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Iowa City Business Hosts 24-hour Comics Day

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IOWA CITY, Iowa - Pen-in-hand, 26-year-old Shane O'Shaughnessy sat hunched over a white piece of paper early Sunday morning, crafting the second installment of his comic: Spuds Malone, Private Eye.

Surrounded by ink-laden pages and food debris from the night previous, O'Shaughnessy and Jay Lekklar continued to draw their comics calmly during the 18th hour of 24-hour Comics Day at Critical Hits Games in Iowa City.

The worldwide event challenges artists to draw a 24-page comic in just 24 hours -- something O'Shaughnessy, who also founded the Iowa City Comics Creators Club, said would typically take him at least a month. The comics are then scanned and posted online.

The original 24-hour comic was created by Author and Cartoonist Scott McCloud as part of a dare with a friend in 1990, according to the event's website. Since then, other artists and illustrators around the world have accepted the challenge.

This year, the 24-hour Comics Day event page says at least 37 locations outside the United States are participating, in addition to at least 82 locations in 33 states in the U.S. That doesn't include those who sign up to participate online.

O'Shaughnessy, who had completed about 16 pages of his comic by 8 a.m. Sunday morning, said things got tough around 4 a.m., adding he'd had several cups of coffee and a few cigarettes to get him through the night.

"It's good for creating stuff because your dream state is mixing with your lucid state, and things get mixed," O'Shaughnessy said of the challenge.

Though he came in with a rough draft, O'Shaughnessy added he had a lot of work to fit in on his comic -- which is based around a potato who also serves as a detective -- before the challenge ended at noon.

Lekklar, a 21-year-old international student at the University of Iowa, said the challenge was something he had never done before. Though he has been drawing comics for 9 years, the Thailand native said he typically finishes a 20-page comic in two months, balancing his hobby with school.

"It's difficult. I've never really done something like this, I do draw comics -- series and pages -- and I usually go for 20 pages max before my inspiration or creativity dies out," Lekklar said. "And then it's usually left unfinished and so 24-pages will be a challenge and to do it all in 24 hours will also be something unique to me."

Lekklar, who is studying English and theater at the UI, said he typically bases his comics around his life, or things that he wishes would happen to friends or people he knows. On Sunday, he was working on a comic about a trip he took with a friend for Thanksgiving and his experience as an international student.

The 21-year-old UI senior the event is a good way to bring artists and artwork together.

"It's around the world and each of these places will post their stuff online," Lekklar said. "So it's not really a competition in any sort of way, it's about bringing the art form and the community together."

Though Critical Hits Games, 702 S. Gilbert St. #104, doesn't sell comics, Owner Landon Fry said he likes to make their extra space available to the community.

"It's not primarily what our store does, but we really like to open up our event space for the community and to be able to host events like this along with any other events that need it," Fry said.

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