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.
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.
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!
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!