The "24 Hour Comic" was invented by Scott McCloud. It's a fairly intimidating dare - create a 24 page comic in 24 continguous hours.
Not only does it require staying awake long enough to complete the challenge, for most of us it means drawing far more pages in a single day than we draw in an entire month - or in six months - or even in a year.
For someone like me, who's never drawn more than 2 pages in a single day and for whom it can take as long as 6 hours to complete a single page, this is a very, very significant challenge.
Scott's got all the credentials necessary to invent such a thing - he's the genius who explained the power of comics and the importance of the gap in "Understanding Comics"1 and the potential of the Art Form in "Reinventing Comics"1
I hope to take a class from Scott in July, so to help myself prepare I decided to take his challenge.
About the same time that I was getting ready for the challenge I discovered "Solitary Confinement", a group of people who were going to attempt a 24 Hour Comic during the same period.
The coincidences were auspiscious, so starting at 00:01 am the morning of June 12, 2002, I sat down at my table and started to draw.
The story which came immediately to mind is the "Full Metal Date" story line which I tried to draw last year but simply couldn't - it was far too difficult for me to keep up with.
Throughout the first 6 hours of the challenge I felt like I was going to be able to make it - somehow, I felt that I would begin drawing faster and faster and would be able to complete the 24 pages in time.
Unfortunately, I failed.
On the other hand, it was the most fabulous day of drawing I have ever experienced.
Sometime during that day - after crashing and recovering and getting back to drawing, I found myself holding one of my finished pages and feeling something that I really had never felt before.
I felt proud and totally pleased with something I had drawn.
It was mine, in a way that my own drawings and stories had never been before.
And not just that one page - I am totally psyched with all of the pages I created during the challenge and really fired up about the story line that came out of that day's planning.
I realized that I really enjoyed having drawn each page - as each step was finished I would sit back and just look at what I'd done; pencils, inks (when I used them) scanning, lettering, and the final web-ready page - every single step was totally enjoyable ^_^
I realized that it was far more important to me how much I was enjoying drawing and telling my story than how long it was taking. It was a fabulous feeling, and that feeling is still with me today.
In a lot of ways I can't remember having drawn this 24 hour comic, and as I look through the pages it still seems like someone else must have done it, but I know when I sit back down at my table that I am very capable of doing it again, and again. That's a fantastic feeling.
I may have "failed" the 24 hour comic, but in all ways it was a total success for me.
I owe Scott a tremendous debt, and I hope that everyone else participating in Solitary Confinement" has luck as good as mine.
If you haven't tried the 24 Hour Comic, I highly recommend it - I know that I will be trying it again. ^_^
Ciaran, 14 June 2002