Comic Co-Creations – stage 1

Nephews drawing of a dinosaur eating a car

So here’s a thing I’ve been thinking about lately, how to use the comic book format to share, teach, learn and co-create with students. With yesterday’s announcement of Lynda Barry as a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, I am inspired (by her always) to share my tale. I’ve been pondering this in the context of my day job (facilitating professors and their students create media), but this past weekend I had an idea to flip into a more personal context.

A few things came together for this project, but the inspiration was wanting to start a pen-pal correspondence with my nephews. At ages 13 and 10, these boys love comics, and I’ve had the pleasure of receiving many gifts from them over the years adorned with their wacky sense of humor and visual storytelling.

Case in point, my Honeymoon gift card. Nephews drawing of a dinosaur eating a car

My idea was to initiate a “comic book conversation”, and create a space we could draw and tell stories together. Not unlike the Tic Tac Toe jam I read about earlier this year, but with more of an age gap between the participants. From an instructors perspective, my workshops have always involved a variety of activities, but central are the ideas of storytelling, synthesizing concepts into image and text, and considering format, whether its a sequence of slides, or map that can be explored, analogue or digital. As an uncle, I was aiming for more conversation and creative discovery, so I ended up mashing some ideas/formats from a couple of creators.

Visual Summary from “Living Documents”: Drawing a 3-Panel Comic from Primary Sources” by Marek Bennet.

First was a recent share from a good buddy of mine, who pointed out an article from Marek Bennet. Published on the Children’s Literary Foundations website, “Living Documents”: Drawing a 3-Panel Comic from Primary Sources” is a great guide on how he synthesizes a complex narrative into a simple visual layout. Breaking down a text ideas into basic elements, faces, setting, action. This is very approachable for novices, but I feel more intuitive for youthful minds. Personally, I like having the roadmap Marek provides!

A couple of copies of the Nelson Gnome Home. by Monica Sylvie

Coincidentally and almost entirely unrelated, I happen to live in the west end of Vancouver. SO LUCKY to be a neighbor to the Nelson Gnome Home. Monica Sylvie has been sharing her “gnome home” series for FREE, distributing the publications from the gnome home itself. (we have the entire collection! ) Not only are these charming and endearing comics, but the format she used can conveniently be printed out on a tabloid sheet of paper, and with a little cutting and folding be made into a perfect ”zine-like” publication. I copied it, by hand!

Comic Co-Creation process

This page design, when folded and strategically cut, gives you 4 inside pages, each is double backed so you can use markers or what have you, and not worry about bleed through to the other side. I drew part of a title, outlined some panels on page 1 and set up the story. To give a bit more direction I added some post-it prompts for the boys to consider. We’ll see what I get back.

For some reason I don’t think I am done with this format. I Am brimming with ideas how to bring this into my workshops, and am eager to share the templates, and other shareable resources, but first I need to make a few things. Future topics will include

  • Super hero landing stick people
  • Lesson plan comics
  • Drawing in Class
  • Visual Note-taking Zines
  • Abstract comics and kids
  • ???

I will keep posting!

Drawing in Research

I’m giving a webinar for the PHC Knowledge Translation Community of Practice today and wanted to jot down a few notes as a companion. Many of the activities I have included were used in my Going Visual workshops at SFU. For the sake of this session, I am revising them below. The title of the webinar is…

“Drawn to Your Research: Using Visuals to Improve Academic and Non-Academic Presentations”, will guide participants through a series of fun drawing exercises designed to amplify your visual literacy. No previous drawing experience is required, only a willingness to make your marks!

Visual Practice

I must clarify first what I will mean by “presentations”.  It could in fact be a powerpoint presentation that you are working in which, many researches would be used to. But for the sake of this session I will widen the scope of presentation to anytime you are telling the story of your research, whether that be in the boardroom, the classroom or elevator. You may in fact find yourselves presenting your research on the back of the proverbial napkin, and if so, this workshop is intended directly for you.

Drawing, and more specifically drawing comics has been making headway in academia lately. In my world of teaching and learning, we use it to help synthesize ideas for the classroom, but in the research world the audience and the time you have with them can be much more diverse, and unpredictable. Regardless of audience, there is something much more approachable about a quick doodle or sketch compared to a graph, diagram or white paper. Case in point Jorge Cham (PHD comics) and Daniel Whiteson have teamed up to bring us  We Have No Idea a collection of comics dedicated to answering some of sciences toughest problems, in a comic book format.

So many ideas, a sketchnote

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