Use these projects to kickstart comics creation in your classroom!
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 >>
- 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.
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:
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):