Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sketching Comics for Children's Stories

One of my nephews, a college student, studies children's and young adult literature.  During a family vacation recently he proposed an idea:  let's listen to an audio version of some super short stories meant for kids and while we listen, draw comics versions of them, as fast as we could.

That sounded like a whole lot of chaotic creative scribbling fun to me.

He picked a story by Johnathan Rand called "The People of the Trees" from a collection called Creepy Campfire Chillers which you can find here.  And yes, this story was creepy!!

Anyhow, the story lasted only a few minutes, so we were drawing our comics versions at the speed of light!  Even with the painting later, the whole four-page spread took under twenty minutes.

I also chose to do them in that interesting sugar cane paper sketchbook I've written about recently.  I just wanted to see how it would do with speed and lots of small lines.  Plus, I really like the tan color and the odd effects I get from paint.  I felt like it would fit nicely in a scribbly comic about something creepy.

So, here is the comic:

Of course, the original short story packs a creepier punch than this dashed off comic.

Still, I like the comic results.  I mean, I drew this in about 10 minutes while listening to a story I'd never heard before.  I had to pick out the main points, structure the pages, and try to create images that were basic and quick, but recognizable.  As a drawing game, I really enjoyed it.

I liked working on this paper too--though because ink and paint sits on top of it for a long time, I had to be careful about smearing.  You can see in a few spots where that happened.  But, what the heck.  Just a scribbled exercise after all.

However, I have to share one of the unexpected wonderfulnesses of this little game.  When we finished our drawings, my nephew and I compared.  And what a fascinating thing to see how different our comics were from each other!  Not only because as different artists we, of course, had different styles.  But because we selected very different things to include in our quickly captured versions of the story, and structured our "camera" views so differently.  It led to an interesting conversation about all of that.

I think this would make a great exercise to do with children--young or old.  It focuses your brain because you have to pay attention in order to draw.  It challenges reading comprehension.  It forces you to listen and then translate what you've comprehended from the spoken word back out into a visual representation.  And then after the drawing is done, you can compare and celebrate the differences in what people heard and captured.

Really interesting thing to try!

No comments:

Post a Comment