Local artists compete in competition to create original comic book in 24 hours
Lansing — In the back of Clem’s Collectibles, 212 S. Washington Square, in Lansing, where classic Batman and Super Friends action figures adorn the walls, seven self-proclaimed “comic studs” worked hard to create seven original comic books in 24 hours. Artist Dean Stahl explained the artists were fueled by “enough caffeine to kill a charging bull elephant.”
Stahl, along with Ryan Claytor, Jonathon Gordon, Dan Harris, Jason Howard, Jay Jacot and Eric Wilmoth, participated in the worldwide 24 Hour Comics Days, or 24 HCD, from 10 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday.
24 Hour Comics Day
- The competition began in 2004 and has become a worldwide annual event.
- Artists are challenged to complete a comic book – a task that usually takes months – in 24 hours.
- The event is sponsored nationally by BAWLS Guarana energy drinks and Blue Line Pro Art Boards.
- A collection of 24-hour comics can be found at the Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library.
Most of the artists sell their work at Clem’s and hang out at the store regularly.
The concept of the 24-hour comic was created in 1990 by Scott McCloud as a challenge to artists to create a 24-page comic book — a work of art that normally takes months — in a matter of hours.
This marks the first year Clem’s has hosted 24 HCD, the only store in Michigan to take part in the event. All the participating artists are local and were personally invited by store manager Tom Flammer to take part in the contest that has been an annual event in the comic book world since 2004.
“There were a lot of customers and artists interested in the 24-hour concept,” Flammer said. “Lansing is a pocket of artists and is just a good place for the event, it was just a matter of money, so once some local businesses pitched in it was a go.”
Despite the daunting task, the artists stayed focused.
“When they came in there were a few jokes to get started, then they got to work and it was silent for a while,” said Willy Santos, a store clerk at Clem’s. “But after a few hours you could definitely tell they were getting comfortable with each other, getting kind of rowdy.”
The artistic method
Each of the artists brought different approaches, including sketching and computers to the project, also helping each other.
Claytor kept to a page-an-hour tempo. Stahl finished each page one at a time as well, but didn’t stick to the page-an-hour time frame.
Despite hours of work, the artists only experienced a few hiccups in their journey to create their final product, namely tired hands. Gordon was forced to stop at 1 a.m. due to a prior shoulder injury.
The artists had unlimited breaks and plenty of food and drinks provided by local businesses, wives and girlfriends.
The public was encouraged to come in while the store was open during the day.
“There was a good, steady flow of people coming in and out,” Howard said, “enough not to make us bored and keep us company.”
The final product
Working through the night, only Flammer, who wasn’t participating in the event, gave in to sleep. He dozed off at 4 a.m. and was out for 3 hours.
Four of the original seven artists were able to finish their books by 10 a.m. Sunday — Claytor, Harris, Jacot and Stahl.
Claytor, who was creating a page an hour, miscounted his pages during the night and ended up creating an extra page, the other artists said. Still, he was the first artist to complete a comic.
Stahl was done by 6:30 a.m., but his narration came up short and the comic only had 19 pages. He stuck around until 10 a.m. to offer his support to the remaining artists.
Harris came in with six minutes remaining as Jacot scrambled to complete his final page.
“Someone tell me my hand doesn’t hurt,” Jacot asked.
“Your hand doesn’t hurt,” they answered in unison.
Jacot finished at 9:59 a.m.
Once Wilmoth is able to finish his comic, Flammer will try to include it with the four that were finished on time in a published paperback book. Ohio State University maintains a collection of created comics in their Cartoon Research Library and encourages 24 HCD participants to submit their work.
Howard, a professional artist, most likely will end up getting his finished product published nationally, Flammer said.
In January, Claytor will begin teaching a class called Comics and Visual Narratives at MSU through the Residential College of Arts and Humanities.
Despite the challenges, the artists said they were all happy in the end.
“It has been cool watching the supporters (of the artists) and people I’ve never seen in the store before,” Santos said. “It’s been great to see all these new people excited about comics. They may not have been comic fans before, but to come in and see the artists draw — it hopefully will attach them to (the comic world) and bring them back.”
Staff photographer Georgia Rhodes contributed to this article.