Monday I completed my second ever 24 hour comic, the children's story Bad Bugs. It was a little easier to complete than last years, and I think it ended up at least as good as well. It's definitely skewed for my first graders that I'll be sharing it with in January. The most important (maybe only) reason to engage in McCloud's 24 hour comic challenge is to learn more about your creative process. I learned a ton, and I'd like to share a bit of my retrospection with you for this week's Comic Curve.
The day prior I finished reading Will Eisner's Comics and Sequential Art to try and get a nice refresher on the methods of one of the greats. It's a great book and I recommend everyone that makes comics to read it. There were two things that stuck with me for this specific comic. The first was when Eisner made a clear distinction between illustrations and visuals. "Illustrations" he described as pictures that reiterated what was written in the text. I see this a lot in some older comics like Savage Sword of Conan or the original Avengers run. "Visuals" are pictures that show the reader what is happening. I'm typically more focused on writing my comics in terms of using visuals instead of illustrations, but for Bad Bugs I tried to use a mix of both. I felt like using some illustrative panels would add to the storybook feel of the comic. The second bit of advice I used throughout the comic was a lettering tip. Eisner stated that a comic letterer should bold the most meaningful words in a balloon. If the reader began to skim the words, the bold words should give them a basic concept of what the balloon was about. I used capitals instead of bold letters, but I tried to use the capital letters to this effect. I'm also going to remember this advice as I reletter Awful Lot this week.
Due to time constraints I found myself falling on a lot visually familiar territory. I sort of lucked out drawing insects for characters, as cute animals is certainly comfortably seated in my creative wheelhouse. As I designed characters I threw in things like Awful's eyes on Dunday, and even took whole characters from other series. Suzy Snail makes a couple appearances in the 24 hour comic and the entire middle section involves a spaceship run by a tokolosh I've designed for next years project. I've also noticed I'm developing my own little tricks for storytelling. The lettering I've been using on sound effects is the same as I've been using in Awful Lot. The little labels are very reminiscent of my action shorthand from Public Education. I don't know if this is good or bad necessarilly, but it's important to recognize.
There are also several bits of advice I want to remember for next time. Despite managing my time far, far better I could have still used more time cleaning up my pages and editting. I think I'm going to try and pencil more lightly next year, and slow down a bit. Maybe I won't have to use the full 2 hours of editting time if I ink my pages more slowly the first time around. Although I was pretty stoked that I was inking most of my panels within 3 minutes on Bad Bugs. It's hard to word so steadily, but it builds discipline and encourages lateral thinking. I had a great time with this year's 24 hour comic, and I will definitely be completing another one this time next year.