I’d been kicking around an idea for a jam comic based on the game of tic tac toe. Recently I invited Tom Hart to meet up with me at a café before class at SVA and give it a try.
I posted about an earlier aborted comics project that led to this idea here. The idea is fairly simple: one cartoonist is X the other is O. You lay out a 9-panel tic tac toe grid on a page and play tic tac toe, only instead of simply putting an X you need to draw a comics panel that incorporates the X in some creative way. The game proceeds alternating players until the comic is finished. (Keeping track of who wins is optional.)
|Tom Xs and Os…|
|…while Matt Os and Xs|
What appeals to me about the idea is that the constraint works at a few different levels: there’s visual play and word play and there’s also an unsual storytelling challenge since you’re not telling a story in a linear fashion, instead you’re jumping from panel to panel, alternating with someone else, and trying to mold it all into some kind of coherent narrative.
|game record of the above comic|
In the comic above I started with the top right panel: I drew a bald guy because that seemed O-like and had him say “”Oh” as he opened and read a letter–that seemed like a story starter. Tom did the next panel and made an X out of a stack of envelopes, deciding they were summonses. We talked back and forth as we worked but didn’t always know what the other had in mind. So when he wrote “24 weeks” I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the reference. I decided that six more would make 30 which is XXX–a winning game in tic tac toe. It turns out he was thinking of X being the 24th letter of the alphabet. And so it goes. With the bald guy and all those X’s Tom found it irresistable not to end up filling this strip with X-Men references, though we barely even know the characters (yes, we know Johnny Storm isn’t really one of them).
Our other strip took a totally different direction, as you can see. In conclusion: a bit of a silly game but the results are not bad and we had a lot of fun doing it and talking about the process. This would make a great minicomic anthology. If anyone out there ends up doing this kind of comic, please send it my way and who knows, maybe I’ll get enough to put a mini together.
PS As Tom points out in the comments, what we did to save time (and ensure a nicer looking final comic) was to pencil only during the jam session (as in the pix above), then we each took one home to finish up and ink.