Amazing Arizona Comics’ creator does 24-hour Comic Challenge

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Russ Kazmierczak, Jr.
Russ Kazmierczak, Jr. at Phoenix Fan Fest – 2014

In a hidden lab at Arizona State University, a poisonous virus is being manufactured and threatens to destroy all of humanity. Local politicians and police should be on the case, but they are too busy debating “body cameras” that could be used to create more publicity for the county Sherriff. Meanwhile, feral cats run rampant throughout the nation’s hottest metropolitan city. One man has 24 hours to save the world from annihilation. The clock is ticking.

No, the man is not Jack Bauer and this is not the plot of the next “24” television special, but it could possibly be a storyline in Russ Kazmierczak’s “Amazing Arizona Comics’ 24-Hour Comic Challenge,” taking place from Noon on Saturday (June 20, 2015) through Noon Sunday (June 21), in the window of HUB, the Phoenix Melrose District’s cool new high-concept furniture shop that is fast becoming a hot spot for art and cultural events like Kazmierczak’s twenty-four-hour comic adventure.

Russ Kazmierczak, Jr.
Russ Kazmierczak, Jr.

The “24-hour Comic Challenge” has been around since 1990, when renowned comic creator, Scott McCloud, first attempted the feat himself and ended up fostering an annual event, with a specific set of rules:

  • The comic, from concept to completion, must be finished within 24 consecutive hours.
  • Only one creator can be directly involved in the book’s creation.
  • The book must be 24 pages in length (that’s an average of one page per hour according to my calculator.)
  • Research materials and drawing tools can be obtained before starting.
  • The comic’s story cannot be planned in advance. (Rumor has it that mysterious Men in Black may be on hand to wipe Russ’ memory before he starts.)
  • Absolutely nothing can be put on paper in advance of starting the challenge.
  • Breaks for food, rest, or any other purpose are counted as part of the creator’s 24-hours.

The “officially” recognized 24-hour comic event date isn’t until next October, but illustrators around the world attempt the challenge throughout the year.

When asked why he chose a (predicted) 114 degree day in June to attempt this feat, Kazmierczak said, “Summer is a slow, or at least intimidating time to attempt special events, so I wanted to do what I could to boost the scene, especially with something I’ve always wanted to do anyway. If it goes well, I’ll be honored to join the artists who participate in the official October event! By then, I’ll know what I’m capable of.”

Amazing Arizona Comic's 24-hour Comic ChallengeA furniture shop, even one as hip as HUB, seems an unlikely venue to showcase a comic art event, but Kazmierczak explains, “HUB hosts a poetry night on third Fridays, and when I met Cynthia Black [HUB proprietor] and learned of her passion for the arts, I asked her about hosting this event and she was intrigued.”

“Cynthia claims to know little of comics,” Russ continued, “but I’ve learned that she knew Harvey Pekar when he was writing American Splendor in the ’70s. She didn’t know how big comics were then, or would be now…but that small experience gave her the mentality to consider my project today.”

Russ’ Amazing Arizona Comics are family-friendly, witty, satirical stories that incorporate local news stories and Arizona landmarks with his homegrown stable of superheroes. His hope is that the 24-hour exhibition will draw attention to comic books as a live, regionally-driven art form.

As “Arizona’s Ambassador of Comics,” Kazmierczak has recently exhibited his love of the sequential art medium at the Tucson Art Press Expo, Ignite Phoenix 17, The Galaxxy Show, Phoenix Comicon, and Bookman’s in Phoenix and Flagstaff. He is also a regular contributor to NERDVANA.

If you go:

What? Amazing Arizona Comics’ 24 Hour Comic Challenge
Saturday, June 20, 2015, 12:00 p.m. – Sunday, June 21, 2015, 12:00 p.m.
Where? HUB, 4610 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix 85013
Why? To learn and enjoy the comic creation experience and immerse yourself in Arizona culture, as it happens, LIVE!
Can I visit Russ at 3:15 in the morning? Yes, but leave that Amityville Horror stuff at home!
Music? In addition to the live-action comic creation, evening entertainment at the event will be provided by Onus Records.
Facebook Event: Amazing Arizona Comics’ 24 Hour Comic Challenge
Russ’ Podcast about the event:

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.