6 Minute Comics

Posted on June 25th, 2015

Want to conjure some inspiration? Stuck in a creative rut? Excited to get drawing comics, but don’t know where to begin? Six Minute Comics are an effective means of generating ideas; a simple and fun technique to boost your creative output that can be undertaken whenever you have a spare six minutes to hand – be that on the train, in the pub or at home.

The Six Minute Method

Take a scrap of paper and – using a pen – divide it into four quarters. Set your timer to six minutes, and off we go!

Your panels need to be drawn in a minute-and-a-half each, so time is of the essence. Put your first idea to paper and roll with it. Art style and composition are an irrelevance – stick figures are fine. Ostentatiousness will be punished by your time limit.

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Keep an eye on the timer. After 1.5 minutes, move onto the next panel. If you’re playing in a group, pass your paper to the next person in line. Your challenge now is to build on what’s gone before. With such an unforgiving time restriction, frequent trips into the absurd are expected.

Once the timer hits three minutes, you’re halfway there. Move onto the next panel. By now, you’ll have an idea for the flavour of the comic. It’s possible you don’t know where to go next, and that’s fine. These types of problem-solving puzzles are what comics are all about! Drill on, we have faith in you.

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At 4.5 minutes you have one panel to go. How will you conclude this nimble tale? Your challenge is to wrap the package up into something semi-coherent, and that can be tough. Just make sure you add something to the panel, be it a scribble or a single word.

The six minute buzzer goes, et Voila! Your comic is complete. Read it through again, and share with the group. Has a modern masterpiece been born? A cutting satire of British life, perhaps? Unlikely, but it matters not! Six Minute Comics are all about idea generation, so you may be left with a stack of kindling, but the art is in the journey. Maybe you’ve teased out a thread to explore further down the line. Maybe not. Don’t fret on it too much. Read, enjoy, discard.

Reset your timer, and move on to the next.

Variations on the Six Minute Comic

• Double down, and give yourself three minutes per panel. The spontaneity may be lost but you’ll have a little more time to construct your panels, fine-tune that dialogue, and add those crucial few extra hairs to your protagonist’s beard.

• The back-to-front; start with the final panel, the punchline. Work your way backwards and construct a gag in reverse. Almost destined for failure – especially if you’re working in a group – but the final result is often disarmingly bizarre.

• The Adjective-Noun; for two or more players, one writes an adjective-noun pair on the back of the paper (i.e. ‘bossy vicar’, ‘angry politician’, ‘melancholy fish’). It’s up to the next player to use that as inspiration for their first panel. Particularly good if you need a starting point.

Perfect for the Pub

The Six Minute Comic has become a cornerstone of our regular Beer & Comics meet ups. It’s great fun with a group, and is always entertaining to see how different people respond to the creative pressure-cooker of a six-minute time limit. What’s more, it’s essentially free and doesn’t require much effort to organise. Pool together some pens and copy paper (appropriately lifted from work, we hope), and you’re set to go.

Below are examples of Six Minute Comics taken from recent meet-ups (click for detail). Shout outs to Matthew Dooley and James Gifford, who have lent us their talents across a pint of ale or two…

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4 Comments

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