Thursday, 7 August 2014

How To Make Awesome Comics is OUT TODAY!

Available in all good bookstores as of today is my new book, HOW TO MAKE AWESOME COMICS! An educational and instructive manual for persons of all ages on every aspect of the comics-making process, with extended ruminations on the nature and origins of creativity plus NUMEROUS fart jokes and a WHOLE PAGE THAT TELLS YOU HOW TO DRAW PENGUINS. Buy it for every child you know, and also for any you don't, and also for yourself. THANK YOU.

Here are some places you can grab a copy:
And if they don't have it, ask them to order it! (ISBN: 978-1-910200-03-2)

And hey, parents, librarians, teachers and readers all: you can download printable versions of all the activities in the book, and many other worksheets and fun comics-based activities besides, from here:

Let the drawing-filled summer holidays commence!

Seeing as I'm here, here are a few ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS! Look, it's my blog, I'm allowed to go on a bit. I'd like to thank the following people, without whom the book would NOT EXIST!

Sarah McIntyre! A tireless force for spreading the comics word, I'd particularly like to thank Sarah because it was she who dragged me along to do my first school visit - something that frankly terrified me, but I figured if things got hairy I could at least throw Sarah to the feral children and make my escape while she fought them off. ANYWAY, as it turned out, it was actually completely amazing, and kind of ended up changing my whole approach to comics and my career; a huge amount of this book comes out of ideas I've developed in my workshops, seeing first hand the excitement and creativity that comics generate with kids.

(Sarah McIntyre, seen here HATLESS AND IN FIGHTING MOOD.)

Ben Sharpe! Our original editor on the Phoenix, who commissioned Professor Panels and Art Monkey in the first place and was utterly invaluable in figuring out the tone and approach for the strip. I think without Ben's steady hand I'd have gone a lot more sarcastic and facetious and generally it wouldn't actually have worked nearly as well for the actual intended audience. 

Paul Duffield! who worked with me tirelessly on the design and layout of the book, putting in efforts above and beyond the call of duty when he really could have been off drawing mind-bogglingly amazing comics instead. (Paul's fingerprints are all over the finished book, and it looks *beautiful* as a result. He even drew the pencil shavings on the cover!)

And of course, all Ficklings everywhere but most particularly of all David Fickling, who I could thank here for a solid hour for all he's done for publishing in this country, for comics, and for me personally. And it would still not be enough.

(The man himself, photo courtesy Jo Cotterill)

Is that enough self-indulgent gushing now? I think it probably is. PLEASE BUY MY BOOK?

And hey look! Some OTHER awesome comics out today: Gary's Garden by Gary Northfield and Long Gone Don by the Etherington Brothers - spectacularly, embarassingly talented fellow all. That is quite the library of AMAZING COMICS FOR CHILDREN starting to build up, right?

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Awesome Comics: MADE

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. 

There's some genuinely hilarious stuff in there; we're just looking into the logistics of it all and then we might put some of it up online, because frankly it DESERVES TO BE READ.

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?