Cartoonists are wackier than the average bear, and that's the closest we'll ever come to explaining why, once a year, cartoonists across the nation gather en masse in coffee shops and comic book stores and other dens of iniquity too dark to properly describe to individually plot and sketch and ink 24 pages of lunacy, wander around slap-happy and imbibe way too much java, all day and all night long. It's called the 24-Hour Comics Challenge, and it's a direct summons to intrepid cartoonists, who must fly with it and hope for the best.
Last October 2, around thirty unflinching metro area cartoonists gathered together under the auspices of the Colorado Alliance of Illustrators to do just that. About twenty of them who actually completed the task are now featured in 24 Hour Comics People, Episode 4: A New Hope, a compilation from locally based Squid Works Comics; some of them, along with event coordinator, participant and Squid Works maven Stan Yan, will be on hand this weekend at Enchanted Grounds in Highlands Ranch to celebrate the collection's release.
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"We've been torturing ourselves for over half a decade now," Yan admits of his Denver 24 Hour Comics brigade. "At first, it was a novelty, but it also turned out to be a good challenge. At least I thought it did. Every year, I come out it having learned something new about myself as a comic artist." And Yan sets his bar high each year: "I make a conscious make effort to do something different each year that I haven't done before. Plus, even if you're not trying something new, it's inevitable when trying to create on the fly, there'll be something you run across in your story that you've never drawn before. You have to learn how right there, even if you previously thought, 'I can't do that.'" Yan's personal challenge in 2010 was to work in watercolor, in prep for a future graphic novel project. Not an easy task, given the time limit.
Meet Yan and his Squid Works cohorts from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Enchanted Grounds, 8800 South Colorado Boulevard; 24 Hour Comics People will also be showcased next weekend at Denver ComicFest 2011 and on May 7 at I Want More Comics (104th Avenue and Federal Boulevard in Westminster) as part of the annual national Free Comic Book Day. Or purchase the book directly online at the Squid Works website.