Drawing Marathon: Reflections on the 24-Hour Comics Challenge

If you ever thought about your childhood, you know how blurry the memory can be. One moment I am sure that some event happened, and the next, I can’t find any more details about it in my head. It is like I watched a video of my childhood, but it was a long time ago. And I am not really sure what happened; I can only notice the overall mood of my own childhood movie.
So when Pulp De Luxe and Tieten Met Haar announced their “24h COMICS SQUARE” event, I decided to explore this phenomenon and make a comic about a person that doesn’t remember his childhood.

I am not even sure why, but I wrote down the name “Robert”. Then I placed a couple of lousy lines, and Robert became a digital sketch.

As you can see, I did this sketch in a monochromatic style, a style that I try to avoid and use a bit more colourful palette. I liked some elements of the character, but I knew I want to explore more. I started writing some thoughts about the story. I didn’t pay much attention, to be precise, cause I knew it was going to change anyway. I just wanted to get to know this guy better that popped up in my sketchbook.

Who is he? What is he doing? Where is he right now? What does he think about his childhood? Of course, to answer all these questions, I was looking at my own experience. That’s why the end of the story seemed like a perfect solution. But I really wanted to give him some colour.

I took my favourite colours and started messing around. A bit of blue, a bit of orange, and some white here and there, and I had so much fun! I always loved brush textures; this time, I was trying to make them more striking while leaving shapes to be simple and the illustration not cluttered with too much detail. I relied on the textures for a more interesting look.
The first attempt – was successful!

Now I was more confident to continue the exploration, but also to share my process with you. I decided to record it and include it in the blog post!

Here is the final illustration:

And here you can see the process:

Now when this short story got its first look, it was left to wait for the challenge to officially start. Saturday 6 pm, and I was clicking on the link to join the group of comic artists. Some familiar faces were already there. Val introduced the rules and the schedule, and we could start drawing.

I had a particular plan in mind. If I manage to finish the storyboard until midnight or 1 am, I could sleep a couple of hours and then continue in the morning—24 h for 12 pages. If I keep it simple, it is doable. (This was the reason I decided to work on black&white version of the story for the challenge and then repaint it in gouaches after the challenge is over.)

So I started working on thumbnails. As you can see, the story was changing its format and elements while I was striking through some words and placing others that I found more appropriate. It was going in the right direction, but it was still a bit all over the place. It took some hours, and the skeleton of the story was drawn.

Now it was time to continue working in the actual format, so I imported these thumbs in Procreate and started refining them. Hours were passing, and I was slow but moving forward. I was trying to complement the text and images, to work in symbiosis, and not just represent each other. I included a couple of symbols in the images and was really happy when I saw that people noticed them! By half past midnight, my storyboard was finished, and I went for a well-deserved sleep.

The next morning, some of my fellow artists were already there when I signed in. Some of them never went to sleep! I admired their ability to work for that long, but I knew it was not possible for me. Simple, I can’t be productive for that long; my body and mind need to rest more often. One by one, I was detailing the storyboard and painting the images to give them a unified look. In comics, this is the most tedious part. It is easily noticeable when the style falls apart. My method was to work simultaneously on panels. That helped to keep the same amount of details in every panel and to keep it faster to go through and not change the brushes more often than needed. I don’t know if I spared any time by doing this, but I believe I did, and that kept me motivated to finish the challenge.

Also, the hosts organised some music intermezzos, and those really kept the spirits up! Here are some of the music artists that we heard during the challenge:

Other than that, we have had a couple of fellow comics artists singing out loud! They chose songs from the 80ties, and it was sooo much fun! Nothing can keep you more motivated than the artist dressed as Elton Jon singing his greatest hits!

I was uploading finished images during the work, and I had a lot of support on my Instagram account (Thanks, folks! It really meant a lot!). The clock kept grabbing forward. Somewhere 40 minutes before the end of the challenge, I still had a final touch to finish. I was running out of time, but I just kept going. And in the end, I DID IT! I managed to make a 12-page comic story in 24h and be satisfied with it! And according to the comments, people enjoyed it as well.

Here are two panels from my story

Events like this are unique chances to finish a project in a short period. Also, there is a lot of motivation around you because you are not doing it alone. The whole group commits to showing up and giving their best, and for me, this is motivator number one. I got to interact with some awesome artists and discover some outstanding art. If you ever have a chance to be part of something like this, I highly recommend it!
I hope you enjoyed my perspective on this event, and you can find the story on my Instagram acc @dragana.draws or using my unique hashtag #24hcs09

Let me know what you think about my story!

Stay safe and inspired,