24-hour comics at the Stripmuseum

Today’s 24-hour comic day and a group of cartoonists in Groningen will spend the day pounding away at their desks at the Stripmuseum Groningen. I’m not taking part, but studio-mates Jeroen and Jelena are. I’ll be dropping by periodically to distract themlend moral support. They’ll be posting their work hourly (roughly) at the Groningen 24-hour comic blog. Event starts at 11 AM, CET.

Interestingly, a bit of a rivalry has sprung up between the Groningen group and the 24-hour cartoonists at comic shop Lambiek in Amsterdam. It seems those stuck-up westerners don’t like having their thunder stolen by the museum’s parent company Libéma’s mighty press machinery. Ha! We’ll do better comics too! And have better-tasting pizza and stronger coffee! And if that’s a problem to you we’ll cut off your gas supply, so there!

Mid-event update (11 PM): The event is now halfway through. Jelena has posted two large updates, enough to see the shape the story is taking. Others have posted smaller updates. Some have posted none, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily catastrophically behind. I noticed during my visit to the museum that Erik Wielaert was mapping out his entire project for the day in rough sketches – a risky strategy but what with him being the demon draughtsman that he is, he just might pull it off. Sigrid de Jong is drawing on A3 originals which don’t fit under the scanner.
As far as the others are concerned, I don’t know.

Martin Wisse reads between the lines of my original post and guesses that the Groningen crowd is desperate to start a rivalry with the Amsterdam group. Well, not really – it was just me sensing an opportunity to trash-talk. Both groups get along just fine, and G. Wasco arguably belongs to both. However, I had heard that some of the Lambiek people were genuinely a bit miffed at the way the Stripmuseum’s corporate propaganda machine got the Groningen event into the national media. Of course, that had nothing to do with the artists involved on either side.

Late night update (2:30 AM on Sunday): My official reason for not taking part in the 24-hour comic day is that I was planning to run the 4 Mijl van Groningen today. That is very much the lesser challenge, though, and to be honest it’s quite clear to me that right now, I’m not up to the bigger one. Case in point: I left the studio at 1:30 AM today having finished the line art on exactly one not particularly complicated Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan page. I spent 8 hours on that, so I guess if I had stuck it out for 24 hours I could have got 3 pages scanner-ready. Maybe 4; the page I worked on today had a few things in it that I didn’t really know how to draw, so that slowed me down. But that’s about it. I really respect anyone who can work at the pace of a 24-hour comic and come up with anything above the level of scribbles.

After work, I paid the Groningen crew another visit and I’m pleased to report they’re doing quite well. Erik Wielaert had started inking (and the work I saw didn’t disappoint! I hope some of it shows up on the event’s blog before next morning); Jeroen had 17 pages done and was ahead a bit; Jelena was keeping up; and as far as I could see, so were all the others. I took some pictures with Jelena’s camera, which I’m sure will be showing up somewhere soon enough.

One good thing they’re doing is giving themselves time for little breaks. There’s a temptation to just keep on pushing on, but the occasional opportunity to relax is essential. Jeroen, who has a part-time day job at the museum, gave the others a ride on the animatronic carrousel that essentially shows a 3-dimensional 8-minute commercial for the museum itself. They’ll all claim to have enjoyed it ironically, I’m sure. Eight minutes is probably just the right length.

I plan to pay one more visit in the morning. They’re getting a call from a radio show at six-ish, because there’s nothing that late-night, early-morning radio show producers like better than to have someone at the other end of a phone line babbling incoherently. Also, by the end of the event, the RTL 4 camera crew that was there on Saturday morning will be back in the hope of shooting some credible zombie footage for their secret horror project. I don’t know if I’ll make it to the museum before 11 AM, but I’ll try.