Article written by: Greg Layson
GUELPH — Adam Donaldson and fellow up-and-coming comic book artists tried to cram a month’s worth of work into 17 hours Saturday.
Donaldson, founder of The Guelph Society of Comic Creators, and four other locals tried their hands at the 24-Hour Comic Challenge, a friendly international event that sees artists of all skills and ages try to each create a 24-page comic in a day.
Donaldson said the average comic spans 22-24 pages and is published on a monthly basis. So, basically, the pros have a day to work on each page.
“Sometimes, they crank out two in a month,” Donaldson said.
Saturday, the aspiring artists had less than an hour to work on a page.
The Dragon, located in Old Quebec Street Mall, was the host in Guelph — one of seven Canadian sites — and allowed the artists to stay until 1 a.m.
“The energy level was surprisingly high first thing in the morning,” said Donaldson, who arrived around 8 a.m. and was still sipping coffee a few hours later. “But you start to feel the drag a little at dinner time.
“That was the point when people were getting up and walking around the store, maybe reading some graphic novels, looking for inspiration.”
The event drew curious onlookers and part-time participants. But three dedicated people, including Donaldson, lasted until midnight before packing up. Donaldson said some artists had family commitments and left early. And one finished 24 pages early.
“We’re used to sitting down for a couple hours and working on some pages. And then, when you don’t feel it, you go away and refresh,” Donaldson said. “The unique nature of this contest (was) to push through that desire to put aside that piece of paper.”
Donaldson said everyone had their own approach to the contest, for which there was no official winner.
Donaldson readily admits the artwork isn’t his forte. He’s more of a story teller. He had been toying with a story idea — “a sort of fantasy meets superhero idea” — prior to the challenge. Rob Whyte decided to work on the fly upon his arrival. And Walker Haines took the first couple hours to plan his attack. He then hit a speed bump after killing off one his main characters less than five pages into the project.
“This was definitely a unique challenge,” Donaldson said. “But to the credit of everyone, they stuck with it.”
Donaldson said he and The Dragon owner Jenn Stewart are already talking about hosting the event again next year. Donaldson is already toying with the idea of inviting special guests.
“Guelph has a number of graphic novelists and illustrators,” he said. “Jenn was so extraordinarily supportive of the event. She’s up for just about anything that helps the medium.”