This Saturday I had the pleasure of presenting a workshop at the Mansfield University Summer Gateway retreat at the Thousand Hills Center. These are students who will be freshmen in the fall. The weekend was about literacy of all kinds. I presented a workshop on comics.
I started by asking them to write down the first ten words they thought of when I said "Comics". Like most people, they thought of words like: funny, short, superheroes, Stan Lee, and so on.
I had brought with me a big tub of comics of all kinds: comics diaries, journalism, graphic narratives, and so many different types. Then we had a discussion about the unexpected discoveries they made about the types of stories comics can tell.
No workshop like this is complete without giving it a try! Everybody tried their hand at making a one page comic strip. My challenge to them was to think of the last thing that happened to them that made them laugh. That is the punchline, now -- what do you have to show us so that we can "get" the joke. How many panels will you have to draw. Students of every conceivable major were there and they were very open-minded and a good sport about it. And, some of them were hi-larious!
This comic is my visual interpretation of some passages from The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. Occasionally, you see yourself in someone else's story, and these are the images I see when I read these words.
Comics is an art form that anyone can be part of. One of my favorite kind to make are "diary comics." You can make them too! Will you make a lot of money? Will you make the big time? Probably not. So why do I do it? I can capture moments like this. Things I've experienced and cherish and always want to remember. I have it, and my son has it, and will have it forever.
It is art that comes from your life, and you can share it if you want. One of the comics greats said, "Drawing is a medium to communicate with the great family we have not met, the public, the world." (Moebius).
My daughter and I are co-curating a show of original comic art in a gallery setting. We want to
take the viewer "behind the scenes" of the comic book with a display of
original comic art. In an act of extreme generosity,
several collectors are sharing their original pages of Star Wars,
Batman, and other comic books. Local comic creators will also share
their work, as well as some kid comics! Our reception should be a
blast! It will be more like a "mini-comic con" than a typical
reception. We are going to totally nerd it up in an art gallery
setting, with artists making sketches, selling comics and costumed
heroes cavorting around.
I have been participating in a daily sketch challenge called Sketch Dailies. Each day around noon they post the topic for the day -- usually a character from literature or pop culture. Then artists from all over render the character in their own way. I've taken it as a challenge to try to "Walesify" things I probably wouldn't otherwise darw -- and at the same time learn some things from the research I do into the characters. Here are some of the things I've created in response to the various challenges.