Monday, February 18, 2013

Bridge: a "24+7 hour comic"

At the end of January I hosted and participated in the seventh annual 24-hour Comics Day event at la maison des auteurs. I didn't finish the whole comic in 24 hours—I only got to page 16—so I devoted another seven hour day to finishing the remaining eight pages. You can read the comic and learn a bit about it after the jump.

To quickly review: the 24-hour comic was invented by Scott McCloud in 1990. The goal is to write and draw a 24-page comic from scratch in a 24-hour period. (The original instructions stipulate that you also need to lay out a minicomic and get it printed in that time!) And additional rule added over the years is to announce a starter constraint—a keyword or some kind of rule—that all participants need to observe. At the maison des auteurs event (founded by Lewis Trondheim in 2007 when he was president of the Angoulême International Comics Festival) these starter constraints have included:

  • the first and last panel must include a snowball
  • the comic must be completely wordless
  • there must be a family dinner scene in the middle of the story

This year, I was invited to come up with the starter constraint. I thought long and hard about it and consulted with previous 24 hour MCs Lewis Trondheim and Etienne Lécroart. I'm very pleased with the constraint I came up with and I'm happy to say that most other participants have been as well:

Your story has to take place in the duration of 24 units of time: seconds, hours, days, years, etc.
The time frame must be directly related to the story. Time must be distributed equally throughout the story. That is, if you are doing a 24-year story, each page takes place during one year.
The story must be 24 pages long. The first page must contain a title and the 24th page should have "the end" at the bottom.
All the pages must be numbered from 1 to 24.

I wanted to participate myself but not have a leg up by already knowing what unit of time I was going to use so I invited the gathered crowd at the opening to give me a unit of time to work with. Lewis Trondheim spoke up immediately—almost as if he had set a trap!—and proposed: decades. Meaning every page has to cover ten years and the final story will be 240 years long...

(You can watch a video of me announcing the constraint (and Lewis pouncing on me with his tricky challenge) here, part of a very nicely-done series of benind-the-scenes videos shot and edited the same day. See them all here.)

The ten-year-increment structure was not a possibility I had even considered but after a few hours interrupted by various media people I had a solid story worked out. I did less well with the planning and time management and at a certain point I realized I would not finish all 24 pages so I aimed for page 16, end of the second of three parts (roughly corresponding to three eighty-year lifespans). On Friday, February 15 I sat down and cranked out the remaining eight pages in seven hours. So, not a perfect 24-hour record but I was pretty proud of myself anyway. And to top it off, I think it turned out quite well. Here's the comic in its entirety (click on it a second time to view in full-screen mode):

You can read the rest of the finished comics here. It's too overwhelming to read all in one go but check back regularly because they feature comics at random in the top right corner where it says "à decouvrir aujourd'hui".

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

4 x 4: the OubapoShow post

Recently my friends in Oubapo and some invited guests put on the first ever OubapoShow at the Cité Internationale de la Bande Dessinée et de L'Image in Angoulême (oh, and up the hill there was also some kind of comics convention going on?). We all did performances, slideshows, and live-drawing events. In my case, I came up with Four by Four, a quick but tough constraint for generating four-panel comics. As a way to make it more interactive (and perhaps also to lessen the pressure on me to come up with something excellent all by myself!) I invited the audience to participate as well.
After the jump you can learn about the constraint and see all the comics audience members turned in.

Lecteurs francophones: dans ce blog je vais montrer tout les strips qu'ont fait les participants du publique (dont certains d'entre vous sans doute) de l'OubapoShow pendant le FIBD 2013. N'hesitez pas à laisser un commentaire si vous voudriez que je mets vos noms sur vos strips. Continuons en ingueliche un peu...

The challenge I proposed was based on sets of four: four panels (which I drew years back for a different project), four sets (seasons, colors, emotions, shapes) of four words each. The idea is to choose one word from each of the four sets and make a comic strip using the four panels and the four keywords, adding dialogue, sound effects, narration, etc. You can also alter the drawing to whatever degree necessary.

I handed out colored cards to random audience members (not very rigorously oubapian, I'm afraid) and had them choose the four words based on which cards they were holding. The results we came up with were:

season: summer/été
shape: circle/rond
emotion: joy/joie
color: yellow/jaune

I also handed out about 20 envelopes containing copies of the four panels and a little sheet with instructions and the four categories. While other Oubapians did their presentations I worked at a table on the side of the stage for 20 minutes, writing a strip, showing it to my neighbor Alex Chauvel to revise the French, lettering it, pasting it up, and coming up with a title using all four words.

When I was done we collected all the finished strips and brought them onstage. I showed my strip to the crowd using the overhead projector. Not my best work ever but I got some cheap laughs out of the audience (you can make it out in the opening image). While I was doing that, the other Oubapians were quickly sorting through the collected strips to find a few more to put up on the screen.

Tony Rangeul, Etienne Lécroart, and François Ayroles read through the audience's comics

Since there wasn't time to show them all, I offered to put the remaining strips on my blog, so here we are.

Merci d'avoir supporté tout ce 'nonsense'. Voici les strips 4x4 faits par la publique de l"OubapoShow. Et Bravo!

Cliquez sur le diapo pour l'aggrandir.

Et voilà. Merci à tous de la collaboration.


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Oubapo in Translation

I translated three short comics by members of Oubapo and wrote an introduction to the group and its principles for the International Graphic Novels issue of the literary translation magazine Words Without Borders.

original Etienne Lécroart page, photo by me

The comics I translated are a palindrome comic by François Ayroles, an acrostic comic by Killoffer, and a 4-page elegy* by Etienne Lécroart to his sister, structured on a decreasing number of words and lines from one panel to the next. This last comic is on my short list for the most innovative and powerful comics I've read in recent years. I was lucky enough to drop in on Etienne a few years ago and see the original pages right after he had finished drawing it. I wrote about the visit here.

*I had a moment of doubt about whether 'elegy' is the right term here or if it should be 'eulogy'. I think they are both applicable: an elegy is usually a musical or poetic composition in remembrance of someone while a eulogy is usually a prose reminiscence written by a loved one. Though the comic is written in prose and by a loved one, the rigor of the composition and the melancholy tone make me think that 'elegy' is the more proper term to use.