So my 24 Hour Comic is done…in many more than 24 hours. It is fully posted and I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on the process and consider what went right and what went wrong. Here are 5 reasons why I failed to complete my comic in 24 hours:
Lack of preparation
The first two items on this list are different aspects of the same issue but it’s at the heart of why I didn’t complete my comic in 24 hours. A big part of the problem was that in the weeks prior to 24HCD, I kept vacillating as to whether or not I was actually going to do it. With everything we had going on I wasn’t sure that it was ok to remove myself from my family for such a chunk of time. But my wife talked me into at least giving it a shot, so at the last minute I decided to do it. This means I really wasn’t prepared mentally, physically or schedule-wise. The take away for next time: Be prepared! Be well rested. Have the scheduled cleared. Complete regular practice pages in the weeks leading up to 24HCD – a page an hour, 2 pages in an hour, 5 pages in 4 hours etc.
Because I committed myself at the last moment I wasn’t in the right state of mind for the task. I knew I was ill prepared. I knew it was a long shot that I get anywhere close to completing (see item 5 below). I went it to it thinking “Well, I’m probably not going to be able to complete this but let’s just see how much I can get done.” I don’t think it was a bad mindset. It allowed me to keep plowing through as the night wore on and I feel further and further and irretrievably further behind. I don’t even think it was a bad mindset for completing the comic. Because I ultimately did complete it. It was just the wrong mindset for completing the comic in 24 hours. I think to do it right you have to be focused and committed and convinced of your ability to complete the task. Well, I have to be. There are probably people who could go into this with a la-de-da attitude and crank out 24 pages and never break a sweat. But that’s not me. The take away for next time: Get psyched up. Use practice sessions to prove my ability to complete pages quickly.
Part of the “not properly prepared” problem. I read advice in the Blitz Comic 24HCD Survival Kit about not using expensive materials so as not to feel overly precious about the work. I like using my rapidographs and feel they currently give me the most control so I went with those and my nod to low cost materials was to use printer card stock instead of Bristol. Well, the pens and the paper didn’t really get along too well, and I spent a huge chunk of time right out of the gate messing with the pens and checking my Bristol supply to see if I should switch, and just basically fiddling with my materials. I ended up switching to Micon pens and sticking with the card stock. Ultimately I lost a solid half an hour right out of the gate which didn’t do much for my mindset. The take away for next time: Try out different materials beforehand during practice sessions. Identify the ones that I am most comfortable and can work fastest with, and make sure I have plenty of those in working order.
I’m not sure if my strategy was faulty but I have to consider it. It seems a lot of people that have success with this challenge do all work of a kind in a single go, that is, they do all their thumbnails, then do all the pencils, then do all the inks, and then do all the color (if any). Two problems I have with that approach. First, I need to mix things up a bit otherwise I think I’d go nuts. I could probably do any one of those tasks for a long stretch in a regular day but to do them all one right after another would be too much. Especially to end with eight or nine hours of inking? I don’t think I’m built for that. The other problem is that part of the benefit of this challenge is the extra creative boost you get toward the end of the project after you’ve gone through the long, dark night of adversity and endurance and you’re coming into the home stretch of the last few hours, running on sleep deprivation, creative exhaustion, caffeine and the residual dopamine hits of 23 (or however many) completed pages. It seems a shame to waste that juice on just inking. All the creation and storytelling happens in the thumbs, so to do all the thumbs up front when you’re fresh and normal seems to squander an opportunity. I tried to do thumbs, pencils, and inks in batches of 4 pages. That way the story arc would be more closely aligned to my mental state as the evening progressed. I’m holding final judgment on this one until I’ve had one more go at it. I think it still could work for me, if I’m better prepared, more mentally ready etc.
I’m just too damn slow
A double edged sword here because I feel most connecting to the work when I’m noodling away for hours over a drawing. That’s when I’m most in the zone, but it’s also where I often end up getting off the path to ‘done’. And hence a big part of the reason (for me anyway) to do this. To work against type and stretch against strengths. Part of the reason Scott McCloud came up with the original challenge was because he was lamenting his own lack of comicing agility. Or maybe it was Steve Bissette who was lamenting. In any case, the challenge is to get as much done as possible, as quickly as possible. The take away for next time: I have to keep reminding myself that with this one – more so than most – it’s the journey and not the destination. But the journey has a time limit!
I can’t be considered ready in any remote sense of the word, but I’m going to give it a go and see how far I get. Follow my progress here and on twitter where I tweet as @ThreePoint. Let me know what you think about what I’m doing. I can’t guarantee a response any time soon but I promise I’ll get to it!
Thanks to the Eisner nominations I have just discovered the amazing Zahara’s Paradise. 14 chapters online so far and still going. I have a ways to go to get current but what I’ve read so far is very compelling. Well written and beautifully drawn.
The most excellent San Fransisco comic shop Mission Comics hosts a monthly comics creator meet-up on the first Tuesday of every month. Tonight was my second trip over to check it out. I really like the opportunity to talk shop with folks who are working in the same vein. And it was a good mix of people, with a variety of styles, approaches, skill levels and interests. Of course it means a night off from actual work, so now I’m a bit behind, but it was worth it.
Got a bit distracted this evening looking at the works of George Tooker who just died recently. It’s hard to find his stuff on line but I like this video on YouTube.
Meanwhile, I got #11 in the current AV storyline colored and hard at work on next week’s post.
Completed color on AV #2 and #12. (I’m working my way back & forward simultaneously). I was hoping to get #11 done as well, and I’m almost there. Just not quite. Looking forward to getting all caught up on color for all AV posts. I figure I should be there around mid year?
Went to the comics creator meet up at Mission Comics tonight. It was fantastic to talk to other folk who are facing the same kinds of struggles doing the same kind of thing that I’m trying to do here. I’m really glad I went…but now I’m way behind on my comics. I still haven’t inked yesterday’s comic. Argh!
I keep thinking about the project triangle with it’s three points: cheap, fast and good. Pick two. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. You’re supposed to get two out of the three. You sacrifice quality to have it fast and cheap. Or if you want a high quality product, you’ll with have wait or pay through the nose. But when the project is a one-man labor of love, the money angle is removed. There is no cheap. No one’s getting paid anything so all that’s left is fast or good; opposing ends of the same piece of thread. Pulling on one automatically and directly affects the other. There is not third intermediary to help absorb the impact of diminishing either of the other two. You get fast or good. that’s it. So in the short term what I’m finding is that ‘good’ is what’s going suffer. I have to focus on the fast, and I figure that eventually I’ll keep getting better as a byproduct of continuing the work. Didn’t somebody say: “First you get good. Then you get fast. Eventually you get fast and good.” Or was it first you get fast? Anyway, that’s what I’m gunning for: fast AND good. Then I’ll worry about the money part.
I am caught up on inks for AV (although I still have one post that’s missing text), I have reasonably workable navigation, and the site doesn’t look terrible. So I am finally in sight of being able to just focus on the comics for a while. This is the thing that kills me. Even with all the tools that make this stuff so ‘easy’ it still requires so much effort just to get stuff up and running, I never feel like I have enough time for the main work, which is the comics. And now I have this backlog of comics to color. I YI YI!