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Sep 24

Do’s, Don’ts and Thoughts on 24 Hour Comic Book Day #24hcbd

NOTE: The event has now come and gone, view this post to see if my thoughts below match the reality. LINK

EDITED 9-27-10

On October 2-3 is 24 Hour Comic Book Day 2010. This will be my fourth year participating. You can see of my previous posts on the subject  HERE. I will be drawing, unless something changes, at Mission: Comics and Art in San Francisco.

The challenge is to create a 24 Page Comic Book in 24 hours. The event pushes you to simplify, to manage your time, and to take risks that a working professional needs to work on. It’s also a chance to draw genre and styles that maybe you normally would not. All in all the experience in previous years has been pretty great for me, with each year being better then the last.

Since I have blogged before about the event, I thought this post would mostly be just my thoughts on getting ready and what to DO or DON’T. This is solely based on my own experiences and ideas and should by taken at face value. Also, I have done it a few times so my goals and expectations might be different then the person doing it for the first time.

DO plan on the materials you will be using ahead of time. The event is a week from tomorrow (October 2-3) so get cracking.

DO draw actual size, DON’T draw big since it will take longer to do.

– DO not create stories that take you coloring the whole panels black with sharpies. Lots of work, lots of smell.

– DO draw on black or gray paper, it looks cool. Example HERE.

DO make a template, either a stencil to trace around or print out ones in light blue from your printer. I made my own in Adobe InDesign and is available for download at the bottom of this post.

Here is a sample of the template I used the last two years and will use again this year. A PDF of the template is linked at the bottom of this post. I have marks for standard panels all ready marked and it makes it easy to do.


DO print extra templates so you are ready to make mistakes.

DO test out your tools ahead of time so there are no surprises. Below is a sample I did to try out different pens using my template design.


DO spend at least the first 5-10 min doing an outline of a simple storyline and doodle a design or two of the characters. I have tried to do full page thumbnails on previous years and it did not work for me beyond getting a place to start.

-DO keep the number of cast members to a minimum.

DO design the characters with clear shapes that can be distinctive and quick. Blocking out the book before your inks are easier with distinctive shaped characters.

DO plan a bit, so you know how the story starts and more importantly how the story ends. My first 24 Hour Comic had “to be continued” and that was not very satisfying. Better to create a comic with a complete story.

I did a test comic for the event at the Cartoonist Conspiracy comic jam last night, 2 pages in 2 hours. Here were my 5 min character sketches. Notice the distinctive shapes of each character.


DO spend at least the first hour or so to block out the pages in a nice light blue pencil. These are not detailed pencils, unless you need to make sure some detail is extra clear. Make sure to get at least the start and finish down clearly, even if you don’t get the middle right away. Moving fast is like the story playing in ‘real time’.

– IDEA for your comic: A homage to a favorite person or artist, illustrate lyrics to a random song on your iPod, an experience from your childhood, etc.

DO plan to use a couple of 2 page spreads. That is exciting and 2 pages for the ‘price’ of one.

DO at least take a mental note what pages will take more work then the others. It’s OK to work out of order, especially getting the first and last pages looking good before lack of sleep clouds your work.

DO the comic in passes with the most important elements first like inking the characters. I do the backgrounds usually last unless they are key to the story.

DO use ink washes in the last steps to add some more interest to the backgrounds. It’s fast and quick and can lots of impressionistic detail.

DO bring a nice medium brush to add in some shading.

DO remember that sharpies smell bad and will most likely make you and the people around you feel ill after 24 hours of using them.

DON’T forget a white-out pen.

– DO use silhouettes and other tricks to make the strip more dramatic.

– DO use 22 Panels that Work by Wally Wood for inspiration. Download it HERE.

Here are two pages  from the other nights jam, using the template all inked up.


DO bring an iPod with music to work too and to block out distractions. Remember part of working together will be some chatting and noise, otherwise we would work on our own.

DO load your iPod with images that you can shuffle and view randomly vs. bringing reference books.

DO ask for advice from your cohorts if you need too. Once again, it’s part of working together.

DO set a secondary goal, especially if this is not your first time. It might be something simple like “I want to draw all sexy babes” or it might be “I want to do something better this year then last year”.

DON’T plan in advance the story or characters, but DO have an idea of a Genre or Theme to make coming up with a story easier. If you all ready know that your drawing cowboys then it’s easier to come up with a story.


Samples: “A trio of racketeers thinks about starting a business in the jungle.” and “Father Ebony Ghost (aka) Frank Kelley” and “Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra) with space stations” and “Chaos Children Of The Heavenly Murderer” and “This brave goddess of blacksmiths takes the form of an adult woman with the traits of a bee. She has an athletic build. Her outfit is that of a sorcerer, and it is mostly blue in color. She carries a cutlass. She can turn into metal.” See good stuff.

DO use cut out sticky notes for word balloons if your spelling and grammar are not so hot. I did this last year and it worked really well.


DON’T worry about it being perfect, no time for that.

DO post your final work on-line.

DO print it as a mini comic and get feedback and Comic Jams and Conventions.

Here is a one page I drew in about 20 min, first with blocked out shapes of the alien skull robot (notice the clear design) and then inking it with a Sharpe Pen.

DO have fun


Here are links to my previous attempts:

In 2005 I created ‘The Synthetic Owl” – read on-line

In 2008 I created “Team Sonic X” – read on-line

In 2009 I created “Love and Resurrection” – not on-line yet. Soon I hope.


2 pings

  1. […] There are notes in the back of the book on what worked and what didn’t. You can also read my recent posts for this years 24HCBD HERE. […]

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