Let’s Talk About Comics

comicsinbedThey’re not just for reading in bed, though, as Charlie Brown often says “happiness is a stack of comics”. If you’re the parent of a reluctant writer, a visual-spatial learner (VSL) or an artsy child, then they might just be the key to unlocking greater learning.

Yesterday, I wrote about all the reasons why you should incorporate drawing into your curriculum. Now, I’m telling you that on top of those benefits, you can teach sequencing, story structure, dialogue and even grammar with very little effort on your part.

How you ask? Well…

makingcunderstandingcIf your child is a teen, you can start by picking up a copy of Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics and its companion, Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets.  The first book explores the art and history of the medium (in other words, how comics work and why we all love them), while the second gets into the meat of making your own. Both are written in a friendly comic style (ironic, no?), and when combined with the printable layouts from Donna Young, will yield fantastic results.

rochelightfootFor the younger crowd, you’ll want to grab a copy of Art for Kids by Art Roche (got to love the guy’s name) and Cartooning for Kids by Marge Lightfoot. Roche’s book is a gentler approach, covering many of the same topics as Making Comics, but less in-depth and more child-friendly.  Work through it first, and then explore the Lightfoot book to pick up additional skills.

Whichever set of instructional texts you choose, you will want to READ as many comics/graphic novels as possible. Locating those that are, shall we say, appropriately tasteful can be a challenge. My top picks are laid out for you in my Amazon list.

If you find that the kids are struggling for ideas, Neil Yamamoto and Ralph Masiello both have books with interesting characters that you can draw. You may also want to refer back to some of the books that I mentioned yesterday.  I especially like the Ed Emberley ones.  You can make up all kinds of stories with his characters, and they are fairly easy to execute on paper.

perspectivegraphicwriteFor teens who would like to go a bit furtherand produce their own graphic novel (long comic), I suggest Rosinsky’s Write Your Own Graphic Novel along with the Perspective for Comic Book Artists text.

You can practice making shorts at Comic Master or layout longer, more original versions, in Word with the help of these tutorials (bottom of the screen). And while you’re online, you might also want to enjoy the Wormworld Saga, which is an online graphic novel that is mildly addicting. Here’s a cool screenshot:


And one more word on the VSL.  If your child is gifted with this learning style, ask them to turn Bible passages, historical events, or even mathematical concepts into short cartoons for better retention. Beyond flash cards or rote learning, the process of creating their own visual stories will etch the information into their brains for the long-term.

In the future, I will feature a two-part article on curriculum and techniques just for the VSL’s in your life. So stay tuned!


NEXT UP-——————–> Non-traditional Math