Welcome to “How To Make A Comic About Anything: The Low Budget Version”!
This deep dive course was designed to be a sped-up version of the full six week course “How To Make A Comic Book” – a massive open online course created in conjunction with High Tech High Graduate School of Education, MakingComics.com and Coursera. The course was originally designed to be High Tech High’s first online project-based learning experience and is targeted to adults and teenages (13+). The course has been wildly successful and has reached over 14,000 registered students worldwide since its release in February 2016.
The hopes for this deep dive is that it will give participants a rough overview of the six week experience and allow them to take the six week course, modify, and use it in classrooms after the deep dive experience has concluded. This course was modified from a project designed by Patrick Yurick and Kay Flewelling for Buck Institute’s PBLU.org called “The Comic Relief Project” – which is basically the same six week course with added Common Core aligned humanities integration.
To find out more about both projects that this deep dive was designed from read this “Story Behind The Course” article. There will also be links included in the “Further Resources” area at the bottom of this website.
Project participants will work as individuals using paper, pencil, pens, rulers, and supplied worksheets to create a single page of comic artwork using techniques that mirror skills used by practicing industry professionals.
If there is one thing that you get from this course regarding materials, know this: You can create a comic with ANY materials. (Take my arm tattoo comic strip as an example). The materials listed here are not sacrosanct, they are just a starting point designed based on what seems resonable based on the average classroom teacher’s budget and familiarity.
From my perspective, having used this project with several teachers in classrooms worldwide, the most challenging aspect of the entire experience is assembling the final comic for your class. No students in this project need to have access to a computer at any time as long as a teacher is able to scan and assemble the final book. This will be covered later. The biggest thing is that, on a basic level, comics can be created with anything. Experiment. Play. New ways to create comics are formed every day – there is no RIGHT way to make a comic.
That being said, the following materials are a great baseline to start with and will allow you to start creating comics and follow along with the provided course tutorials and rubrics.
Student Materials List
- Pencils – Ticonderoga ($22.33)
- Inking Pens – Choice Between:
- Standard Copy Paper
- Rulers – 2-1 ration of 12 inch Cork-Back Rulers ($34.20)
- Erasers – Classroom Kneadable Erasers (11.98)
Digital Access To (For Students)
- Course Rubrics – I would suggest modifying these as you see neccesary for your students
- Tutorials – These REALLY work well as long as you do not modify the worksheets
- Comic Models – The “Protest Rap” Comic included was created with only the materials listed above.
- Course Videos – Feel free to remix and use as you see fit.
Teacher Materials Needed
- Copier/Printer Access
- Computer with access to one of the following pieces of software:
Instead of using a prompt like “What color do you feel like today and why”, as directed in the standard daily greeting exercise prompt, we will be asking the question:
What is a moment from your life that has defined who you are today?
Moments, for the sake of clarity, are times where something has happened meaning it has a beginning, middle, and end to it.
- Example: When I was 8 years old my grandfather was observing me using my hands to act out a scene from a cartoon I was writing in my head while I was on the plane with him going to the Cayman Islands. He told me that he loved that I was able to imagine stories and that he hoped that I would never forget to make time to daydream because up until he had been watching me do it on the plane he had forgotten that when he was my age he also used to daydream. This stuck with me as a reminder to never forget to daydream, especially as I grow older.
10 Minute Brainstorming Sprint
You have ten minutes, just using a pencil and paper, to create a comic that uses images only to tell the story of your defining moment you came up with in the greeting protocol. There is no limit on length except that you need to be able to finish the comic by the end of the ten minutes and that you cannot use words.
- We are going to tape every-person’s finish sprint comics to the wall
- Spend 5 minutes trying to look at every person’s comic silently – make sure each student looks at each piece.
- As a group we are going to look for inspirations. Once the five minutes is up, gather as a class in front of all the pieces. We are going to share one thing that inspires us from the pieces we’ve seen.
- One person speaks at a time
- You can only speak once
- You can only talk about what inspired you about a piece, no negative commentary allowed.
- Go until every person has shared
- Go until each piece has had something recognized in it as inspirational
- You can also do this exercise in small groups using a modified version of this collaborative critique protocol.
Additional Resources on Brainstorming (Optional)
Complete the scriptwriting worksheet using the scriptwriting tutorial for a single page comic. Note that the resources may indicate and reference a four page comic. For this deep dive we are only doing one of the four.
Requirements For A Finished Script
- Must have a beginning middle and end
- Must use at least one word bubble
- Must include at least one sound effect
Additional Scriptwriting Resources (Optional)
- (G) “Taste vs. Ability” by Mark Luetke
- (G) “Get Started Already!” by Mark Luetke
- (PG) “Ramblings On How I Write Comics” by Jim Zub
- (PG) “How To Write A Comic Script” by Todd Tevlin
- (PG) “Starting A Story With Conflict” by Patrick Yurick
- (PG-13) Gutter Talk Interview with Jim Zub
- (PG) “Scripting Walk-Through” by Blambot.com
Complete the thumbnailing worksheet using the thumbnailing tutorial for a single page comic (just one of the thumbnail sections on the worksheet. Use the other three if you want to try practicing different approaches).
