I’ve done hourly comics day for a while now - 2013 - 2014 - 2015 - 2016 - and am looking forward to doing it again this year. Someone emailed me to ask for advice on the upcoming hourly comics day on the 1st Feb. I wrote this reply below.

Plan ahead. You are going to have a much simpler time if you have worked out your paper, pens, formats etc beforehand. 

It is a pretty tough thing to do so figuring out in advance what tools, style or size you’ll work at beforehand is essential. I work on these pretty small, probably about 15cm square.

My style is very forgiving and lends itself to working quickly so depending on your own style and speed at which you work you might need to make adjustments. It’s about getting it done, not getting it right on hourly comics day!

I work in a sketchbook and have a grid printed out beforehand which I use as a guide for the panels so I can stay consistent.

I’ll usually keep notes on my phone for possible things that happened that hour and then fix in my mind the wording and the number of panels it’ll take to get it to read right.

I think of the panels as punctuation points. With the story in mind, I draw out the panels first, then letter them, then draw the characters. I have to do it all in one sitting or I tend to lose the overall picture in my mind for the page.

I use a pen with waterproof ink so I can paint them with watercolour. I use a little travel watercolour set with a pentel aquabrush for the sake of working quickly and not having to carry a jar of water with me everywhere.

I don’t pencil them out beforehand as it takes too long for no visible benefit. If i screw a drawing up I’ll just start again. You can’t be precious on hourly comics day!

I have a couple of ways I like to work with the story. I try not to draw myself drawing the comics. Although it is by far the most dominant thing you’ll do that day, it gets boring pretty quick if all the pages are a variation on ‘ah jeez gotta finish this comic’. I also tend to draw both things that I do and things that I think or imagine. It isn’t beneath me to exaggerate a thing that happened for the sake of more interesting comics.

The comics take me somewhere between 5 and 15 mins to do. I aim for 10 mins as a rule so I can actually get on with doing the rest of my life in the meantime! Sometimes it isn’t possible to draw straight away so don’t get precious about keeping a strict schedule. No one will mind if you get behind and have to catch up later.

To get them uploaded I’ll usually snap a photo with my phone and stick them on my site and link it on twitter. The following day I’ll scan in the pages and replace the photos with nicer versions of themselves. I don’t edit them or continue working on them beyond fixing typos.

And that’s about it, really. The thing to remember is that it meant to be fun. It can be really gruelling as you may not get excused from everyday life to draw a comic every 45 mins so remember to have fun. Hourly comics day is as much fun as you make it for yourself. Don’t get disheartened if you see 500 other people all doing amazing full colour profound slices of life- just do your thing.