I recently spent the week doing something new; teaching a weeklong course at the Story Museum in Oxford, that venerable institution (it's only been there a little while but it is PRETTY VENERABLE) where I am currently cartoonist-in-residence. The course was titled Make Awesome Comics; it was for kids aged 7-12, and the idea was to try and give them a bit of an introduction to all aspects of making comics; from coming up with ideas to writing stories to drawing and lettering - featuring lessons along the way from Guest Lecturers and International Comics Superstars Kate Brown and Gary Northfield - all the way through to printing and self-publishing their own comic by the end of the week.
And we did! And I am now exhausted.
Our classroom! I had a CLASSROOM.
Some recommended reading materials.
Those kids like The Phoenix. Those kids liked the Phoenix A LOT.
It was hard work, but also a preposterous amount of fun, and I learned a lot from the whole experience. I'm still processing a lot of it, but I had to boil it down into a few key lessons - and I guess I knew these already, but this really hammered them home - it'd be:
- that the imagination and creativity of children is endlessly potent, amazing and hilarious
- that comics are an incredibly effective way of allowing kids to harness, express and develop that creativity, and finally
- that whatever we as a society are paying teachers to deal with those
monsters**charming little scamps** on a daily basis, it is NOT ENOUGH.
I jest! They were a lovely bunch. And they really did come out with some great stuff. TO WIT:
One of the most amazing parts for me was how the entire class knuckled down when it was time to Actually Make The Thing, writing and drawing and entire 32-page comic in a single day. And here it is, their comic that they made... THE AWESOMEST COMIC!
I helped a bit, putting it all together and getting it print-ready, but it's 100% all their own work.
Anyway, yeah. Ludicrously hard work at times, but the moment we had at the end of the week when we held a little 'graduation ceremony' and they all got to come up and get a certficate and a copy of their comic that they made, handed to them by David Fickling... that was pretty great, and it felt like a great way to bring the book into the world.
Here are some photos from the party! (There's loads more, and an exclusive preview of the book, over on the David Fickling Books blog!)
Addressing the troops! (Photo: Diane Cameron)
L-R: David Fickling, the incredible Kate Sayer from the Story Museum who was invaluable all week and without whose assistance I think I may have ACTUALLY DIED, The Awesomest Comic, me. (Photo by Diane Cameron)
Me, demonstrating my powers of EXTREME SHININESS to my class (photo by Susie Day)
The brilliant Susie Day and Sally Nicholls and OH WHAT'S THAT THEY'VE GOT THERE? (Photo by Jo Cotterill)
David Fickling, awesome book. (Photo by Jo Cotterill)
Oh, my new book? My new book, which comes out tomorrow? DID I NOT MENTION THAT I HAVE A BOOK COMING OUT TOMORROW?