24 Hour Comics Day a rousing success

Official Press Release

(April 25th) The celebration of 24 Hour Comics Day wound to a close today as artists finished off their comics and headed off for some well-earned sleep. Five hundred comics creators took place in 24 Hour Comics Day events at more than 50 locations, while others celebrated at home.

Not all of the celebrants tried to create traditional twenty-four hour comics, which requires a single creator to try to do all the work on a twenty-four-page story in twenty-four consecutive hours. Some creators teamed up to work on collaborative comics, others took advantage of this gathering to work on shorter pieces in a supportive, creative environment. And not everyone who set out to do twenty-four pages succeeded. "It's a challenge," explains Nat Gertler, founder of the event. "but even those people who didn't get twenty-four pages done still got something out of it. They got some comics done, and they learned more about what they're capable of."

With many of the events being held actually inside comic shops, space was often a limitation. Some stores like 3rd Quadrant Comics in Toronto chose to limit themselves to a single creator, making the event basically an exhibition for the customers. Other stores did whatever they could to make space, with Austin Books in Austin Texas hosting a full forty creators. Some events that were backed by stores or comics clubs actually took place in restaurants and bars, where cartoonists could keep themselves refreshed while working toward the looming deadline. And the National Association Of Comics Arts Educators used their www.teachingcomics.org website to spread the word to educational institutions, leading to events being hosted in places like Yale and CalState Fullerton.

The presence of live cartoonists also proved a draw to host stores, many of which stayed open for shopping all 24 hours or offered special 24 Hour Comics Day sales. Before heading off to sleep, Dan Shahin of Hijinx Comics Downtown took time to note that it had been his stores busiest day ever.

The event was not without its bumps, however. In some cases, cartoonists who had announced their plans to attend an event failed to show up, for a variety of reasons. At some stores, this was more than made up for by folks who showed up to participate without reserving space, but others were not so lucky. "3 of my 4 artists backed out at the last minute," explained Rik Deskin of Rain City Comics in Woodinville, WA in a post on the 24HourComics.com event host forum, shortly before the start of the event. But by the end of the event, even Deskin was rooting to do this all again next year. "Everyone's a little loopy, but we are having fun."

Participants included well-established comics creators, aspiring creators, and people just doing it on a lark. The ages ranged from seven years old to those too old to admit their real age. People skipped work, canceled plans, and one young lady even chose to forego her prom for this event. And they turned out comics of all sorts: comedy, horror, adventure, superhero, slice of life, funny animals, and abstract things that are hard to define. They worked with pencil, pen, crayon, paints, cameras, and computers.

Scott McCloud, inventor of the 24 hour comic and editor of the new book 24 Hour Comics, packed up his family and went on the road, making surprise visits to a half dozen event sites during the celebration. "It was a remarkably inspiring day for me and my family. I am continually amazed at the sheer talent out there in the comics community, and 24 Hour Comics Day drove that home like nothing ever has." Scott's eleven year old daughter Sky video taped and conducted interviews on their trip, making just one of at least four documentaries that were being made about the day.

Various creators have already posted their stories in the Web, and some of the event hosts are quickly publishing photocopied versions of stories made in their store. Gertler himself will be sifting through all the comics submitted to pick twenty interesting examples for the upcoming anthology 24 Hour Comics Day Highlights 2004. "People have been asking me whether they should submit their stories even if they didn't make it to 24 pages, or even if they were collaborative comics. Absolutely! The book is meant to capture what happened on that day, and while it will include mostly proper 24 hour comics, it wouldn't be complete without at examples of collaborative comics and other things that happened during this vast creative whirlwind." Cover sheets for submitting works are available on the www.24HourComics.com website.

And with the first 24 Hour Comics day wrapped up, many people are asking if there's going to be another one next year. To this, Gertler responds that "this was originally intended to be a one-shot, but then, I had expected literally 3 or 4 event sites, not fifty-some. I can no longer ask people to let me survive this first one and get at least a few days rest before making a decision. The event hosts have made it clear that they simply had too good a time, and that it's got to happen again next year. And imagine what it will be like when we actually plan for it to be big!

"Hearty thanks go out to everyone who was involved: to the retailers, clubs, and educational institutions who hosted events, to Masuya Rice Sembei Snacks and all the local sponsors who provided food, drink, supplies, and services for the events; to the many comics fans who stopped by to see what was going on; and most of all, to the five hundred comic creators who chose to participate in the event.

For more information on 24 hour comics and books of 24 hour comics, head over to www.24HourComics.com

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