Drawn out?

Observations on a comic marathon

On 6 October, some of the UK's sharpest cartoonists gathered at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London for a unique test of creativity and endurance: a 24-hour comic marathon, during which each artist was challenged to create a spontaneous 24-page story.

Among the participants were David Simonds (pictured right), representing the New Statesman, Steven Appleby from the Guardian, the crew from Le Gun magazine, Matilda Tristram from Bad Idea magazine and four or five Japanese manga artists.

While some of the participants opted for tales of rapacious landlords, sci-fi adventure or, in the case of Steven Appleby, a story about a mind-reading evangelical murderer, our David embraced the big picture. "I'm charting the history of evolution from the Big Bang to George Bush," he said, explaining: "It begins and ends in darkness."

The event, which was part of a season at the ICA celebrating comic art, took place simultaneously in 58 locations across 17 countries, with participants from as far afield as Indonesia, Serbia and Brazil, who contributed by blog on www.24hourcomics.com.

Six hours in, David was bearing up well: "Just got to keep going," he told me between brisk pen strokes. "If I get RCI - repetitive comic injury - I shall send the bill to the New Statesman."