So after spending yesterday helping my students struggle with their nascent, shaky ideas, revising, reworking and shaping them according to the fundamentals that make gag cartoons work, what do I do? Introduce Anti-Gag Cartoons of course! Keep ‘em off balance, that’s what I say!
Early in Mastering Comics, Jessica Abel and Matt Madden discuss ‘the Horror of the Blank Page’ (Chapter 2). Every artist who has ever put pen to paper has felt it, and likely some of your students will be feeling it now.
I am a firm believer in exploring the rich history of the cartooning medium; not only for its own illustrious sake, but as a fount of inspiration for my students’ work. (I also admit that I love teaching it. Windsor McCay, Siegel and Shuster, The Fleischer Bros., why wouldn’t you teach it?)
As you know, cartooning is primarily about storytelling. However, for some students a big motivation for taking the class is to learn how to draw. But, as any artist knows, the best way to learn how to draw is simply to do it. Over and over again.
The second day will be about them getting to know each other. I like to have the class play a game called The Exquisite Corpse. Originally conceived by Andre Breton and the Surrealists, the game encourages group creativity through random chance (in my experience, kids love all things random).
We inaugurate a fantastic new series by Derek Mainhart, who is setting out to write up an entire year’s curriculum for a comics class at the secondary level: middle school and high school. From what I’ve seen so far, it’s going to be entertaining, well-planned, and incredibly useful.
I’m an art teacher from Long Island who specializes in teaching cartooning. Every summer for the past six years, I’ve had the good fortune to teach an intensive cartooning course at an institution dedicated to the visual and performing arts. Increasingly, I’ve been incorporating some of the approaches outlined in Drawing Words & Writing Pictures.
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