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Crafting a Minicomic

Written by Mac McCool Creating a hand-made minicomics gives students a taste of self-publishing and an introduction to book-making. This exercise works for students ages 8 through college-level. In this exercise, students create an 8-panel story. With low-tech instruments (e.g. glue, scissors) or high-tech tools (e.g. Photoshop), students layout their panels in the correct orientation and paging sequence before making copies to share with friends and family.Download attachment:  Crafting a Mini Comic

Practicing Text-Image Relationships

Comics express ideas through both words and images. The comic artist should play with both. That is how you learn to best use these two modes of storytelling.The downloadable exercise handout presents four main relationships and offers images without text so students can learn through practice about combining text and images. For additional information, consult experts such as Thierry Groensteen, Benoit Peeters, or Scott McCloud. They have come up with other words-image categories. McCloud lists seven (Understanding Comics, 153-155; Making Comics, 131-140). Download attachment: 129_text_image

Mix and Match Rows – Comics Handouts for Younger Students

The Background I’ve taught comics classes for various age groups–as young as second grade, up through college level– and without at doubt, the most challenging classes to teach are the ones with the youngest students. Paradoxically, the very love of spontaneous drawing that makes this age group so interested in and enthusiastic about comics, is itself opposed to the laborious, and often painstaking, process of planning and slow, progressive execution that goes into creating professional comics.

Form and Chaos

Everyone stands in front of a 24 x 36 sheet of newsprint taped to the wall. All the students should have compressed charcoal to draw with. Draw a really bad car wreck with your eyes closed. Try to use all the paper space. Of course what you come up with will more than likely be a bunch of unique scribbles, which is the point.

Cartoon Characters Doodled from Memory

Draw quick doodles (5-10 seconds) of cartoon characters from memory. Students call out characters as instructor also draws them on board. Try to do at least 20 characters, more if possible. It’s interesting how students get them, technically speaking, wrong—but also kind of right at the same time.

Intro to Caricature

Before I begin the exercise I show them some examples of caricature. Max Beerbohm is an excellent example for this particular exercise. As I show them, I emphasize the following: Exaggerating particular physical characteristics Simplifying shapes Contrasts Variety in proportions (important!)

Character Exploration Initial Writing Exercise

These writing exercises are designed to draw out hidden and submerged story ideas and to play with spontaneous writing as a tool in creating stories. This was tailored for kids who are largely uninterested in writing in long spurts, so each exercise was kept to five minutes (which was a stretch for some even still). But writings like this could easily be for 20 minutes in good instances. It went like this:

20 Questions for Characters

Physical description: Name: Age: Sex: Ethnicity: Description of features and mannerisms:

Think Before You Ink

When a visual problem is thought through, the execution of the drawing becomes easier. A cartoonist has to figure out what the key components of the image are. If you are asked to draw a French waiter, for example, you need to figure out which lines and forms, what visual shorthand, say “French” and “waiter.”

Silent Gag Cartoon Exercise

Each student is given a cliché scenario for a one panel gag cartoon. Draw a cartoon based on that scenario. You will have 15 minutes. Do not add a caption, but draw it as if a caption already existed. One character (specified by the word “caption”) should have his/her mouth open as if he or she were saying something. Pass it to the student on your right. That student must write 5 captions for the scenario.