Create Comics Workshop!

Sat 7/1/2006

The train ahead of ours going to Vermont was somehow DERAILED, so Aaron and I had to sit on the tracks at Springfield, MA for about 4 hours waiting for some busses to take us the rest of the way to White River Junction. Luckily, it seems like the derailment got all of our bad luck out of the way early on. After our 12 hour trip to The Center For Cartoon Studies, everything else went GREAT!

As you can see above, we had about 20 students, age range from 13 to late 20s from all over the country (and world! with Jim making the trek all the way from the UK). Monday and Tuesday they had done a lot of warm up activities with James Sturm, James Kochalka and Steve Bissette. So Wednesday morning we all headed over to the Charles Schultz Library where Robyn gave an awesome lecture about minicomics and zines. She had pulled out a TON of super amazing examples of minicomics and talked about how they were made and what to think about when making your own minicomics. After her lecture we read some minicomics and then went around the room and each talked about what made our selection cool. Then we did a 1-hour jam comic before lunch.

Then after lunch Aaron lectured about his approach to Comics storytelling and how he made his first graphic novel, Spiral-Bound. He had a bunch of original art up on the wall, which the students seemed to really enjoy and then he went through a bunch of digital "slides" on his site, showcasing some of his full-color illustration work.

Then at 3pm I took over. It was pretty warm and that afternoon time slot is always a hard time for a talk (your body wants to be taking a NAP at 3pm!) So I did my best to keep my energy level high, while talking about self-publishing and PHASE 7. I passed out free copies of Best Zine Ever and The Dvorak Zine along with copies of our previous lecture notes, For the Love of Comics, so after a long day of lectures they at least walked away with some cool stuff!

Thursday was an all-day DRAWING FEST! We really pushed the students hard and they rose to the challenge and turned out some AMAZING work. Here you can see them all sweating it out, drawing their pages of Comics. We did another 1 hour Jam Comic in the morning to get the creative juices flowing and then a 2 hour comics exercise that Aaron invented called "Connect The Plots." Then after lunch we all worked together on a comic called "The Life and Times of Inky Solomon" for THREE HOURS STRAIGHT. There were some sore drawing hands when it was all said and done, and some of the students had nicknamed me "The Taskmaster" but we made it through and no cartoonist was left behind! Every single student completed their two pages of Comics.

That night we had a huge "work party" where we put together the books. It was SO AMAZING! As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the CCS lab is like a self-publishing heaven on earth. They have every single tool you could possibly need to make a mini comic, and we put them ALL to use! It was really great having so many "hands" to work with. I had students reducing original art, while others were doing layout, then others were printing out the book itself! Meanwhile, Aaron was cutting fancy paper down from over-sized sheets, others were trimming those down to proper printing size while Robyn was leading a huge silk-screening demonstration for the covers.

Then when we had all of the guts printed out we made a huge assembly line. Students coallated the sheets and folded them, passed them off to a bone-folder, who then gave them to the "stitchers" who stapled them together, then passed them to the corner-rounder, who then took the books to the stamper, for the official CCS stamp. Making 50 copies of two 20-page minicomics (one of which has a SCREEN-PRINTED cover!) in ONE DAY is a pretty amazing acomplishment, I think.

You can see more pictures of us making the Comics (and lecturing) up on Robyn's Flickr account. (thanks Robyn!)

All in all the trip was totally amazing. I love teaching Comics almost as much as I love drawing Comics. I was utterly EXHAUSTED at the end of each day, but in a good way. James Sturm said at dinner one night, "It'll be interesting to see how you will have to change your pace when you teach your first semester-long course" :) I can't thank CCS enough for inviting Aaron and I up to teach some workshops. I hope that I'll get to come up again some time during the year. The Center for Cartoon studies is really coming into its own and the 2nd year is shaping up to be even better than the 1st!

Comics! WOO!!!!

9 comments on this entry

Are you wearing a Webelos hat in that first picture? You look like a scout leader. Tell me more about "collect the plots", I want to play.

Greg Jul01

This was an intense week, but so rewarding. I can't say enough about how amazing these students were. They have the love for comics, and they're hard workers too. I couldn't have asked for a better group.
The best part was the comics work party. It just warmed my heart to see them going to work, building their books. Plus it was so much fun. And I taught 2 people how to screen print in about a half an hour!
Thank you Aaron and Alec! We couldn't have done it without you.

robyn Jul01

I couldn't agree more Robyn, the workshop students were STELLAR!

Greg - I got a WOLF Scout hat and Aaron got a BEAR Scout hat. Only $10 at the White River Junction Boy Scouts headquarters! (across the street from CCS)

I am planning on putting up a post about the "Connect The Plots" process on the National Association of Comics Art Educators message board so that other groups can try it. But it might take a while as my internet access is still minimal at this point... I'll post a link once it's up!

Alec Jul02

Sounds wonderful! I'd yet to hear from anyone much about the college, but it looks and sounds wonderful. I'm very impressed with their facilities. It sounds like they already rival SVA, and might even be *gasp! dare I betray my school and say it?* BETTER EQUIPPED in some ways!

You and Aaron both look like little kids checking out the view at thirty thousand feet from Santa's sleigh.

Matt Jul03

I just wanted to say that ccs was amazing. Everyone that works there is so welcoming and good, they're excited about the potential of comics, and from what I've seen, will be very very good for it's future. I can't wait to go back up...

Aaron Jul04

Excellent workshop (as were the History of comics and Comics for educators ones) - you made us sit down and work!
I've been using Connect the Plots in the comics stuff I've been running in schools, and it's such a great way of generating a whole comic collaboratively in such a short amount of time - well done that man!

JIM! Good to hear from you :) That's so awesome to hear you have been using "Connect the Plot." Aaron and I also used it earlier this year to great success. It will definitely be a part of our workshop again this summer! I hope all is well with you in the UK!

Alec Jun11

hi i was intersting about what ur donig and iam wondring within i can share u ur moment i come from a country where they dont courage these workshops and the comic art any way i hope that u help me 2 become amember ov ur community >>>>>>iam comics art and a cartoon artist with animating and sketching skills

soscaller Oct07

Soscaller - Well, if you have access to the internet, it is pretty easy to get involved with the comics community! My suggestion would be setting up a LiveJournal account. You can post your comics there (you can host images for free, using Flickr ) and then try and make friends with other cartoonists you admire by commenting on their work and "friending" them. That way people can easily see some of your work.

Also, check out Comicspace!

There are lots of other resources out there online for cartoonist, so just dig around. Good luck!

Alec Oct07

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