Now that your students are approaching the final version of their Gag Cartoon, it’s time for some more drawing lessons. Nothing terribly complex, but these simple concepts can make all the difference in the work of a neophyte cartoonist, both in visual appeal and readability.
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.
It happens that there have been several popular blog posts floating around that offer different kinds of advice to cartoonists, students, and creative people of all stripes. Here are links to a few of them in case you missed them on Twitter, Facebook, or wherever else people share things these days!
I just posted a whole bunch of weird and excellent comics done by School of Visual Arts cartooning majors over the last few years in a class of mine where I present them with a series of assignments based on creative rules or constraints.
My students are never artists, are always timid and shy about their drawing abilities, and have very little or no experience with comics (most of my students say they have never even held a comic book before!). But the jam comic lets us jump right into sequential art in a way that promotes creativity and removes the academic pressure of what my students believe they ought to be doing in a college classroom. I like to think of the jam comic as a kind of secret weapon against the stuffiness of academia: I can pull it out at any moment, in any class, and the classroom instantly turns into a place of play and creativity.
A great way to introduce people to the world of comics is to make a “jam comic” —an improvised collaborative comic. In addition to being a relaxed introduction to creating comics, jam comics are a great warm-up activity and icebreaker.
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