24-Hour Comics Day
Funny Papers, April 24
You might expect that an event like the nationally celebrated 24-Hour Comics Day where creators hunker down in the geekoid ambience of a comics shop and attempt to churn out 24 pages of sequential art in as many hours, sans sleep you might expect such an event to be pretty well-attended in a keep-it-weird city like Austin. Certainly, comics behemoth Austin Books was well-stocked with artists it had the biggest turnout in the country, in fact its poster-bedecked premises swelled by the ranks of the Austin Sketch Group and other, unaffiliated pen-wielders. But your mild-mannered reporter wasn't among them.
Starting at 9am on Saturday, April 24, I was in the back of Funny Papers in the Dobie Mall, hanging with store manager Tim Doyle, my daughter Angelica, and Doyle's pal Alex. And, except for the scarily knowledgeable Juan Segarra behind the counter, that was it. But, hey, that made it kind of special, right? That made it kind of like we were the underdogs in an early-career Bill Murray movie, valiantly striving toward our goals with little but pluck, determination, and a goofy smile to lead us to et cetera. Or, at least, it meant that there wasn't a big battle for attention amid the masses when we leavened our industry with conversation. But, while we worked diligently, penciling and inking and rendering our various narratives onto paper in a more-or-less balanced orchestration of words and pictures, most of the conversation was coming from the store's speakers, from the CDs of the Dallas radio show Fanboy Radio that featured interviews with comic greats Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Waid, and even Scott McCloud the man who'd started this whole 24-Hour Comics Day thing the year before.
Around about hour five, some tyro haircut from Fox News came down with a cameraman to interview Tim and capture the spine-tingling action that is four people drawing lines on a white surface, providing us with much fuel for snarkery and derision upon his departure. And still we kept drawing. Doyle worked on his true-life story about a friend of his hooking up with a stripper at some nightclub; Angelica rendered her recent experiences at an animé convention into crisp, detailed panels; Alex plotted the figure breakdowns and text placement of his latest actioner. My own comic was ... well, it wasn't a comic, precisely. Unlike my more talented companions, I can't do sequential work, can't manipulate lines into believable characters that repeat in various poses and moves. I was simply creating image after image after image, all different and mostly unrelated.
At 10 that night, Tim and Angelica and I ditched the Dobie shop (Alex had split hours earlier) and headed for Tim's house. And, once there, set into further arting: me, with the random graphics; Angelica, with sketches for future projects; Tim (and his girlfriend Angie Genesi) shifting to painting cityscapes and pigs in gorgeous acrylics. Rogue posterist Matthew Rodriguez showed up and regaled us with tales of miracle employment and urban defacement, then left to see a man about spray-painting a dog. Were we listening to the Pixies at this point? Memory fails.
We sketched and drew and painted and yakked and munched potato chips into the wee hours of the morning. Angelica crashed at 3, Tim and Angie hit the sack around 4, and I finally passed out on the floor as the sun rose like a fiery logo in the east. I dropped into sleep, the latest issue of Marvel's X-Statix ("X-Statix vs. the Avengers, Part One," as penciled by Mike Allred) slipping from my weary fingers, knowing that I and my pals had failed to achieve the goal we'd aimed for, but had enjoyed the hell out of ourselves for almost almost 24 hours.