Back in October I blogged about our new comic club, the Moustache Potatoes. I said I would post about what I was doing every couple of weeks or so... (note to self, don't make promises!). Here is what we got up to for the rest of the term:
- We watched Bruce Blitz's "Make your Own Comic Book" tutorial and talked about his basic steps (Story Idea, Design Characters, Write Script, Rough Layout, Pencil, Ink). Bruce has a book called "The Big Book of Cartooning" which is good value.
- I talked about where speech bubbles should be placed, and in what order.
- We then practised making our own comics using this blank six panel page.
- We shared some stop motion videos that the students had made (this was an opportunity offered by Hamilton City Libraries, I'll post about it later).
- We talked about some basic questions and ideas for creating a comic:
- What happens? Plan beginning, middle and end.
- Describe the best or worst day in your life. Embellish to make a story.
- Decide – are your characters human, or animals that act human?
- Use fairytales for story ideas – make changes to the story e.g. add new characters, change details, change ending, think about what might have happened to the hero before or after the events described in the story.
- Use interesting events/situations from your own life for story ideas – school, family, friends.
- I showed some different pages copied from Tintin, Babymouse, Hardy Boys etc. These were examples of different speech bubbles, thought bubbles, exclamation and question marks (classic Tintin!), sounds and music.
- I also showed them a page called "Calling the Shots" from Drawing Comics Lab. This describes how you can use different perspectives in a comic - from close-ups to an establishing shot.
- In response to students saying that they couldn't think of anything to make their comics about I handed out an example comic, with general suggestions for each panel and a bit of dialogue. There was a lot of leeway for them to include their own ideas, but it wasn't successful. I really thought they might produce a variety of stories based on my simple idea, but perhaps it was still too prescriptive. I guess they preferred no ideas to someone else's!
- A bit of fun this week with Dav Pilkey's Flip-O-Rama tutorial.
- I didn't show my students this but I was really impressed with Dav's ice bucket challenge:
- We did more flip-o-rama because as expected one session was not enough!
- Students also had the option to try out the Comic Life and Make Beliefs apps on the library's iPads.
- This was our last week because, despite protests, I had to accept that things were getting very busy as the end of the term approached.
- I was very happy with the Random Comic Generator that I created, inspired by the drawing exercise suggested in Drawing Comics Lab (pg.25). This was popular with the Moustache Potatoes, who came up with some very creative comic strips.
- Had I done another week I would have done a session on superheroes. I have a book on how to draw Marvel superheroes and another one on heroes, both are out of print but there are others out there.
- I ask the students what they think their superhero will look like, their name, their powers, their secret identity, their sidekick, their weakness, their weapons, their enemy, their mission. Then I ask them to make a comic about their adventures.
- For inspiration they can also create their own superhero with The Hero Factory and Marvel's Create your own Superhero (these websites don't work on an iPad).
Each week we would look at any drawings that the Moustache Potatoes had done at home. I would make sure that books on comics and how to draw were sitting on the tables and I often pointed out graphic novels to inspire the students and encourage them to read. The Stickman Odyssey books were great to show that even a simple picture can tell a story. The Flanimals series by Ricky Gervais are not graphic novels but the pictures and descriptions are also fun to try and imitate at home.
I hope these posts are useful if you are looking at doing something like this yourself. Don't let any lack of artistic ability hold you back - I didn't! The students said they liked trying out new things, and they enjoyed being with peers who liked to draw. They were very enthusiastic and fun to work with, and a few of them were struggling academically so it was nice to see them having fun in the library.