What is a Comics Jam?
Simply put, a jam comic is to a regular comic as improv theatre is to a broadway play.
A group of writer/artists create a comic on the fly without a script, characters, or even a plan. Like improv theatre, there are no do-overs and each creator must work under extreme time constraints. The results can be surprisingly good.
Here is how we ran our jam session at Con-Version XX:
1) each person starts out with a blank sheet and has five minutes to complete an opening panel.
2) at the end of five minutes, sheets are passed one seat to the left (clockwise) and the next person has five minutes to complete the next panel.
3) repeat step 2 until the pages are done.
Rules of Engagement
The standard jam rules applied: no dream sequence escape hatches; no editing of preceding panels; respect the storyline; pens must be put down and sheets passed along when time is up.
The CVXX Comics Jam Seating Arrangement
seating plan
This was the seating arrangement for the CVXX jam. It wasn't actually this pretty, since we couldn't get everyone at one big table, but this gives you an idea of the order in which the pages were passed along.
Chaos Theory
As you look at the pages, keep in mind that each person had about sixty seconds to think of where to take the story next, then about four minutes to draw it and dialogue it with no possibility of revision. A normal comic is created at the rate of one page per day, on average. The comics jam created nine pages in just under an hour.
We had a very strong group this year, and it shows in the results. Everyone displayed a good understanding of the basics of page layout: establish a setting and protagonist, establish an antagonist and a dilemma, keep the sequence moving, resolve the dilemma, don't end the sequence short or run out of panels.
Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves at the jam and, Foley willing, there will be more. See you all at Con-Version XXI!