Comics Project #3: Comics Investigation

Comics Project Outlines

Use these projects to kickstart comics creation in your classroom!

DEMO PROJECT:

“Magnet Migrants: Forces of Nature” Mini-Comic

I’ll use this mini (drawn during a 2021 Children’s Literacy Foundation school residency) as a work sample throughout the sequence below.

For a full outline of my working process (including thumbnails, pencil drafts, & conference sessions) see my Patreon HERE >>

PROJECT SEQUENCE: prep | p.2-3 | p.4-5 | p.6-7+

PREPARATION:

  • Define your topic(s)
  • Assemble basic research resources (books, websites, media, &c.)
  • Artists may benefit from a prep session with a KWL chart or similar non-comics graphic organizer.

SET UP A BLANK 1-SHEET MINI:

This 8-page mini-comics format provides a perfect structure for a small, self-contained comics research investigation.

PAGES 2-3: Framing a central question (DAY 1)

I usually skip drawing the Outside Front Cover of my mini until after I’ve drawn all the other pages.

That means we can open up the book & start drawing on pages 2-3.

EXAMPLE: I’ll use these pages as a 2p. spread, stretching my central question (“How do birds migrate long distances?”) across a wide setting:

Penciled:

Inked:

Clearly my QUESTION comes from some basic familiarity with the topic of bird migration — specifically my work at a conference on Bicknell’s Thrush, my viewing of the film “Winged Migration,” & some of my students’ own work & questions.

P.4-5: Research + Drawing Context (DAY 2)

  • Set a clear schedule for researching & collecting information.
  • Graphic organizers & note-taking may be useful…
  • OR you can direct artists to use their penciled mini-comic as the record of their research.
  • SUGGESTION: Artists can document their sources by listing them on page 8 (Outside Back Cover) of their mini.

EXAMPLE: After some quick research on magnetoreception & the Earth’s magnetic field, my central 2p. spread (p.4-5) shows birds migrating around the earth in space… That’s the context of my question; the next pages will begin to answer HOW they do this!

P.6-7: Show Facts… & Answer Your Question? (DAY 3)

  • Don’t try to include EVERY fact you find in your research — This is a mini-comic, not a graphic novel! Prioritize the most interesting facts that help answer (or refine) your central question.
  • You may want to use these 2 pages to deliver info about 2 separate subtopics or facts.
  • You can divide each page into 2-3 panels to deliver your facts piece by piece.
  • Use the F.A.S.T. toolbox to ensure visual variety!
  • Don’t worry if you don’t have a clear answer to your original question — My goals here are always to learn about the topic, AND to formulate new questions!

EXAMPLE: If you look closely at these pages, you can see the patches where I rewrote & redrew parts of text & images. This reflects my conferencing, editing, & RE-researching steps!

Now I’ll draw a back cover (single panel, note to reader, bibliography, &c.) and a front cover (title + image + author name):

Full “Magnet Migrants” process notes, source links, & printables @ the Patreon >>

More Demo CURRICULUM COMICS | SET UP a COMICS WORKSHOP

Published by Marek

Cartoonist, musician, teacher.

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