Friday, August 10, 2012

Kids artwork from my comic book workshops

For the last couple of years I've been teaching art classes at Pico Park in Pico Rivera, CA. On Wednesdays I have my Comic Book Workshop and Thursdays it's my Cartooning for Kids class. The comic class runs 5 weeks, and the cartooning class is 4 weeks. Usually I'll have about 2 sessions of each workshop every season, so that's about 16 classes a year at that facility. 

The current comic book workshop ended on Wednesday. Here are some samples of the comics created:

The one above (Moustache Man & Goatee Guy) is by Matt, who's been taking the class for about 2 years now! His parents are really supportive, and Matt's imagination is pretty active. It's really great to see a young artist with such creative ability.

There's always a mix of returning students and new ones, and on average about 30% will be girls, and sometimes almost half. The skill levels vary of course, but the important thing is that all the kids have a desire to tell a story.  Put the paper and pencil in front of the child and they'll think for a second then start drawing the first panel and soon they work out their whole story. I'm still amazed at the innate human desire to tell stories, especially to tell it through words and pictures. And because their stories aren't very dialogue heavy, it's the art of storytelling by picture that shines through. A long and well-loved tradition...

What I do in my class is take the kids through a group storytelling session, where I draw a one-page comic on a wipe board with them providing me the idea for each panel. The main thing I stress to them is that each panel has to progress from the previous panel, no matter how wacky the scenario, because our goal is to tell a story.

One thing I do is that at the end of the fourth week, I collect each student's artwork (3 pages of comics and one cover), then over the weekend I'll make photocopies and on the last class, give each student 3 copies of their printed comic book (an 11x17 paper, printed on both sides & folded in half). While it's a little extra work, I feel it really gives the kids a sense of having created a comic book, not just producing the art for one. 

Once in a while, for the 5th and final class, I'll ask a cartoonist friend of mine to visit the class and talk with the kids about their work or do a project. Once, my friend Ted visited and led the kids into creating a giant comic called ZOMBPOCALYPSE, where two kids at time would draw and color a page of the comic. That was really fun.

In the current class, Jacob, a first time student, created this comic:

He even had time to knock out this 32 panel comic on a sheet of 8.5" x 11" paper:

It was nice to hear him narrate the story while I looked over the page. The blue energy ball generated by the human character was inspired by DRAGON BALL Z, a cartoon that plenty of my students over the years have claimed as a favorite.

Jacob actually gave me that comic, as well as this drawing:

A sunny day, a happy superhero and a giant tank... C'mon, what's not to love about that?!

My next round of classes at Pico Park start up at the end of August. Check out my Comics Workshop page for more info on my classes.  And if you're a librarian, I also do library visits where I conduct comic book workshops as well. Please check out that page as well for my contact info.


Hector Rodriguez said...

What an amazing group of talented kids! They will always cherish the time spent creating stories with you Javi.

Javier Hernandez said...

Thanks, Hector. I always enjoy the works the students come up with. Great to see young minds creating!