The Brave and the Bowled-Over
How to survive the marathon of creativity that is 24 Hour Comics Day
"It's not exactly a conventional sort of fun," says the Austin Sketch Group's John Rubio. He's talking about 24 Hour Comics Day, the international event during which amateur doodlers and scribblers and even graphics professionals the world over attempt to create an entire 24-page comic book in just that amount of time. "24 hours in a row," says Rubio. "It's a marathon of epic proportions. Most comics in the industry are done on a monthly basis. Here we're trying to cram all the work into one day, so it's pretty grueling and a real challenge to see if you can do it."
Rubio should know: He was one of more than 40 people gathered at local comics bastion Austin Books for last year's event. And what might participants at this year's installment, beginning at 9am on Saturday, April 23, have to look forward to? "By hour 20, I was a human wasteland, a total babbling mess," Rubio confesses happily. "I abandoned the comics and wound up doing spontaneous stand-up comedy in the back."
Another local artist who was there, Patrick Joseph, didn't so completely succumb to exhaustion; in fact, his comic, Now, was the only Austin work selected for inclusion in that year's professional anthology (24 Hour Comics Day Highlights 2004) of only 24 artists' stories. "It's my first work that will have a spine, a distributor's catalog listing, and royalties attached to it," he told our Robert Faires last year. "In light of that, I am freaking out a bit."
During the creating itself, it's likely that the participants will be too busy to even think about freaking out (until, that is, the dreaded hour 20); but, either way, they'll be among friends. "It really helps that there are a lot of same-minded people in the room with you, drawing away," says John Rubio. "And last year we had 46 people in the same place, which was the largest gathering in the world. Which figures, because the Austin Books people have always gone above and beyond in supporting the local community."
We'll just have to wait and see if the local community, again gathering this for the annual, Scott McCloud-originated event, will turn out in sufficient numbers to beat the threat of greater participation in Dijon, France, where the natives seem less than content to rest on their legendary mustard-producing laurels.
24 Hour Comics Day will be observed April 23-24, Saturday-Sunday, across the globe. For more information, visit www.24hourcomics.com. The Austin observation will start Saturday, 10am, at Austin Books & Comics, 5002 N. Lamar. For more information, call 454-4197 or visit www.austinbooks.com.