So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #012: 24 Hour Comic Book Day… the Pre-Production

On Saturday, October 6th, some brave (or insomniac) comic book creators across the nation will take part in a little fun activity called “24-Hour Comics Day”. Started in part as a challenge, and furthered by the indie industry to include charitable drives and other sundry sub-events… 24-Hour Comics Day sets forth the task to complete a 24 page comic in 24 hours, soup to nuts. This year? I’m going to take part in the challenge — albeit with some modifications to suit my personal needs.

First off? My goal isn’t to complete a 24 page book. I don’t publish books that short (the economics of that can be saved for a later article, mmm k?). Secondly? I know I’m not that fast an artist or writer. At all. So, instead my goal is thus:

To draw and be immersed in my latest comic book for 24 hours straight with a desire to complete as much of it as I possibly can.

I’ll be sitting in at my local comic book shoppe, The Zone, of Homewood, IL. I’ll do my darndest to capture my work — whether I stream the whole 24 hour experiment, or just make a big-ole-honkin’ article here on Pop Culture Squad and update it on the hour. And per this article, well, I’ll be pre-gaming just a wee bit to set myself up for success.

For those more familiar with my creative process? Feel free to stop here. Give me a like on social media, and be on your way. For the rest of you wanting a bit of insider baseball and see how the comic sausage is actually made? Strap in. 

I myself do not draw without reference. I lightbox photos I stage, and build my panels directly in digital ink. I augment with 3d props and other reference materials ultimately to build out each panel fully in black and white. From there I send my work to a flatter, who fills each shape I draw in flat colors. When I receive that art back, I change the colors to match my vision, add special effects (glows, blurs, etc.), and lastly I letter over the completed artwork. I tend to operate in the Marvel method of writing a basic outline of my script, do my artwork completely, and then script directly “raw”. That is then sent to my compatriots for the sake of editing, and from there, final changes are locked in and the book is done-zo. You dig?

So, for this 24-hour marathon of drawing, I knew coming in I’d need a few things done before leaping head-first into the pool. First off? My basic concept had to be locked in. I chose to start in on my 78 page epic love-letter to the 1980’s. Samurnauts: To the Max! will be a one-and-done story (across a pair of 36 page comics, natch) that finds our Immortal Kung-Fu monkey leader deputizing 5 strangers to save the Earth from being decimated by a cadre of Russian Mutant Femme Fatales! So, I got that all well and good.

Beyond the concept, I knew I’d also need references. And therein lay the rest of my column for you fine folks this week. This Saturday I complete one of my favorite tasks in building my comics. I run a 5 hour marathon photo shoot where I’ve cast all my principles to play the parts I’ve built in my outline. 5 Samuranuts, 4 Cossack Cadres, 2 evil Russian Overlords, and a lone Immortal Kung Fu Monkey — and a few helpful extras — will join me  to snap a memory card’s worth of material enough to last me at least 36 pages worth of kick-ass comic bookery. Each panel will be built “in the frame” as it were, with multiple vantage points and perspectives captured allowing me to build my pages as I go. And it’s an amazing excuse for a room full of adults to act like kids and play with nerf guns and knives.

When I set up my workstation in a few short weeks from now, I’ll be up, and doing what I love; I’ll be raising some money for a great charity while I’m toiling. And maybe, lookie-loos (who will be more than welcome to keep me company) might guiltily buy a Samurnauts book to keep my spirits up. It’ll be a win-win-win, kiddos.

And with that, I look forward to the rest of my week. I’ll be plugging away at writing out my outline for these first 36 pages. I break down each scene into necessary beats, and then define a page count in line with the pacing I’ve determined. Each page is then written out panel-by-panel; where I include for myself camera direction, depth of field, and the shot I’m trying to capture. That way come picture day, all I have to do is describe to my actors what the scene is, beat-by-beat. A few hours later, I’ll have the bones by which an entirely new universe is born.

And you, my friend, are going to be on the ride with me as I take it. Samurnauts are go!