This past Fall I started teaching a new comic book workshop at Pico Park Community Center. I had previously taught classes at the nearby Pico Rivera Center for the Arts a few years ago, and decided I wanted to approach Pico Park to try out a new batch of classes.
The Park offered me one of the large showcases in the front lobby to make a display that would spotlight my work and help promote the workshop.
The turnout for the workshop was great, filling up the roster at 12 kids! Not bad at all for the first comic workshop at that facility. Even more impressive to me than the number of kids was their sheer enthusiasm for making comics. Most of the students were about 9-11 years old, with a few as young as 8. Many of the students had already been creating their own comics, sharing with me some of their previous works. There were a couple that had a really strong sense of storytelling, creating their panels with natural progression from one to another, keeping focused on the thread of the story, and picking some creative shots to compose their panels.
'The Thief' by Luke.
I love the title of Jakob's comic, and the addition of the 'or 6' ! Some of the kids even added my name to their covers, which I totally did not expect.
Ivan had asked me if I knew Stan Lee (writer and co-creator of SPIDER-MAN, HULK, X-MEN, THOR etc.), which kind of amazed me to realize the influence and popularity Stan Lee still has with kids. I was Ivan's age over 30 years ago and I was a total fanatic for Stan!
I told Ernando that I thought he was a really imaginative artist and very skilled at making his own comics. What was great was that all the other kids agreed.
Matthew has a strong sense of humor with his work, and even makes his own cartoons on his PSP (which I had no idea existed until he first showed me the one he owned!).
One thing I always try to make sure I offer in my workshops is to give the students a quick overview of storytelling (breaking down their stories into a 4 page comic, keeping the story flowing from panel to panel, etc) with an interactive demonstration. Also, I always want to make sure I give them photocopied versions of their stories. I know it means more to the student to be able to have some actual copies of their stories in their hands, something they can share with their families and friends.
Years ago, when I was a kid, I attended a local 'comic book workshop', expecting to learn about making comics. Well, not only did the instructor not offer any proof of what comics he made, but all he did was sit at the front of the class and told us to draw for a couple of hours! Luckily I had brought a comic book from home, and ended up drawing a picture of Avengers villain Orka!!
Even then, I felt that this man (who I could not find a credit for in any of my comics back home) was not a good teacher. I always promised myself that if I ever taught a class in comics, I would make sure I provided some decent instruction, and even give the kids copies of their books.
In the past, most of the kids I have taught have been around 13 years old. But this group, even at their younger ages, had a pretty good sense of composing their stories with creative choices in their layouts and compositions. It's really inspiring to see their skill levels at this comics creating thing that I love doing. Most already had characters they had created previously, and for the most part they would just proceed to craft their stories. I can see a few of these kids making comics professionally, or working in storyboarding or video games.
For me, the class provided a wealth of experience, mostly being exposed to a lot of creative artists. As a treat for the last session of class, I showed them the first 35 minutes or so of my film EL MUERTO (just enough to make sure they saw my cameo, it turns out!).
One of the mothers was kind enough to bring in homemade cupcakes and juice for the kids. It was really cool to see some of the kids carry on conversations between themselves about GODZILLA movies or the very specific poses the characters from DRAGONBALL Z would do to activate some of their powers. They reminded me of some of the similar conversations me and my friends have! One of the older kids (who goes by the nom de plume of "JB Comic"!) had looked me up online and started asking me about of the events I had done or comics I had created. I had some minor celebrity status going on in that class!
I'm glad to know that I was able to provide these kids with a pretty exciting experience overall, with an introductory instruction on creating comics, but also with a little time for fun.
An impromptu EL MUERTO drawing from Luke. Such a distinctive piece.
My next classes start in January. Class fee is $38, with a $5 supply fee paid directly to me. They're offering a %10 discount if you register by December 15. All classes are 5 week sessions.
Ages 6-12: Class is on Wed., from 5-7 pm, Jan 5 - Feb 2.
Ages 13-18: Class is on Thurs., 5:30-7:30pm, Jan 6 - Feb 3.
Pico Park, 9528 Beverly Boulevard, Pico Rivera, CA.
Look Mom, I'm a HOT PICK!!!