At the end of January I hosted and participated in the seventh annual 24-hour Comics Day event at la maison des auteurs. I didn’t finish the whole comic in 24 hours—I only got to page 16—so I devoted another seven hour day to finishing the remaining eight pages. You can learn a bit about it after the jump.
To quickly review: the 24-hour comic was invented by Scott McCloud in 1990. The goal is to write and draw a 24-page comic from scratch in a 24-hour period. (The original instructions stipulate that you also need to lay out a minicomic and get it printed in that time!) And additional rule added over the years is to announce a starter constraint—a keyword or some kind of rule—that all participants need to observe. At the La Maison des auteurs event (founded by Lewis Trondheim in 2007 when he was president of the Angoulême International Comics Festival) these starter constraints have included:
- the first and last panel must include a snowball
- the comic must be completely wordless
- there must be a family dinner scene in the middle of the story
This year, I was invited to come up with the starter constraint. I thought long and hard about it and consulted with previous 24 hour MCs Lewis Trondheim and Etienne Lécroart. I’m very pleased with the constraint I came up with and I’m happy to say that most other participants have been as well:
Your story has to take place in the duration of 24 units of time: seconds, hours, days, years, etc.
The time frame must be directly related to the story. Time must be distributed equally throughout the story. That is, if you are doing a 24-year story, each page takes place during one year.
The story must be 24 pages long. The first page must contain a title and the 24th page should have “the end” at the bottom.
All the pages must be numbered from 1 to 24.
I wanted to participate myself but not have a leg up by already knowing what unit of time I was going to use so I invited the gathered crowd at the opening to give me a unit of time to work with. Lewis Trondheim spoke up immediately—almost as if he had set a trap!—and proposed: decades. Meaning every page has to cover ten years and the final story will be 240 years long…
(You can watch a video of me announcing the constraint (and Lewis pouncing on me with his tricky challenge) here, part of a very nicely-done series of behind-the-scenes videos shot and edited the same day. See them all here.)
The ten-year-increment structure was not a possibility I had even considered but after a few hours being interrupted by various media people I had a solid story worked out. I did less well with the planning and time management and at a certain point I realized I would not finish all 24 pages so I aimed for page 16, end of the second of three parts (roughly corresponding to three eighty-year lifespans). On Friday, February 15 I sat down and cranked out the remaining eight pages in seven hours. So, not a perfect 24-hour record but I was pretty proud of myself anyway. And to top it off, I think it turned out quite well.
[2017 update: I am redrawing the comic for a new anthology. It should be published by the end of the year.]