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(PG; Superhero) Agent K tries to stop an army of alien killer robots from conquering Earth. Can our high-heeled heroine save the day with color dots and a good right cross? In the Silver Age Zone, anything's possible.

Now Ain’t Soon Enough: 24-Hour Comic 2008Comments about this page

By David Marshall February 20th, 2012 Categories: Post |

(PG; Memoir) Unfocused, unlettered, imcomplete autobiographical mess. The end result doesn’t reflect the effort; or does it?

Boston’s 24-Hour Comics Day of 2007 was in Kenmore Square’s Comicopia, where I knew no one and was far from my neighborhood of Inman Square. Those conditions forced me to concentrate on the job at hand. While I ran out of time to make it coherent, the basic story got finished. The host’s professionalism and experience was also helpful. The clock started on time, food was plentiful, and they publicized our mission to all the local media.

The local 2008 host was Somerville’s Hub Comics, about three blocks from my new apartment and yards away from Union Square. Despite this ideal situation, I couldn’t focus enough to finish. By noon on Sunday, there were barely 16 penciled pages to show for my scatterbrained effort, no word balloons or inks. After my previous success, it looked like I’d finish with ink and script and color. How could I have been this wrong? How did this happen? Oh Survivior, why hast thou forsaken thy “Eye of the Tiger“?

This post isn’t so much for the public, but a Momento-like note to myself for next year. Looking back, it just wasn’t my year.

photo: Andy Wong

Digital Expertise: I wasn’t the only digital artist,
just the least productive.

Excuse One: Life Got in the Way

I lost my full time web development job this Spring and’ve been scrambling for freelance work ever since. In addition, condo conversion forced me to move from Somerville’s Inman Square to a much nicer place in Somerville’s Union Square. While both changes proved positive in the long run, they put me in a state of perpetual hustle mode. Keeping all the plates spinning left me too tired to even think of the comic.

Excuse Two: Exciting New Neighborhood

My primary connections were Hub Comics’ staff and building. This was my first neighborhood comic book store since Allston in the 1980s. By the time of 24-Hour Comics Day, I’ve logged hundreds of hours talking with the owner and staff. In this environment, I didn’t mind being the oldest guy in the room. It was like hanging out at a friend’s place, with kids in the den. I felt no connection to the younger artists’ taste in movies, music or comics.

I wonder if John Garcia felt the same way about me. In addition to being a historian, illustrator and friend, he was also a mentor in understanding the business of commercial art. For the first time in 28 years, he’s not around to impress. (For the record, he thought using digital tools on a 24-hour comic was stupid and much slower than drawing by hand.)

Excuse Three: Late Start

When I got to, Hub Comics approximately 11:30, there was only one table set up, and 5 cartoonists looking for space to work. I helped the store’s manager Jesse clear off 2 tables in the basement. In defense of their first 24-Hour Comic Day, the RSVPs didn’t match the number of people who showed up. Officially, the noon event started promptly at 1:00 PM.

Excuse Four: No Inspiration

photo: jesse ferrell

I brought 70′s sci fi classics Rollerball and
Logan’s Run, which Jesse approved

I tried following the spirit by not preparing. I hoped to plot and draw at the same time, creating an amazing panel-by-panel improvisation. With nothing in my head or heart at that moment, I chicken-shitted into planning a storyline. With no real concept, I strung some long-forgotten anecdotes together. According to the “Created” tag of page 1, the plotting and thumbnailing took almost 5 hours (1:00 – 5:42).

How easily-distracted was I? Sometime near 7:00 PM, I went to a local bar to watch 2 innings of the Boston Red Sox/Tampa Bay Rays Game 6, running away from both my writer’s block and this rag-tag collection of productive artists.

During my freshman year at MassArt, I was somehow allowed in an advanced watercolor class. The teacher was an internationally-known 50-something with a quiet, soft-spoken style. Most of us knew to shut up and learn. There was one kid who decided he was smarter the rest of us mere mortals. Can’t remember his name, but we derisively called him “The Pro”. He sure talked a good game, yet his work was substandard. Once he even challenged the teacher by saying “I’ve been watercolor painting for 7 years, and don’t need to follow your instructions.” As we were in shock, the teacher said he’d been using watercolors for over 30 years and that we should listen to him. If memory serves me well, we all laughed at “The Pro”, who was eventually bounced out of the program.

For this year’s 24-Hour Comics Day, I might’ve been “The Pro”. While everyone talked about how hard this mission was, most of the “pups” finished.

photo: Us at 3:30 AM

Protect and Serve: Somerville police were brave
enough to kick out this bunch.

Excuse Five: Somerville Police Department

At 3:30 AM on Sunday morning, two patrolmen from the Somerville Police Department approached the store. Jesse was the only staff member there. They asked if Hub Comics had a permit for a public event after posted business hours. Jess said he didn’t know and the owner James just left. The policemen said without a permit, we all had to leave the store. Jess pleaded by saying the store wasn’t doing business and they had a casual relationship with Somerville City Hall. The cops didn’t want to hear any of this and ordered us out of the building immediately.

Luckily another artist lived close by and let us crash/work at his place. In addition to having no drive, no concept and no sleep, I was now in someone else’s house with a bunch of other cartoonist vagabonds. What little momentum I had was lost.

I joined Jesse (who went back to the store to clean up) around 8:00 AM, and worked until noon. For all that drama, I only had 16 pencil pages. Getting rescued by Sam was a releif.

Conclusion: What Did We Learn Today?

  • I wasn’t ready this year
  • There are some wonderfully talented people out there
  • Being a neighborhood fixture isn’t what it’s cracked up to be
  • Most true artists don’t RSVP
  • Blowhards are never productive
  • Police are very serious people, especially in cold weather
  • There’s always next year

Thanks for reading. Goodnight and good luck.

— Dave M!, feeling lucky to know some talented artists

Talk Back! Most recent of (6)

B. Doug De Rocher | Posted on February 20th, 2012 at 4:18 pm   

I remember that night.

David Marshall | Posted on February 20th, 2012 at 4:22 pm   

If you don’t think drawing 24 pages in 24 consecutive hours isn’t tough enough, try doing it B. Doug’s way of cut-paper collage! Visit his online portfolio http://www.monarchmonkey.com for publishing history, current events and commissions.

Jesse Farrell | Posted on February 20th, 2012 at 11:38 pm   

Ha ha! Good times, good times.

The thing with the cops showing up was really the straw that broke the camel’s back (as I recall, that year I was also participating in 24HCBD and also failed to complete mine). In subsequent years I always cleared it with the local police and every time the desk sergeant I spoke to on the phone seemed to wonder why I was bothering to notify him. Better safe than sorry.

There’s always next year, indeed.

David Marshall | Posted on February 21st, 2012 at 10:31 am   

Jesse Farrell, manager of Hub Comics, was an excellent host for 24-Hour Comics Day. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by to see why their slogan is “Comics for Everyone”. Do yourselves an extra favor by visiting Jesse’s sculpture portfolio (www.jfsculpts.com) for finished pieces, works in progress and other fun stuff.

Alexsandra Jogosda | Posted on March 6th, 2012 at 8:41 pm   

I like your blog’s simple, clean design and superb blog posts. Please keep them coming.

bank glosow | Posted on March 20th, 2012 at 9:24 am   

Wow. Very cool!

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