Photo courtesy of Zane Barrow.

Tales, Dreams and a Place to Put Them: Utah’s First 24-Hour Comic Creation Event


It’s funny how the creation of unreal things can become some of the realest things we know. Dreams and stories tucked in the back of your head become a reality of sorts when shared with those around you. Some realities become t-shirts and movie franchises. Some realities become worlds to readers flipping pages. Some realities just sit in the back of your mind forever never taking form. So let’s change that, in 24 hours. SLUG Magazine recently chatted with the brilliant and incredibly passionate Zane Barrow (also a master in the comic assembly arts) to find out about this Saturday’s 24-hour Comic Challenge Event.

SLUG: Hello Zane Barrow! So how many 24-hour comic day events have you organized since starting in 2004?

Barrow: This will be the first, but I’m really excited to learn from our event this time so that we can do it bigger and better in the future. Building an artist community where people can help each other and work together [where] we can grow is a key part of the event. I believe that if we nurture those relationships we can also grow the event next year and even put together other opportunities in the future.

SLUG: So how did you come across the local artists to form this event?

Barrow: I’m always looking to meet more creators and artists that share an interest and love comics. Some of the artist that will be attending are people I consider friends, and of course, they have their own network of creatives, so it has grown naturally from there. A large part of the event, in my mind, is growing that community and giving everyone a chance to network. The event is open to the public and social media has hopefully helped new people find out more about the event and convince them to join as well.

SLUG: Is this an “anything goes” (topic, violence, plot) type of comic left up to the artists’ choosing?

Barrow: As long as you aren’t making other people uncomfortable and or being a creep you can make whatever you want. The idea is a 24-page comic at the end of the 24 hours which is not easy so we encourage everyone to tell the story that they can make within those parameters. Like I said before, it’s about the experience so even if you can’t stay for all 24 hours or you feel you can’t accomplish the 24 pages we still encourage everyone to show up and be part of the process as much as they can. Whether it’s a six-page romance story or 24 pages of a single fight scene, working on a project surrounded by other creatives will be a great learning opportunity.

SLUG: Do you have any insight on how to pick a genre or type of comic?

Barrow: Work with what you know. Writing within a genre can provide the basic framework for a story that might help keep your story from spiraling out of control. If you are thinking about a genre ahead of time, I would say watch movies and read comics in that genre so that when it comes to making your comic, you will have plenty of ideas. Keep an eye out for cliches and stereotypes to avoid, or even better, find a way to flip them on their head and surprise your reader.

SLUG: For participants, 24 hours on a single project is a lot. What advice do you have as far as preparing?

Barrow: First, get to know your tools. You’ll have an easier time if you aren’t learning how to use a new brush or marker the day of. Second, work on a style that you can draw quickly and consistently. Figure out what details you can cut so you aren’t wasting time on anything unimportant to the story.
Third, start scribbling ideas, characters and objects into your sketchbook now and bring it to the event. You never know when a character you didn’t think you would use can get you out of a tight spot. Your sketchbook will also help you with the first two pieces of advice. If anyone is looking for more detailed advice, Chris Bodily and Chris Kirkham have helped me with a few videos and a workshop which are much more in depth and are all accessible on the 24-Hour Comics Day Facebook event.

SLUG: Will there be easy access to local Ogden foods or refreshments of any type?

Barrow: A few of us have agreed to pitch in and buy pizza for the group on Saturday night. I will be sure to have coffee, tea and snacks available throughout the event. Even Stevens is on the same block as Heebeegeebeez where we are hosting the event and we are planning to place an order with them for breakfast Sunday morning. I’m still working out the details with them as well. We are only a block away from The Junction which has plenty of food places during the daytime hours if anyone needs more than that. Plus, we can always convince someone to make a food run if need be.

SLUG: Do the participants need to bring their own art supplies?

Barrow: Everyone is responsible for their own materials, so bring what you like to work with and be creative. I know a lot of us are working with traditional pencils and markers but there are no rules that say you can’t use crayons, or even show up with a stack of magazines, scissors or a glue stick. Make what you can make, the goal is 24 pages in 24 hours however you get there is up to you.

SLUG: During the event, are there exercises performed to get the creative juices flowing during the 24-hour stint?

Barrow: The great thing about being in a group is that you have other people to bounce ideas off, collaborate or go walk around the block to catch Pokémon with if you need a break. I think the greatest resource available are the other people around you. If you need to step away to regain some energy chances are that someone else does also. Grab some coffee and talk about cat videos or work through your plot with a friend. I’ve had one person ask if they could bring a sleeping bag and take a nap, I’ll make sure we have a safe place for that too.

SLUG: And at the end of the day?

Barrow: Hopefully we all celebrate accomplishing 24 pages and go home to sleep. Ogden UnCon has given us a booth to feature our artists and sponsors and a panel to talk about the experiences at their convention next year so after the event I would love to see everyone print their comics out and share them.

SLUG: What is your goal or hopeful outcome from this 24-hour comic day?

Barrow: I am looking forward to seeing everyone come together to work on comics. A lot of times when you work on art you are alone somewhere and it can be isolating, it’s good to see other people that you can connect with and know so you don’t have to work alone. I want to see the art community grow—especially with comics—I think this event is a perfect place to build friendships with others who share the same passion.

SLUG: Anything you want to say to the potential attending audience?

Barrow: Don’t be afraid to try it. It isn’t a contest, we aren’t competing and nobody will judge you if you can’t complete the challenge. But you will learn a lot and have a lot of opportunities to make friends with other artist. Even if you can only draw stick figures we have a spot open for you.

SLUG: Is there anyone you’d like to thank?

Barrow: I have to thank Heebeegeebeez for giving us a place to work and helping [the event grow], we wouldn’t be hosting it without them. Thanks to Ogden UnCon as well for helping us turn our event into something more than just a night of making comics.

And there you have it, SLUG readers. This Saturday at 6 pm inside the Heebeegeebeez in Ogden, creatives will gather together to create. So find some of those dream and tales floating around your head, because now you have a place to put them.