The 24 Hour Comics Challenge, room full of talent and determination / by Sonya Paclob

I participated in the illest, most awesomest event called the 24 Hour Comics Day Challenge in Lancaster, PA. It’s an event where students and artists build their own 24-page graphic novel within 24 hours. It seems like an impossible deadline. But, did I survive the challenge?

Yes, I did. However, I failed miserably.

I’ve been a fan of graphic novels since I was 10 years old. I dreamed to be a comic book artist, but I didn’t fully believe in myself to be successful. However, I still appreciate the art form. I’m thankful for Bob Hochgertel, professor at the Pennsylvania Art & Design, who invited me to the challenge. I know my inner child would be so stoked.

I was rusty when I started the challenge, but I only drafted one page of my comic book within the 24 hours. I did fail at the challenge, but I was awarded with many inspirational insights from professionals.  

I asked Jamar Nicholas, cartoonist from Philadelphia, “If you met your younger self in a elevator, what would you say?”

He laughed at first, but then deeply reflected on the question. “I would say, ‘with all the things that you're thinking, you are going to be just fine,’” he said, “Don’t worry about it.”

He thanks his mother, who was a designer, for pushing him to believe in himself. He admits that he didn’t get the overall arching positive reaction from her as a kid. However, he understands that she was pushing him to strive better and still continues throughout his career.   

It was also true for Big Al Gruswitz, president of Boundless Creativity. He pushed his colleagues to reach a better version of their work. Even when you have to deal with other client’s input.

“Take their (clients) input and make it even better.” He stressed that it’s important to also own your work from start to finish. If you don’t, someone else will, Gruswitz said.     

Mike Hawthorne, an artist for Marvel and DC comics, was the only artist that stood as he worked. He taped his Deadpool art on the window and jammed to his music on headphones. At one time, he didn’t feel he was the best artist out there during his college years. He stressed that with great practice and persistence, it’s possible to make it.

“It’s so heart breaking that people stop (drawing) for a living,” Hawthorne said, " I knew people who were so much better than I." 

Savanah Myers, freshman at PCAD, felt she was not good enough compared to her classmates. We sat next to each other during the challenge. When I looked at her own work, I was impressed by her creativity. 

Work by Savanah Myers

Work by Savanah Myers

“Don’t you ever give up because you are talented,” I said, “I mean look at me. I’m struggling trying to do one page in 24 hours.” We laughed it off and got back to work.

Throughout the night we shared stories, food, and even drawing supplies.  She shared her makeshift pencil sharpener with me. I shared my first comic book, Sailor Moon #4 by Nako Takeuchi, which got me into drawing. 

That one day gave me a better appreciation for graphic novels and artists. It actually inspired me to draw more and get back to the basics.

Would I participate in the challenge next year? Of course.

My goal for the next challenge is to finish two completed pages. It’s a small step or sketch in the right direction.