24-Hour Comics Day

Catch me at 24-Hour Comics Day 2011 at the Toonseum!

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Or don't. Because I'll be busy drawing and applying the lessons I learned from last year's 24-Hour Comics Day... part of which is avoiding too much social interaction during the event!

But seriously, if you're in Pittsburgh and you're curious about 24HCD, stop by the Toonseum anytime after 12 PM tomorrow and say hi.

Officially, it runs from 12 PM on Sat Oct 1st until 12 PM Sun Oct 2nd. Frankly, I intended to draw a 12 hour comic. I'd much rather spend the night in my own bed, so my goal is to catch one of the late buses home around midnight.

But, as things tend to go with 24-Hour Comics Day, there's a very good chance I'll be there all night, cranking out pages and having a great time.

The above graphic was created by the prolific Barry Linck, writer/artist of Phineus (and much, much more). Along with Barry, I'll be kicking it with friends of mine like Scott Hedlund, Chris Maverick, Loran Skinkis, Kristoffer Smith, Lizzee Solomon, Byron Winton, Mikey Wood, and maybe -- just maybe -- Shawn Atkins (if he's back from his honeymoon). Of course, I'm not sure if all of these peeps will show up. But hopefully most of them will!!!

Check back here next week because I'll be posting a 24HCD recap, as well as the fruits of my labor.

10 things I learned from 24-Hour Comics Day in 2010

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

We're only a few days away from 24-Hour Comics Day 2011, and I feel like reflecting on what I learned in 2010. Be forewarned! This is gonna be a long post with a lot of visual aids.

This year -- just like last year -- Pittsburgh's 24HCD will be held at the Toonseum. Joe Wos is kind enough to open his doors to the PGH comics community again and house this marathon event.

I'm not bringing up the location just so you can stop down and say hi. The "where" is integral to the first lesson I learned last year: 1. Your location sets the tone. In 2010, there was a parade on Liberty Ave right outside the Toonseum's front door. Massive distraction! And not only that, but it also complicated the buses, making it hard for Justique to visit me.

And Justique's visit brings up the second lesson I learned: 2. If you want to end up with a finished book, then remember that 24HCD is about making comics and not hanging out. I'm not going to encourage Justique to visit me this year. She can if she wants, and of course I'd love to see her. But I'm doing this to test my limits and make a comic in one day, not be social.

Now there's one (count it -- one!) thing I did right last year -- I made it the entire 24 hours without sleeping. Myself and Chris Maverick were the only ones to do so. How'd I do it? A combination of proper rest, focus, and food. So: 3. Get a good night's sleep the night before and eat good stuff throughout the day. Ya know, low-carb grub that won't make you slip into a food coma.

But I didn't make the most of my 24 hours. Even though I stayed awake, I wasted them. I was too social, I was too distracted, and I was too indecisive. Which leads me my next lesson: 4. Avoid breaks, avoid trips that take you away from your work, and avoid thinking too much. Granted, that's kind of like two lessons in one right there, what with the thinking stuff. But the reason I group it together is because too much research or too much obsessive flip-flopping about your story is a form of procrastination.

I approached the day with a tight schedule that laid out what I'd be doing every half-hour. Ahahahahahaha! What a fucking joke!!! That schedule was blown out of the water in two hours. Thus: 5. Don't waste your time trying to work on a set schedule -- just work as fast as you can.

So what did I do for the first two hours? I wrote a script. Which leads me to my next lesson learned: 6. Don't write a script. A nice idea, but very impractical.

Here's the script I wrote for my comic, Maximum Cactus #1:

It's a fine script and all. But totally pointless. Why? Because I only got done nine pages!!! See, I thought I'd be able to breeze through the process by working digitally. WRONG! Again, a nice idea... if I'd been comfortable working digitally. But I'm not. I like to draw on paper and then scan stuff in.

And that leads me to my next lesson: 7. Draw in the most comfortable way possible. I don't mean comfortable like sweat pants. I mean comfortable as in the way that feels most natural to you. I shoulda drawn on paper with Paper Mate Flair pens. That's the easiest way for me to work.

Another mistake I made was trying to tell a story with a lot of dialogue and boring imagery. I was too reliant on exposition and not reliant enough on stuff that's fun to draw. So, as you'll soon see, I ended up with a lot of talking heads. Which flows into my next lesson: 8. Draw stuff that you like to draw. That's where my script messed me up -- I wrote a story that I loved but not one that I wanted to draw.

As for the actual drawing process, it was fun but slow. I planned too much and didn't let myself feel the moment. Thus I learned another lesson: 9. Be improvisational. When the clock strikes 2 AM and you suddenly realize you don't give a shit about what you need to draw for page 14, you're screwed if you have a strict script that's binding you to a set story. However, working improvisationally will allow you the necessary wiggle room to change things on the fly.

So how much did I finish last year? Nine unlettered pages. [cue sad trombone]

I didn't start to enjoy my art until the second half of page eight. And even then, I still had a lot of misgivings about it. But it was a great learning experience and a fun journey, even if I left the Toonseum the next day feeling defeated by 24HCD.

In summation, I have only one more lesson to impart: 10. Plan to make a comic that you can complete in 12 hours, not 24. Then maybe -- just maybe -- you'll be able to finish a 24 page story in one day.

Dropcards, Super Haters Guest Weeks, SPACE, and More

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

AudioShocker Comics Dropcard

It's been a while since I've done an update like this and there's a lot to cover, so let's get to it!

- The image you see up top is the art for the very first AudioShocker Comics Dropcard. Confused? Dropcards are essentially little gift card looking things that give you a unique code to access downloadable content. They're pretty common nowadays for musicians, but as far as I know, I'm the first person using them for comics. The Dropcard pictured above will make its debut at this year's SPACE.

- That's right, I'll be at SPACE (Small Press Alternative Comics Expo) in Columbus on March 19th and 20th. I'm rolling into town with a ton of great Pittsburgh comic creators including Shawn Atkins, Dan Greenwald, Scott Hedlund, Marcel Walker, and Seth Fronzoli (plus some other great PGH comics cats'll be there too, like Tom Scioli, Nate McDonough, Andy Scott, and more) AND catching up with some friends like Josh Blair (AAHHH NO MORE NAME DROPPING!). I'll have a bunch of comics with me, both old and new, including...

- The New Time Log (1 of 3), which is currently at the printers! It's my first foray into full color printing and it's a bit ironic considering I'm pretty against expensive, over-printed comics... But this bad boy is one high-quality sucker! Smooth paper, lush tones, and-- oh look at me, I'm gushing. Anyway, I'll be posting more about this book in the next few weeks.

- Speaking of new comics, I'm a contributor to Andy Scott's comix anthology, specifically Andromeda #7. I have a two-pager in there called "Adventure 101." Click the linked issue title to check it out on Etsy.

- And continuing the theme of collaboration, over on my daily webcomic, Super Haters, I'm gearing up for a new feature -- Super Haters Guest Weeks!!! Each month, beginning on the second Monday, I'll be featuring seven days of strips by a guest writer. First up in March is Ross Campbell, who's got some pretty nuts stuff planned for Destruct-O-Tron and Mind's Eye.

- I also have a ton of other stuff going on, like an upcoming talk at the Out of Gutter comics discussion group at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Library in Oakland, the bi-monthly Sequential Underground podcasts, Time Log nearing the end of ACT II, Project Basement (v3 starts later today (Powers and Costumes this time around)), and... this brief 24 Hour Comics Day 2010 interview that I did with the TGT Webcomics Podcast (my section of the interview starts at 28:20).