August 27, 2005 was a perfect summer day in Brattleboro, Vermont. The fog cleared off early, and local residents were treated to warm breezy weather as they went about their normal Saturday routines: Farmer’s Market on Route 9, yardsaling, or lazing about listening to Car Talk on VPR. It was the kind of day that warmed rocks and rustled leaves.
Dan and I (we’d been dating a year at this point) decided to go down to the Brattleboro Museum and Arts Center to join in their first (and only) ever 24 Hour Comics Challenge. Dan, the comics geek, knew more about it than I did and had expressed interest in going. Me? I just like to do fun, off-center things. So I said I’d go with him. Neither of us draw, but it was supposed to be a judge-free zone.
About 50 amateur and professional cartoonists of all ages showed up, and most of them stayed through the night and into the purpling morning. We spread ourselves between the various rooms of the museum, even sprawled out on the lawn and drew by starlight and streetlamp. The participants ranged from fresh out of high school to nearing retirement, and we worked on paper (most of us) or digitally. We went across the street to the Brattleboro Food Co-op for fortification. Some of us went home for sleep only to return later, others bundled up in our sleeping bags in a dimly-lit quiet corner. The rest of us (me included) toiled away ceaselessly.