First we had the Alaska Overnighters, Playwrights, directors, actors and stagehands challenged to create and produce a new play within a one-day time frame. Then there was the Annual Anchorage 24 Hour Film Competition with prospective screenwriters and videographers racing to deliver a finished movie by deadline.
Now comes a new event to thrill all who revel in the merger of artistic endeavors conducted at a high rate of speed: The First Ever UAA 24-Hour Comic-a-thon.
At 5 p.m. on July 15, a group of University of Alaska Anchorage students locked themselves in a room at the Student Union Building with the goal of producing comic books before 5 p.m. the following afternoon. Working in teams or singly, six arty folks churned out four "narratives," the pictures and texts for their mini-mangas.
The fruit of their efforts and a video documenting the process is now on view at UAA's Student Union Gallery.
The art on display is the original on a blue-line graph paper designed for comic book work. (The blue disappears from photo copies.)
Some did their drafts with pencil, others leaped straight to ink. The ideas flowed and fluxed.
"I changed my idea three times in 24 hours," said Brandon Moore, who worked solo. "I was listening to music and I'd hear a song and think, I got to work that song into the comic."
Moore, who becomes the gallery's new director on Aug. 1, considers himself primarily a digital artist. "But there was no chance to transfer my images to the computer because of the time," he said.
The long midsummer Alaska daylight helped the participants keep at their work, said Gideon Gerlt, the gallery's outgoing director. So did stimulants. "We thought about building a mound of cups and containers as part of the show," he said, "a monument to all of our excessive consumption of caffeine products."
"We had lots of energy drinks and junk food to keep us awake," said Moore. "But by the end of the night my hands were literally shaking. I was saying to myself, 'I can't do any more. I just can't do anymore."
"It was hard stuff," said Anton Kadtsin, who signed up for the project after being inspired by a similar event in California where the artists raised funds for a nature preserve. "By morning, we were burned up."
But the effort was producing results.
Most of the artists finished well ahead of the deadline, Gerlt reported. "None of us really sat there for 24 hours," said Kadtsin.
The selections on display include a comic sci-fi spoof about kittens in space by Aaron Bish and Kimberly Shaw.
"Kharma," by Gerlt and Sean Jones, is a darksome fantasy. Moore's opus, titled "Impending Doom," has a thread of apocalyptic forboding.
"After the accident I have never been the same," reads the text. "(For) four years I have had the same dream night after night. The sky turns gray and the already hot city begins to get even hotter."
Time-lapse video of the artists at their labors, created by Chris Legge, runs as part of the exhibit.
Also on the walls is a cover by Liz Shine, a parody of the original Marvel X-Men cover showing the UAA students.
The idea, said Moore, is to "weld everything into a sort of short story comic book."
So the project isn't entirely finished. Or rather, the four comic books that emerged from the July 15-16 immurement had not yet been copied by the time of the opening reception last Monday.
Gerlt was confident, however, that the finished copies would soon join the story boards at the exhibit.
Find Mike Dunham online at adn.com/contact/mdunham or call 257-4332.