Collaboration has been long been a central part of sequential art–comics & cartoons.
Since their reinvention as a mass produced Pop Culture medium during the heyday of the American newspapers and newsstand comics, most have been created by a teem working together. In many ways before that even! The very first printed comics had to be hand copied to plates for printing so the first inkers were engravers!
It was often about efficiency of course, but comradery and sociability were a part of it most of the time as well. Work is never always golden, but even if by necessity, still also ideally a pleasant time can be had making funny books to pay the bills. It should be a time well spent as well as well earned?
Somewhere in that long tradition, likely after jazz musicians started calling what they do Jamming, artists began to used the same term when they drew collaboratively for fun and profit. Because play is good for the heart.
This is also, why I decided to host the Jam again right now.
Because we all have greater reasons than ever to seek out comradery and sociability!
For me personally, when I first encountered Comix/Comics Jams, and formal collaborative art making even earlier in high school, it was an easy way to connect with humans, as well as making things. Something I don’t do that often the rest of the time either.
The first time I know of that it was called a Comix Jam in print, was the 60’s Zap all Stars short non narrative comix they produced together . [see the splash page here as an example]
They were introduced to me by Bernie Mireault, and I hosted them myself in the late 90s and early 00s.
In a Comic Jam,
participants take turns drawing
consecutive or random panels.
They pass them around
until the page is full.
Composing spontaneous collaborative stories, exquisite corpses, and mad splash pages!
A lot of jams are more about the social opportunity for the artists than the art.
And it also makes the art a lot more fun if they can let go of perfectionist urges and treat it as play.
It’s not all fart jokes and drinks. Some Jams are more about craft than blowing off steam. But the fun silly socials are invaluable as a baulm for our long solo hours in the studio, and as learning opportunities as well if you keep your eyes open.
They of course tap into the mechanics of storytelling so it only takes a modest increase in focus and effort to make it deeper learning experience. And seeing how other’s solve various visual and storytelling problems is a joy for a curious doodlers mind.
Some are more traditional narratives but often the artist will rift on ideas rather than a conventional linear story.
When I started going to Jams regularly in the mid 90s, they served as a kind of creative therapy.
I was a bit burnt out in 1993, on my way to being more so! Discovering the Jams held in Montreal then, hosted then by Rupert Bottenberg helped me find my way back to having fun with drawing comics after a rough few years drawing books for Marvel Comics.
They also let me explore style and storytelling ideas I just couldn’t play with in the kinds of jobs that were taking up most of my time then. And I’ve seen both artists eager to; And artists who had never before considered making them, get hooked on comics after dropping in for a Jam in the classic form of bar room gatherings.
Comix Jams continue to be held all over the world now, but in our current timeline, moving to the online model using software like Zoon and Aggie, lets us cartoonists continue this tradition without missing a beat.
That convinced me this was something I wanted to do again for sure. So I hope you’ll join me for a future Monthly Montreal Comix Jam, or if you rather hook up with some of your local crew and try the same tools yourself!
See you in the funny pages!
Max aka Salgood Sam
You can join this Facebook Group and get to know the regulars, and you’ll be invited to ‘event’ pages created there for the Jams. Or if you don’t like or use the FB monster, then sign up for the mailing list here…!
Salgood Sam aka Max Douglas: A Montreal based creator with 30 years of comic making madness under his belt.