Another reminder that the resources may indicate and reference a four page comic. For this deep dive we are only doing one of the four.
Requirements For A Finished Thumbnails
- Thumbnails show a visual plan for assembling the final comic
- The thumbnails include visual elements that clearly flow from panel to panel
- The thumbnails include visual elements that clearly flow from page to page
- Word bubbles are present in the thumbnails
- Notes are included that indicate the artist’s thought process when solving visual problems in the comic
Additional Thumbnailing Resources (Optional)
MAKING YOUR PAGE
Pencil, letter, and ink your comic page worksheet using the tutorials and materials provided.
Requirements For A Finished Pencils
- Pencils are drawn slowly & methodically
- Pencils are are light and clean
- Pencils are ready for inking
Requirements For A Finished Letters
- Letters are measured out according to tutorial
- Letters are legible
Requirements for Finished Inks
- Inked letters are clear
- Inked art is easy to read
- Inked art has varying line weights
- All inks are completed with attention
- All inks (art and letters) are complete and ready for print
Additional Page-Making Resources (Optional)
Penciling & Lettering Related Readings
Introduction to Penciling & Lettering Assignment
Introduction to Comic Inking
FINISHING YOUR COMIC
Finish your comic page and show it during exhibition.
Requirements For A Finished Comic
- Take a selfie with your final comic page and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Hang your final comic in the exhibition space provided
- Bask in the warm glow of finishing your work on time!
Tips on comic publishing from Mark Waid
Additional Publishing Resources (Optional)
How Books Are Made
ComicEd Section of MakingComics.com
This is a part of the website that is acting as an ongoing resource for comic book educators. Most of the links offered in this are also available there:
- Newsletter sign-up (http://eepurl.com/ccRo7D)
- Newsletter # 1
- Newsletter # 2 – 1 Hour Comic Workshop Curriculum
Resources For Educators
Link to this as a live document you can contribute to: (https://goo.gl/SFi6FX)
Graphic Novel Project
How To Make A Comic Book Online Course (ages 13+)
- The course (https://coursera.org/learn/make-comic-books)
- All Comic MOOC Links (https://goo.gl/LuMskD)
- All Course Videos (https://goo.gl/DxwHZk)
- Here are all the course documents in pdf form (https://goo.gl/T6TL6z)
- Here are pictures of students who have completed the course (https://goo.gl/8Z7ttR)
Here are some other activities I’ve used with kids aged 9+
- Character Life History Activity (https://goo.gl/4rjR7J)
- Facial Expressions Activity (https://goo.gl/rmWQyS)
- Name Tag Activity (https://goo.gl/iVsHMs)
- Greeting Protocol (https://goo.gl/nAEn2r)
- Free Draw Instructions (https://goo.gl/9mJPQt)
- Group Drawing Challenge (https://goo.gl/zGCaeC)
- Comic Scripting Activity (https://goo.gl/FTafAs)
- Character Design Challenge (https://goo.gl/HEH7Cb)
- Thumbnailing Activity (https://goo.gl/dSBaAv)
- Thumbnailing Critique (https://goo.gl/G0v4w3)
- Panel Transitions Activity (https://goo.gl/GHk3LB)
- Presenting Your Comic (https://goo.gl/nMXLBi)
- 1 Hour Workshop – How To Make A Comic Page (http://www.makingcomics.com/1hour/)
Comic Relief Project
I’d also suggest taking a look at the “Comic Relief Project” that Kay and I developed a year and a half ago. I actually stripped this project down and redeveloped it for the “How To Make A Comic Book” MOOC. The key differences you’ll see in the two project flows are:
- Comic Relief has a journalistic, humanities angle, to the curriculum (pages 1-28) and
- it was written for teachers to read and use in a class (as opposed to the “How To Make A Comic MOOC” where all the material is written assuming an individual student is looking at it).
This document may be valuable to you for many reasons. On page 39 you’ll see a budget outline – it isn’t etched in stone, but will give you a starting point. Also, this document contains arguments for how the project will live up to Common Core state/national American standards. I’m sure that there is an equivalent wherever you live to this that is probably very different, but having our arguments for the project living up to literacy, art, and history standards will allow you to have a solid defense when asked how the project will connect to learning outcomes for the students.
Comic Relief Project (https://goo.gl/JQ0WLr)
- Digital Coloring for Comics – GIMP Edition
- Digital Coloring for Comics GIMP Edition Part 1
- Digital Coloring for Comics GIMP Edition Part 2
- Digital Coloring for Comics GIMP Edition Part 3
- Making A Tumblr Webcomic