Creating Comics Teen Workshop Recap

So last week I taught weeklong comics workshop for teens over at OCAC. I was a little nervous going in for a couple of reasons: First of all, we had to cover the same amount of material that I did in the class I taught in spring in the same amount of hours, but with a compressed schedule. And then second, they were high schoolers, and I was afraid they would eat me alive. These issues turned out to be minor details, and the class turned out really well and I was super-stoked for the work that was produced.

Anyhow, after the cut is a detailed recap of the week, along with a selection of work that the students produced.

The class had 8 students in it, and right off the bat, something that I will say they were really, really good at and I was really impressed by was that everyone was constantly drawing. Anytime there was downtime while we were waiting for me to set up the projector or make handouts or whatever, all of them had their noses in their sketchbook and were drawing. Hell, most of them were drawing while I was lecturing and talking, too. It was so great to see them already have that habit because a.] it’s super important and b.] it is something that is really hard to teach.

My goal for the week was to walk them through, step-by-step, every stage of making comics and to give them as many ptions as I could to approach each stage. Because there is no ‘right’ way to make comics, I wanted to treat it like a comics-making buffet. There would be multiple options in front of them, and through experimentation and trying all the options they would be able to find something that would work for them.

The thing that I felt bad about was that I had to front load the class a bit, and so the first two days were mostly lectures and concept and theory. I could tell that it was a little rough for them, and everyone did a good job of staying awake and participating, but the vibe was totally different once we started drawing and working on the comics. They were so dedicated that the last half of the week they didn’t even leave their drafting tables to eat lunch. Most of them just ate while they continued to draw, which was pretty rad to see.

By the end of the week, I wanted everyone to have a finished comic, 1-2 pages, with stories that had a beginning, middle, and end. We voted on a theme in class, which many of them were resistant too, but in the end I thought they all did a great job of doing stories they wanted within those confines. Even though not all of them finished their stories, I was convinced enough of their dedication to finish them outside of the class on their own time and let it slide.

At the end of the class, we threw it all together in a little zine. Here’s a selection of some of the work that stood out.

I’m hoping that some of them stay in touch. A lot of them had a real intuitive knack for it and they were light years ahead of where I was artistically at that age, and I would love to see the comics they make if they keep at it.

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