Have you ever heard of Hourly Comic Day? On certain corners of the internet, every February 1st, you may suddenly find your timelines and streams flooded by autobio comics. People share, hour-by-hour, what they’re up to on that day in comics form. I have participated on and off for many years (I first tried it in 2010!), but only now has it occurred to me that it’s really just another form of journaling. I mostly see other comic artists doing it, but there’s no reason anyone else here wouldn’t be able to give it a go.
There’s no specific format or limit to hourlies. Some folks draw a full row or page of comic panels per hour; others capture it in one drawing and a sentence or two. I’ve done it a couple different ways; in 2021, for example I did one panel per hour, clearly labelled.
But this year, 2023, I loosely organized a bunch of drawings on a page, not so much focusing on things that happened to me as much as the sorts of things that came up in my mind as I moved through the day.
Some other technical tips:
- If you have grid or dot grid papers, you can use those to help draw panels. You can even draw the boxes ahead of -time and fill them in as you go, for a very consistent look.
- Pace yourself, and capture as much or as little as you like. If something seems too complicated, draw just a little piece of it and leave the heavy lifting to your text.
- Beware noodling. It’s very easy to get caught up finessing the drawings…and before you know it, the hour has passed! The“drawing these hourlies” hour is a very common panel for this reason, lol.
- Try setting a time to draw your comics, and/or put on a literal timer while doing them: i.e. draw the comic in the last fifteen minutes of each hour.
- It’s also perfectly okay to take shortcuts or longcuts: condense several hours into one comic, draw a few comics every four hours instead of hourly, or just take notes on what you’re doing and draw all the comics at the end of the day/when you have time.
- My personal preference: draw using pen (or for an extra challenge, using pencil with no erasing allowed) to encourage yourself to commit to your lines and not overthink what you’re putting down.
And of course, if you prefer not to draw, you can still convert the idea to your favorite method of journaling: jot down a few sentences and accompany them with specially-chosen stickers and stamps, or make a tiny collage for each hour. This is not an hourly example, but it is a non-written, non-pictorial one: in the year overview section of my current JIYU, at the bottom of each column, I leave a record of the colors I’m gravitating to the most for each month using scraps of washi tape and paper.
“But A.C., what if my day is nothing to draw home about?” I get the feeling, but I wouldn’t worry about it. If most of the artists I know took an ultra-realistic approach, plenty of our hourlies would simply be drawings of very cool, possibly bespectacled people doing inscrutable activities at desks. I suppose you could plan ahead to venture out and do a variety of things on February 1st, just to give yourself unusual things to record. But with a little creativity and humor, even the most “boring” hours can make for some really compelling drawings. I especially love seeing what different people come up with for the blocks of time that are just “sleeping”: themselves curled up with pets? A closeup of closed eyes, or the alarm clock, or the view from the bedroom window? A black void? Anything goes.
I enjoy getting these rare glimpses into other artists’ daily lives and thoughts, which whether by distance, not knowing each other personally, or by the internal nature of our work, would otherwise be a mystery. But remember that while there’s certainly an energizing social aspect to the Day, there’s no need to post or share hourlies at all. As with any form of personal journaling, your life is your own to savor, always. Whether made of words, images, both, or none, I wish you a merry time dishing out your own slices-of-life.
Text and photos by: A.C. Esguerra
Where to find A.C. : instagram @blueludebar
Read other stories by A.C. : Here
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