful of brave souls attempting to color their works, and there was no general consensus for artwork size.

The best way to describe what it’s like to view a few dozen artists feverishly working round the clock is to say it’s like visiting a comic book factory. You get to see everything from start to finish, and by the end of the tour you are very anxious to sample the goods. Of course, comic book factories don’t really have artists on an assembly line, handing pages off to the press (maybe in Japan). No, this is more like how a 7 or 8 year old imagines a comic book factory, making it a lot cooler than the reality of publishing on a large scale. If this event doesn’t make you want to read comics, the sequential arts might not be the hobby for you.

In addition to a strong urge to read comics, 24 Hour Comics Day gave me a great respect for the creators, and particularly for their courage to actually draw in public. The thought of doing this gives me sweaty, sweaty palms. Hopefully next year I can work up the courage to attempt to join in the fun; my lack of skills aside, the ambition shared by participants was contagious. Here are some more pictures of artists hard at work to get you excited for next year!

Graham Crackers, Edgewater - More artists came as the day continued, but these are the dedicated early birds
I didn't see this guy get up once for a break ( I was only there for 4 hours though)
More pictures from Graham Crackers and Challengers Comics after the jump...

You are totally jealous of Jaali's Iron Man sketch
Being surrounded by inspiration has to be one of the best things about 24 Hour Comics Day.

All of the participants old enough to view Rated R films received passes to see Red, along with a free copy of the comic book
You may notice that Challengers is....different. Opening just in time to house several artists for the event, the Gallery + Lounge is officially open! The first gallery show will (details pending) be December 3rd, with the Walking Dead preview screening in the gallery on Halloween!
This gentleman wasn't terribly chatty but he was obviously hard at work drawing his comic on a Wacom tablet
My hand cramps just looking at this image
Click on the image for a larger, more detailed view. I believe it says "Snake Punch"
The only female artist at Challengers putting the finishing touches on a page
Manager Pat Brower acting very casual for the camera