On Friday and Saturday I participated in my first 24-Hour Comic Challenge where I made 24 pages of comics in 24 hours. It was a heck of a challenge, and I’m happy to share that I successfully completed it!
I documented my experiences in the video above.
The result of the challenge is an action fantasy comic called Lavender, which can be read free online.
Why Take on the Challenge?
I’d heard about the 24-Hour Comic Challenge a couple of years ago, and it always sounded so fun. Doing something I love for 24 hours? I’m sold.
Since I’m still pretty new to making comics (~10 months in), I thought taking on the challenge would be a way for me to experiment and learn new approaches to making comics quickly. I planned out the challenge weekend a few months ago, and I’ve been preparing since by working on comics everyday.
I decided to take on the challenge on my own time instead of a global challenge day (usually in October) so that I could do it sooner. I also chose to sleep for eight hours and not have those hours count against the timer. Sleep and my health are really important to me, and I knew I’d be paying off the slept debt for days if I didn’t.
But on the simplest level, my main goal was to tell a complete short story in the 24 pages.
My Approach and Process
Going into the challenge, I didn’t do any writing or sketching to explore the world and characters. All I brought with me was an inkling of an idea.
My process didn’t vary too much from the one I’ve been used for past and current projects. Except everything was done much quicker. And I knew the quality of my art would need to dip in order to get all of the pages done in time.
I started by fleshing out the idea into a story, while also capturing ideas for the characters. Once I finished that, I sketched out the characters. From there, I translated the gist of the story into thumbnails, where I laid out the panels on the page and blocked out dialogue and character locations.
I chose to letter right after creating the thumbnails so that if I couldn’t finish the art, there would at least be legible text that could be still convey the story. Lettering took about six hours, which seems like a long time looking back on it. I’m not sure if I was being too lax or am just slow. 🙂
Once I finished lettering, I started inking the panels and working on the final art. This step definitely took the longest, as expected. I had about 24 minutes to ink each page, which is very short. It’s taken me at least 3x longer in the past to ink full comic pages.
The comic was pretty much finished once the inking wrapped up. I went through and proofread the comic, re-inked some rough panels, and created a cover.
Essentially my normal process but super compressed!
My mantra the entire time was “finished not perfect.”
I chose to draw digitally for a few different reasons:
- It’s what I’ve been doing daily for the last couple of months, so it’s what I’m most comfortable with.
- Lettering digitally with a font is quicker for me than lettering by hand.
- Using layers allows me to iterate on the art as needed. Each line is a little less permanent than on paper.
I drew on my Cintiq Pro 16 and used Clip Studio Paint. Both held up well throughout the entire challenge.
How It Went
It went great! I’m proud of myself and the fact that I completed the challenge. The art is a bit rough and rushed, but that’s to be expected. There were times during the challenge where I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish inking all of the pages, so I’m happy with what I’ve got.
A strange thing happened where my art was getting better and better the longer the challenge went on. I expected it to dip in quality as time passed, but I got into the groove and was loving what I drew.
I haven’t drawn any action scenes in a comic before this, but I absolute love shonen manga like One-Punch Man, Dragon Ball, One Piece, and Naruto. All three of those series have such clear and exciting action. I was trying to capture that in Lavender, and that was a total blast.
It’s a real beautiful thing to have an idea and bring it to life in 24 hours. That’s the joy of making comics for me, and going through that whole process in a condensed period of time showed me how much I love every step of it.
The challenge was definitely difficult, physically and mentally. My drawing hand and whole body are still a little sore. Doing anything for 24 hours over the course of a day and a half would probably be exhausting.
Taking eight hours to sleep helped me a lot going into the last 10 hours of the challenge. I can’t imagine having finished without sleep.
On the topic of self-care, I’m grateful I stayed hydrated and ate healthy. I don’t drink caffeine or energy drinks, so eating nutritious food and sleep are really all I’ve got for pushing through. I took a handful of breaks and time to cook meals which definitely ate away at some time, but I think they also helped me mini-burnouts.
I’d like to participate in the challenge again (but not anytime soon). Maybe next year? I think it’d be cool to try to a 6-hour or 12-hour comic challenge one day a week for a month or something. That could lead to neat, higher-quality work.
It’d be nice to print a few copies of Lavender, but the project is pretty much done aside from that.
I’m going to return to my daily work on Lunar Space Colony, which is launching in week and a few days. I’m excited to work at a less frantic pace but commit to a weekly release schedule.
I love making comics, and participating in this challenge only reaffirmed that.