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!