NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ— All the latest movie blockbusters point to one thing – comic books & their superheroes are the latest pop culture obsession.

Not to be outdone by the big names like Marvel and DC Comics, some local artists & writers are taking back the grassroots, under the radar spirit of early comic book development with a formidable challenge: producing an entire 24-page comic book in just 24 hours during a competition that yields major prizes.

All this is now part of an annual tradition – the Comic In A Day competition project is taking place for the third year in a row, produced by a local non-profit organization CoLAB Arts, based in New Brunswick.

Artists are paired up with writers and go on a 24-hour retreat to produce a story and art from scratch to be presented to a live audience at the end of their allotted time.

The prize winners will be announced at the live reading and presentation of the comic books, scheduled for 7pm on October 29 at Pino’s Gift Basket Shoppe and Wine Cellar in Highland Park.  Admission to the event is $10.

“It’s all about collaboration,” said Jad Kaado, a literary curator at CoLAB Arts. “It’s about connecting all these different artists who don’t necessarily know each other. It’s about doing this outreach to these different groups that are working to better the community in some way, shape or form and creating new art that’s reflective of that.”

This year, Comic In A Day brought together three pairs of writer-artist combos to participate in the competition: Joe Cascia & Marlon Dunn, Ryan Smith & Christian Angeles, andSam Romero & Allison Baldwin.

“We have a lot of great artists this year – all of them are very talented in different ways.” explained Kaado, “Some of them are acquainted with comic books as a medium, for others, it’s their first time tackling it but they do have a strong background in literature.”

The inspiration behind the project was a result of CoLAB Arts Co-Founder and Producing Director Dan Swern working at a live performance of comic book celebrity author Neil Gaiman reading excerpts of his book.

It was part of a celebration of National Comic Book Day which is celebrated every year on May 5. Gaiman produced a comic book in 24 hours during that particular event and was presenting it to the audience.

Swern later went on to describe this performance to the CoLAB Arts team, which led to the idea of introducing something similar to the creative community of New Brunswick.

“It’s really tied in to our mission statement,” clarified Kaado. “It’s all about creating new and transformative work by connecting artists with community leaders and different community organizations in order to talk about issues that affect New Brunswick, that affect New Jersey and ultimately the country and the world.”

Editor’s Note: Jad Kaado, Christian Angeles, and Allison Baldwin are reporters for New Brunswick Today.  Sam Romero is a cartoonist for New Brunswick Today.