What do the critics know? What does anyone really know..unless they take the time to carefully take in the subject? The subject in this case is David Chelsea’s new collection of comics, “Everybody Gets It Wrong! (and Other Stories): David Chelsea’s 24 Hour Comics Volume 1.” Novelist Mary Robinette Kowal put an intriguing question to the master cartoonist. She asked him which piece in his new book is his favorite. His ready reply, “Jesusland.”
Keep in mind that this new collection of comics by Chelsea was created for 24 Hour Comics challenges. That, my friend, is a challenge created by another master cartoonist, Scott McCloud, who first proposed that an entire comic book be created in the span of 24 hours, one page per hour. The book collects the first six (out of sixteen thus far) that Chelsea has undertaken. It’s a very special set of circumstances that you enter into with a 24-Hour Comic. One of the liberating factors is the freedom you have to do whatever you want in real time. And it makes sense that Chelsea would favor “Jesusland” since he was riffing on the current state of affairs: the 2004 Presidential election and the Republicans mobilizing the Evangelical vote to secure Dubya’s second term.
You can read the interview by Ms. Kowal with Mr. Chelsea here.
David Chelsea is the sort of cartoonist who can create precise work while also keeping it very fluid. He has mastered his art and he has a wicked sense of humor. Nice combination, don’t you think? If you’re new to his work, you’ll definitely want to check out his new collection that brings together his first six 24-Hour Comics projects. Here’s the deal with these 24-Hour Comics projects, they are just as the name implies, not for the faint of heart: 24 pages of comics within 24 hours.
The site of the 2006 24-Hour Comics at David Chelsea’s studio, photo by Tom Lechner
There is something absurd going on at any given time. It could be a cat climbing a skyscraper in order to deflect a mouse, hired by Donald Trump, to sabotage Harold Lloyd’s efforts to climb to the top of that same skyscraper.
Hmmm, what now? How does that work? How do you get such complexity and absurdity? It’s part magic is what it is. If you follow the rules to a 24-Hour Comics project, as created by comics theoretician Scott McCloud, you can definitely think about what you’d like to do but you can’t script anything beforehand. You can only rely on what’s brewing in your noggin.
What Chelsea does is go in with an idea of what he wants to accomplish and then, throughout the night, he’ll pull out images from out of a sack and use them to guide the story along. So, it could start with a photo of Harold Lloyd.
Then Donald Trump emerges as a villain.
A mouse gets thrown into the mix.
And a cat gets to help save the day.
David Chelsea is modest about “The Harold Project” and describes it as “goofy and insubstantial but no more so than a lot of other things I spent more time on.” Of course, its “insubstantial” quality is what is so beautiful about it, as if out of a dream.
Ironic as it sounds, if there is one thing these sleep-depriving endeavors share, it is a dreamlike quality. Let the tomatoes fight the kangaroos over raspberries! Anything is possible in a 24 Hour Comic. Any takers? Chelsea has been at it to where he’s likely reached an unbeatable status as having achieved the most 24 Hour Comics gigs at 16 and counting.
Nat Gertler, the founder of the annual 24-Hour Comics Day, believes that Chelsea keeps going for the sheer thrill of it. For a cartoonist of Chelsea’s caliber, what could be better than to let loose, like jazz, and float away in a whirlwind of improvisation?
The 24-Hour Comic is the perfect venue for Chelsea to declare that, “Everybody gets it wrong!” and then go about showing up each and everyone one of us for all our wrongness!
EVERYBODY GETS IT WRONG! the first volume of David Chelsea 24-Hour Comics, is a 152-page hardcover, 6″x9″, $14.99, published by Dark Horse Comics and available as of June 5. Visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics here.
And check out the recent Comics Grinder interview with David Chelsea here.
If you’re new to the work of cartoonist David Chelsea, then you’ve got to watch, or read, “Are You Being Watched?” and you’ll become an instant fan. Watch, view, and read it here. It all becomes more clear to you now, I would imagine. The lighter than air, seemingly effortless, style and the ever so quirky humor all coming together in a comic that was created in the span of 24 hours. It’s a surreal tale about a guy with a coffee mug for a head who is in love with a rather fickle woman who is obsessed with reality TV. How can poor Mugg attract Mandy? By becoming a reality TV sensation! And that’s a taste of what you’ll find from one of America’s leading cartoonists and illustrators, Mr. David Chelsea.
But not so fast, why 24 hours? That’s a good question. Well, that’s how it’s done in certain cartoonist circles. It goes back to cartoonist Scott McCloud’s challenge to all cartoonists to create a work in the span of 24 hours. And this has led to an official international observance on the first weekend in October known as 24-Hour Comics Day. Of course, you can put on a 24 Hour Comic at any time of the year and some diehard fans do just that. And you’d be hard pressed to find a more diehard fan of this unique activity than David Chelsea.
Panel from “Are You Being Watched?” by David Chelsea
“Are You Being Watched” was David Chelsea’s 15th 24 Hour Comic, drawn March 2-3, 2013, at Theater For The New City, in New York City. And he’s embarking on his 16th this weekend, May 18-19, at Things From Another World, in Portland, Oregon. This is a man who loves to draw comics and is a professional in every way, well regarded and respected in the industry.
Having a chance to pose some questions to him, I am pleased to report back to all of you that Mr. Chelsea and I arrived at a successful interview via e-mail on Friday, May 17, 2013. The following is our exchange. It should prove most enjoyable and informative. Not only does it get published on the weekend of his latest 24-Hour comics adventure but it also anticipates a wonderful upcoming book published by Dark Horse Comics, “Everybody Gets It Wrong! And Other Stories,” a 152-page hard cover that collects Mr. Chelsea’s first six 24-Hour Comics, available June 5, 2013. Find more details by visiting our friends at Dark Horse Comics here.