Well, I did it. I completed 24 pages of comics, plus a cover, within 24 hours. It’s called “Something”, on the grounds that, well, I had to call it something. Once it’s scanned and I’ve figured out where to put it, I’ll post a link. Here’s a photo of the first three pages, taken when I had no idea where it was going, just drawing images as they occurred to me:
The event was held at Catalyst Arts, a studio/gallery space in an old converted industrial building of some sort, and was organised by Catalyst’s co-director Fionnuala Doran. I’d met Fionnuala once before, at the 2D Comics Festival in Derry in June. A few days later I ran into her working at Waterstones and struck up a conversation. Except, as it turned out, it was actually Fionnuala’s twin sister Aideen, and she had no idea who the hell I was. Bit embarrassing. Aideen, who’s also a co-director at Catalyst, showed up to help out for a while, but didn’t do a comic like Fionnuala did.
The other person I knew was Andrew Croskery, who’s a regular at the Belfast comics pub meet in the Garrick on the first Thursday of every month. Here’s Andrew hard at work on his comic, “The Four Seasons”, which from what I could tell depicted Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter as bickering sisters. Looking forward to reading it properly.
Everyone else was new to me, and I’m having a hard time keeping their names straight in my head. Here’s a wider shot of the studio:
That’s Andrew again in the foreground, Michael just behind him, And on the sofa, Vicky on the left, and (mind completely blank) on the right There were others drawing, and quite a few others who dropped in to offer moral support.
I think my experience drawing without pencils probably stood me in good stead. Jonny (not pictured) had never drawn a comic before, and I think completely misjudged how long it would take him, starting off with tight, detailed pencils on full-size, ruled-out boards. By the middle of the night he’d got maybe four or five pages done, and realised he’d never get it finished that way, so he had a few hours kip and started again, drawing at A5 directly in brush and ink. He got seven pages done like that and they looked gorgeous – if he’d taken that approach from the start he’d easily have got a 24-hour, 24-page comic done.
We had a webcam link-up with the Dublin event, in the far more salubrious surroundings of the Central Hotel. Here’s a link to a message board post with some of Cliodhna Lyons’ photos. As you’ll see, nobody in Dublin spent the night drawing with their coat on with the hood up and wrapped in a duvet, as hotel function rooms are a bit warmer than artists’ studio spaces in converted industrial buildings. Not that I’m complaining. I’m pretty warm blooded. I just wish I hadn’t had to sleep on the floor. Getting a bit old for that. Next year I’ll bring a camp bed or something.
Anyway, the webcam link was a bit awkward because although we could both see and hear the Dubs, they could only see us, because they’d neglected to bring any speakers (and not, as initially thought, because we didn’t have a microphone). We started by holding up handwritten notes, and the Dubliners did the same until we pointed out we could hear them fine. We ended up using some kind of text chat thing, although I couldn’t type fast enough to have proper conversations, but never mind. Later on when I was half-asleep I’m pretty sure somebody was using it to tell Dublin dead baby jokes. Anyway, hello to Cliodhna and Kyle and “Declan” and the rest. Liam and Craig of the Comic Cast have done a special edition podcast interviewing some of the Dublin participants.
Oh, and we had a barbecue. Catalyst has a balcony where they’ve rigged up a barbecue out of an old wheelbarrow. We ate well, largely thanks to Andrew, and some of his mates who couldn’t stay but brought food anyway. That looks like Andrew on the left, the guy in the middle is Richard, who was one of the participating artists, and bending over to his right is Maria, who’s from Germany, didn’t do a comic, but subtitles sporting events for the hard of hearing on German TV for a living. In the background are two more moral support people whose names have gone, but their presence was appreciated.
Hopefully it’ll be an annual event and get even more popular. Roll on next year I say.
Edited on 6 November to correct a certain degree of confusion over names