Comics Jam Medicine

This evening I was very blue. Seeing too many disturbing posts on Facebook put me over the top, and I was paralyzed with blueness. Maybe even shading into ultraviolet. I had been in a very good mood earlier in the day, and sat down for a late afternoon pick-me-up tea, hoping to look at some interesting photos or catch up with what friends were doing before I got back to work. But it seemed one of those days when everyone had scary news of the world to share. My good mood evaporated in a cloud of steam, only to rain down again as a bleak, black mood. I had intended to work this evening on a new book cover, but couldn’t concentrate, so I tidied up the studio (remember the first thing on the list that I mentioned a couple of days ago?).

Almost every Wednesday night, a group of the people I took the comics program with last year get together at a local restaurant for “half price burgers after 9”, which started when we had a late class during spring semester, and we’ve used the regular get-togethers to keep in touch. But we don’t just chow down on burgers and chat — we jam! I didn’t feel much like going out tonight, but I knew I would feel better if I did.

A comics jam is just like musicians do, only visual — one person will start a theme, another will pick it up for a bit, then toss it to the person across the table. A panel is drawn on a piece of paper with the start of a story, then passed to the next person for the next panel, and so on, until we run out of paper or resolution is reached. Sometimes stories go on for many pages, sometimes they are just a quick joke strip of 3 or 4 panels. We’ve gotten into a groove of trying to pace the stories so they come out on one piece of paper.  They are spontaneous, often hilarious, and sometimes brilliant, even though (or because) we only spend a few minutes on each panel.

Somehow I’ve become the keeper of the jam archives (because I have the scanner!), so when we got there I passed around the various notebooks and unfinished jams and we got down to creating while we waited for our meals. I was still stuck, but then I thought, why not just be honest? I’ll draw where I’m at right now. So I did, and here it is:

It's not really that bad, Ray!

Ray, the woeful comic jam dog

Poor sad dog! In the end, everything came out all right — two little birds told “Ray” (someone named him that in about panel 3) that they loved him anyway, and all was well in the world! I’m still not feeling like all is totally well in the world, but I’m feeling a heck of a lot better, thanks to good friends, drawing, and a lot of laughter over our silly stories.

3 responses to “Comics Jam Medicine

  1. Hi Karen, thanks for visiting my blog and liking some of my posts ! I very much like your illustrations and maquettes (went to your facebook site to have a look), very nice characters and ideas. Sure will come back to see some more of your interesting work 😉


    • Thanks, Cristine! I enjoyed your maquettes as well (that tag is how I found you). I am following you back (isn’t that a funny concept?) and will check out more of your blog — looks like you have many interests!


      • Hi Karen, that´s great, yes the Blogging concept is quite fun and I still have not found out all the tricks ;-). You´re right with those many interests. I found your drawings inspiring and will do some sketches of my characters as well. I look foreward to see more posts of your interesting projects.


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