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THE DARE: To create a complete 24 page comic book in 24 continuous hours.
That means everything: Story, finished art, lettering, color (if applicable), paste-up, everything. Once pen hits paper, the clock starts ticking. 24 hours later, the pen lifts off the paper, never to descend again. Even proofreading has to occur in the 24 hour period. (Computer-generated comics are fine of course, same principles apply).
No sketches, designs, plot summaries or any other kind of direct preparation can precede the 24 hour period. Indirect preparation such as assembling tools, reference materials, food, music etc. is fine.
The 24 hours are continuous. You can take a nap, but the clock keeps ticking. If you get to 24 hours and you’re not done, either end it there (“the Gaiman Variation”) or keep going until you’re done (“the Eastman Variation”). I consider both of these “Noble Failure” Variants and true 24 hour comics in spirit; but you must sincerely intend to do the 24 pages in 24 hours at the outset.
It was Nat Gertler who turned the dare into an event: As he told ROBOT 6’s Tim O’Shea earlier this year, on the 10th anniversary, it started as a way to drum up publicity for an anthology of 24-hour comics he was publishing, and it snowballed from there. Now it is organized by the retailer group ComicsPRO, and participants are invited to send their 24-hour comics to the the national 24-Hour Comics Day archive at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University.
Thursday marks 10 years since the first 24 Hour Comics Day. In recognition of this milestone, Nat Gertler, who organized that first day and orchestrated the event annually through 2007, was more than happy to share his recollections of its formation. One detail that surprised was that the 2005 collection features the first sold story by award-winning artist Fiona Staples.
Nat Gertler is known by some folks as the publisher of About Comics, while others know him as the person who started 24 Hour Comics Day back in 2004. But for the sake of this interview, I email interviewed Gertler about his new book (set to be released on October 25), The Peanuts Collection: Treasures from the World’s Most Beloved Comic Strip. Here’s the official description for the book: “This fully authorized, one-of-a-kind illustrated book celebrates the 60th anniversary of the world’s most beloved comic strip characters. A compendium of rare materials from the Charles M. Schulz Museum and family archives, The Peanuts Collection comes in a sturdy slipcase and features high-quality reproductions of original sketches, comics, and photographs from the world of Peanuts. Removable film cels, stickers, and booklets are included, as well as reproduction prints of Peanuts artwork ready for framing. Written by Peanuts aficionado Nat Gertler, with quotes from Schulz family members and a foreword by daughter Amy Schulz Johnson, the text offers insight into the making of the comic strip and its impact beyond the realms of newspapers and books to film, television, and popular culture. The Peanuts Collection is a must-own keepsake for anyone who loves Snoopy and the gang. … Gertler is the founder and author of Aaugh.com, a comprehensive resource for Peanuts collectors and fans.” This interview was a fun one for me, thanks to Gertler’s thorough knowledge of Peanuts material (For example, I’m still trying to fully grasp the fact that there was once a Peanuts Book of Pumpkin Carols).
Tim O’Shea: You’re a respected Peanuts expert, but I’m curious if there was any trepidation on your part in taking on a project of this import and scale?
Nat Gertler: Does a kid feel any trepidation about getting the key to the candy store? I’d already been considering writing a book about all the angles one could look at Peanuts from. That book would’ve been a bit more academic, but I jumped at the chance to do this celebratory book, with all of its great visuals and the cool removable items.
by Nat Gertler
I hadn’t known Steve over the years (although I am quite fond of some of his work), but over the last few months I’d been interacting with him, mainly via email – first with small amounts of charity, then with helping him through straightforward business, buying out the rights to the Salimba work he did with Paul Chadwick, then with buying a new Salimba prose story from him.
Steve struggled hard during those few months, from his physical failures, from problems of access to health care, and from the various other difficulties brought on by lack of money. But through all that, he continued expressed his appreciation for all that his supporters had brought, feeling that he only had a roof over his head and what health care had held him together this long thanks to that support, which came largely from those within the comics community, whether it was old friends like Bissette, or from both pros and fans he had not known, or from the wonderful Hero Initiative. He knew the end was coming (although not in the way it appears to have come), and was doing whatever he could to smooth the path for his son. (That concern permeates the prose story, which he felt was the last he would write; in it, Salimba struggles to care for a child that she is not equipped to handle.) It is such a relief that, whatever has befallen Steve, it has not befallen Leo.
Give to the Hero Initiative — they’ve got a lot of way to give, some quite painless. If you want to keep up your tough-guy image, they have a variety of cool products you can buy so you can pretend you’re not being charitable when you send them your money. They do a lot of good with what they get.