Friday 1 March 2013

The Kids Comics, what's so difficult?

I have a week-long spree of Comic Art Masterclasses coming up at schools in Yorkshire, in each of which I'll teach kids how to write and draw comics and, by a morning or afternoon, they'll go away with a comic a bit like these (click to enlarge)...

Producing these mini-gems has become very much my trademark and I'm a dab hand at rattling them off on the photocopier. As long as I'm let loose on an average school copier, one with a sheet-feeder on the top and the usual functions, I can produce a copy of the comic for everyone in the class in about ten minutes.

However every now and again I'll find a school whose reprographics or office person won't allow anyone to touch their photocopiers and insists on doing everything themselves, despite my protests that it'll be so much easier if they let me do it. How hard can it be, they ask? And it's a good question.

Because all I need to do, having got every child in the class to produce their comic strip in pencil and ink on an A4 sheet of paper, is take their artwork, along with the A4 caricatures I've done of all of their faces and the A3 front cover artwork, the title of which they've come up with together and then I've designed it and they've added a drawing to it, and then assemble them on the copier.

To do this I first reduce the A3 cover to A4, then use the multiple-up setting (which an astonishing number of secretaries and reprographics people don't know exists) to reduce the faces down to 8-to-a-page then down again so I have 16 faces to an A4 sheet (as long as the class stays within my maximum size of 30 pupils, this means I end up with two pages of caricatures, even including the teachers. If, however, we've gone over the 30-pupil mark, this will involve some further re-calculation).

Then I do the same with the pupils comic strip pages, reducing those to 8 to each A4 landscape spread, using their individual drawings of characters to fill up remaining space if the class is under a certain size, and reducing those down smaller and squeezing in whichever will fit if the class is over a certain size. Then I use one page of caricatures as the back page, one as the inside back, and a montage of leftover work as the inside front page, and collect those up into A4 spreads which I copy back to back, using the duplex setting, giving as an A5 folded comic comprising 3 sheets or 12 pages, whichever way you look at it. One of those for each of the pupils, and one for the teacher, and one for me, bish bash bosh. A fast enough copier and that's ten minutes work.

Mysteriously, no-one else in the office has ever managed to do it themselves. In one school they took all the components away and returned an hour later defeated and confused (they hadn't found the multiple-up button in all that time, bless their cotton socks), eventually let me do it myself and, of course, it took 10 minutes as per. For future reference, trust me everyone, I've done this before.

There's a whole archive of my kids' Comic Art Masterclass comics on my website, including these choice examples and many more...

Bazinga! - Feb 2013
Aquatic Owls vs The Moon - Dec 2012
The Hairy Bottom - July 2012
Kid Afro Spaghetti - June 2012
Fartimouse Owl - May 2012
I ❤ Gingers - May 2012
Help I'm A Superhero Get Me Out Of Here - April 2012

If anyone wants me to come and show their kids how to do what I've been doing for a living for the last two decades in my patent Comic Art Masterclasses, drop me a line, a comment, a Twitter, smoke signals, the usual methods. Click below to see more, including video and contact details.

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