Monday, 27 October 2014

Moustache Potatoes Comic Club

On the recommendation of my Twitter friend @mrs_hyde I recently read a book called Boy Writers: Reclaiming their voices.  I loved this book.  As the mother of two boys who don't particularly enjoy writing I was fascinated by Ralph Fletcher's look at a writing classroom from a boy's perspective.  The book looks at the things that motivate boys to write.  It talks about the fact that some boys like to use violence in their stories, that they like zany or bathroom humour, and that they like to incorporate pictures in their stories.  We need to acknowledge these things in order to engage them.  

A few years ago I ran a comic club for a term (the Angry Pencils), mostly because I had a student who loved to make comic books and I wanted to give him more ideas.  I had a good turnout, and almost all of the club was boys, but I didn't continue with it as I had other projects to keep me busy.  After reading Boy Writers I decided that I should restart my comic club in order to try to reach some of our reluctant boy writers.

We now have sixteen Year 6 students in the club.  Seven are girls, which is a lot higher than the last time I ran it, but many have come from the Ninja Readers (our book club).  I am pleased that after the first week three more boys turned up, brought along by their friends (I must be doing something right!).

If you're interested in running your own comic club, I'll post what I've been doing every couple of weeks or so.  I'm not a cartoonist or artist myself so I'm using a lot of YouTube experts and books to inspire the kids.  We meet at morning tea so time is limited.  In a way I'm running a flipped model club because we watch a couple of YouTube clips and then I send the students away to practice and watch further clips if they want to by accessing the comic club page on the school website.

Here is what we've done so far:

Week One
  • Generated ideas for a name.  A vote ended in a tie between "Moustache Pencils" and "Potato Quest" and they combined the two to come up with "Moustache Potatoes".
  • Outlined a plan for the next few weeks.  In order to draw a good comic strip we need to have characters, so first up was learning how to draw a basic cartoon face.  In Week Two the plan was to learn to draw figures and then Week Three is moving on to comic strips.
  • Watched a video - Toontorials - Basic Cartoon Face 1.  I encourage the kids to draw while watching the videos I show.
  • Character ideas - I put up different eyes, ears, hair, mouths etc that I'd copied from drawing/comic books.  We talked about mixing and matching different features to come up with different characters.
  • Facial expressions - I put up a page with different expressions and we talked about using expressions to help make your characters come to life and act for you.
  • Website - I showed them the comic club page on the website with the extra videos on it and also the QR code that they could scan if they wanted to watch the videos on the library's iPads during lunch.  The extra videos on the website for Week One are "Toontorials - Basic Cartoon Face 2" and "How to draw 20 different emotions".
  • Books - I showed them some of the library's cartoon and drawing books and also pointed out that you can get good ideas from reading our graphic novels.

Week Two

Update:  I didn't manage to post about this every couple of weeks so here is the link to my other post about the Moustache Potatoes Comic Club.

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