“Man, I love 24 Hour Comics Day!” Those are the words of Enrique “Ryk” Martinez, who has participated in every 24 Hour Comics Day since its inception in 2004. “It's like extreme cartooning. For my style, it's perfect. I just pick up my pen and go for it.”
24 Hour Comics Day is an annual event where cartoonists around the world each try to create 24 pages of comics in just 24 hours. All work (writing, penciling, inking, coloring, lettering, pasting-up) must be completed in a single marathon session. This year, the event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Oct. 20, through Sunday, Oct. 21—noon to noon. To help these cartoonists, some comic book stores, educational institutions, libraries, businesses and comic clubs will host special 24 Hour Comics Day events. They'll provide cartoonists with a space to work, access to food and drink and plenty of cameraderie.
The idea of the 24-hour challenge was originally proposed by Scott McCloud, highly respected writer and artist behind “sequential art” bibles Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics. (One of the “rules” of 24 Hour Comics Day is that McCloud still gets mailed a copy of each and every book created during the event.) Last year, more than 1,200 cartoonists at 89 locations in 17 countries participated in 24 Hour Comics Day. While some participants are professionals (X-Men artist Paul Smith and The Crow creator Jim O'Barr are just a few of the industry biggies who have thrown their ink pens into the ring), most are amateurs. You don't even have to be a good artist to put your visions down on paper. Stick figures are perfectly acceptable and will not be laughed at. (Unless, of course, they are supposed to be funny.) Pen-and-ink comics, fully painted comics, computer-drawn comics, photo comics and collage comics are just a few of the styles that 24 Hour artists have employed.
Each winter, an anthology book is published by About Comics, featuring the best 24 Hour tales from that year. Ryk, one of the founders of the New Mexico-based comic arts organization 7000 BC, did a story in 2005, titled “Birthmarks.” The story actually only took him seven out of the 24 hours, but it was selected to be in that year's anthology. That anthology was later nominated for an Eisner Award, the comic book industry's highest accolade.
Locally, 7000 BC will be sponsoring 24 Hour Comics events at the Harwood Art Center (1114 Seventh Street NW) in Albuquerque and at True Believers Comics and Gallery (801 Cerrillos) in Santa Fe. Bring your pens and your paper (or whatever) and join in. This event is free and open to people of all ages (with parental permission for minors). For more on the event, log on to 24hourcomics.com or www.7000bc.org, or sign up to participate by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.