Drawing Words & Writing Pictures: A Review of a Very Useful Book
I'll let you know how it turns out.
Next week (I hope) I plan on beginning a fifteen week comic creating club to be held every Wednesday for the grade 3, 4 and 5 students at my school (I teach grade 3 at a small rural k-5 school). There will be a focused lesson with homework due at the next class, and if they want to be part of the club attendance is mandatory.
The first class will cover the basics - the "building blocks" of comics. We'll cover the terminology (panels, word balloons, splash pages, etc); we'll talk about the fact that you don't need to be able to draw well to create comics and comic strips; and we'll take part in a couple of art mini-lessons exploring action and panel layouts. That sounds like a lot for 45 minutes, but it will have to do.
The homework for week 1 is to draw a single panel "depicting a number of actions happening either in sequence or independently."
I didn't make any of this up on my own, however. I am adapting this lesson from a fairly new book called Drawing Words & Writing Pictures by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden . It is a pretty hefty book, manual really, designed to follow a "15-week college semester format" while being easily adapted to a longer or shorter timeframe. The authors recommend that their book be used from beginning to end in order - that this will give the user(s) the full benefit of the knowledge and skills found between its covers, but they also concede that a compressed curriculum might be necessary.
The lessons begin at the basics, as I mentioned above, and move on to making comic strips, penciling, lettering, inking, story structure, character development, etc. It is as comprehensive a comic creating handbook as I have seen.
Drawing Words was not created just for classroom use, but the authors stress the importance of community; especially a regularly meeting face to face community, but there are resources / websites available for creating a virtual online community. Their thinking is that you learn more and usually work harder at assignments when working as part of a group.
In my opinion, a high school teacher could pretty much teach the entire book (in a noon club or in the regular classroom setting if that was possible), and a middle school teacher could adapt most lessons to fit those students. Drawing Words was not written for 7 to 10 year olds, so I will have to do a fair bit of adapting, and I will likely have to skip some lessons, but I believe that I will be able to use much of this book with the kids in my club.
I will likely take more than 15 weeks (if the kids are interested) to get through this book, but it will be well worth it and I know that Drawing Words & Writing Pictures will improve the comic creating workshops that I occasionally give through my school district and through the local library system.
This review is a lot shorter than I thought it was going to be when I started, but what I said at the outset is true: I will let you know how it goes - I will keep you updated on how it is going with my kids.I sure hope some sign up!
Contents on links on the Internet change continuously. It is advisable that teachers and parents preview all links before recommending them to children.
Administrator / Creator of this website: Scott Tingley firstname.lastname@example.org
Comics in the Classroom, (C) Scott Tingley 2005-2008 All rights reserved.
All articles are (c) by their respective authors and used here by permission, unless otherwise noted.