The Royal Alberta Museum got a unique sending-off gift from a local comic book shop over the weekend.
As the museum held a 48-hour closing party, starting Friday evening and ending Sunday evening, a troop of artists were hard at work attempting to complete the world’s biggest comic book, from concept to characters to colourization, in just two days, with each of the pages measuring five feet tall and three feet wide.
The effort was spearheaded by Happy Harbor Comics after the museum approached owner Jay Bardyla about being involved in the closing party in some way.
“I was trying to think of doing something we don’t already normally do at the shop,” he said. “We do run a lot of events and things. And the first thing that popped into my head was, ‘Let’s just try to make the biggest comic book in the world.'”
When the museum party started at 5 p.m. Friday, Bardyla got the ball rolling by handing the writers who had signed up a folder with details on nine characters to be included in the comic book. The characters were named after people who donated at least $250 to the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation. The writers then started coming up with story ideas centred on the museum, while the artists started on concept art.
It was a tricky process considering how the comic book had to be built.
“We have six sheets of paper, and each sheet of paper will produce four pages of the comic book. But those four pages aren’t connected in any way; because you put the sheets on top of each other and fold it in half, they’re all kind of staggered,” Bardyla said. “So you can only work on two pages at a time, but it takes a while for the script to evolve, and you start the script at Page 1. In theory, the first sheet has Page 1 and Page 24.”
When Bardyla approached artists about getting involved with the project, the response was “enthusiastic,” but unfortunately not everyone who wanted to take part was able to because of scheduling conflicts.
“We didn’t get quite the number of people that we wanted, but things have kind of worked out anyway,” he said on Saturday afternoon, about halfway through the 48-hour party.
Multiple artists mean multiple styles, though, but Bardyla was confident everything would meld together into one cohesive work.
“You have a lot of scene changes, so when you change from scene to scene, those stylistic changes are less jarring,” he said. “We’re also hoping that a consistent colour technique – the way we’re going to colour the pages – will help tie everything together.”
With the weekend-long party wrapped up, Bardyla plans to take the pages to one of his printers to get them digitally photographed so they can be reproduced at smaller sizes. The original comic book will go to a different printer to get all the pages stapled together, and it will be auctioned off in 2016, again to raise money for the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation.
The new Royal Alberta Museum building, located on 103A Avenue between 97th and 99th Streets, should be complete by mid-2016 and, after moving artifacts over, the museum expects to re-open in either late 2017 or early 2018.