Cranium Comics

Stories that get in your head.

Comic Book Workshop a Success!

I was recently contacted by a local daycare to put on a Comic Book Workshop for campers ranging from 5-12 years of age. I was given no distinct direction to the project, however both the event coordinator and I agreed that it would be great to introduce comics to children who are unfamiliar with them and possibly those who are not yet fans of reading books.

An Introduction

anthony_folioThe class was made up of 17 children and lasted for two hours. Because there was a heavier dose of girls than boys, I decided to focus my first drawing on creating something more suited to their sensibilities. Hello Kitty came to mind as it fit well within the age range I was targeting. So as not to bore the older boys in the room, the next sketch was a depiction of Captain America. The day started with a basic introduction. I shared with the class who I was and what I do as the creator of Cranium Comics, then showed examples of my work. From there, I made sure to show examples of other comics, graphic novels, and Manga. I wanted these kids to know that comics are accessible at just about every local library, book store, or comic shop. I made sure to share fliers announcing Yomicon, a local manga/cosplay event happening at a library not too far from the daycare. After they were familiar with everything I presented, I answered questions before moving on.

Developing a Character

anthony_helpBeyond the final product I produce, we talked about the process I use to create my art, which includes the story, artwork, and coloring. That helped frame the hands-on part of the workshop. I outlined three things they were going to do: 1) Draw a character 2) Create a story, then 3) Build their very own comic.

Drawing each character involved step-by-step artwork I had generated the night before (3 each for Hello Kitty and Captain America). The first step was essentially the basic shapes and lines – essentially the underlying structure of the character. The second step involved adding weight and/or shape to the basic sketch. The final step was to darken the lines (inking), then coloring the final product. Because we were limited by the supplies available on hand, we used pencils, crayon and water soluble markers. Once the children were comfortable with the basic building blocks of creating a character, I moved onto having them come up with their own story.

Creating a Unique Comic

boys_comicI provided printouts of comic layouts for them to use as a starting point. These were basic 8.5″ x 11″ sheets of paper printed front and back with comic panels for the kids to fill in themselves. The cover of the mini-comic consisted of the title “Amazing Comics” whereas the back had a variant cover with a somewhat more whimsicle title. The class really enjoyed developing their own stories and creating their own art. Some of the students actually decided to share the responsibility of writing and drawing, swapping ideas & artwork between two and sometimes three people. Ideas ranged from fire-breathing lizards with special powers to fairy princesses and giant polar bears.

Coloring Their Work

workshopWe then moved on to coloring the comics. Many of the kids dove right in, using the trays of crayons the daycare provided before migrating to colored pencils. Although there were a variety of skill levels in the group, all showcased great, expressive designs. Each had their own personal story to tell and I found that allowing them to share and articulate their vision with me was a great exercise.

Summary

I was impressed with how well the kids followed along with my rendering both the Captain America and Hello Kitty artwork. It was really neat to see how their imaginations took over to form their own ideas. We all had a lot of fun and the kids were able to take something away with them about creating their own stories and art.

A PDF of the comic worksheet used during the class can be downloaded by right-clicking and saving comic_pages_final.pdf

2 Responses to “Comic Book Workshop a Success!”

  1. I wish we had one of these in our area! I live in Perry, GA. Where was this camp located? My 10 year old loves to create comics!!!

  2. It’s located in Austin, Texas. If you send me your email address, I can make sure you get a copy of the PDFs I created for the course. It’s really been a lot of fun and I’ve done it for several groups now. I’ll make sure I take pictures of the next one and post a short article again.

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