Insights from a Comic Creator

Comic Artist

I support comic artists Stuart McMillen via Patreon because I find his work to be so insightful. And since I learn from him, I want to help him with crowdsource funding, so he can keep doing what he is passionate about doing.

The quote above comes from the video down below, and I found it interesting, this observation of how he makes sense of the world.

Check out his “I Used to Be Racist” as one example of the kind of work he is doing. Or “Defending Dumbphones.” All of his pieces will make you think. He also shares insights from time to time about his art.

The short video down below for his Patreon site shows him talking about a typical day in his life, as a working comic creator making sense of the world through the visual medium. That behind-scenes stuff always fascinates me.

You can find more about him at his Patreon site. Or at his comic site.

Peace (in frames),
Kevin

Final Reflections: Networked Narratives from Out Here in the Wild Open

Netnarr Daily Alchemy Playlist

The second iteration of Networked Narratives has been over for at least a few weeks now, and I’ve had a version of this reflection sort of sitting here in my blog draft bin.

I’ve watched Alan Levine, one of the instructors, post his reflection yesterday from a teacher perspective (which was insightful to peruse). I’ve read through and enjoyed Wendy Taleo‘s reflection and presentation she gave about a project in Networked Narratives that we launched. I’ve skimmed through some of the final posts by the university students who took NetNarr for credit at their university.

What I continue to find intriguing is the open invitation by Alan and Mia Zamora for anyone to follow NetNarr and participate, and so I and some others (like Wendy and Sarah Honeychurch) have done so. We’ve come and gone, as we pleased. Added to conversations. Commented on blogs. Disappeared from time to time. Re-appeared suddenly. Engaged. Created. Made. Remixed.

Being out here in the Wild Open, as I often refer to it, has its advantages (we can engage where our curiosity is piqued and ignore the rest) and disadvantages (we aren’t always part of the larger conversation that comes from being in the class at the university, and seem to be invisible at times).

Here, in this NetNarr reflection, I want to share out a few projects that I took on that formed my framework of interaction, or at least, the hope for interaction. One of the three was more successful in this than the other two, but the other two were meaningful to me anyway.

First, when Mia and Alan announced this second round of Networked Narratives with the theme of Digital Life, I was interested. I had had fun with the first round of NetNarr a year ago, and figured, I’ll just see what they’re up to this time. I decided to bring a comic strip character out of hiding, and wanted to weave a story about Arganee –the fictional world of the first NetNarr — and digital alchemy, a theme of inquiry for NetNarr.

So, I wrote a story about Horse, the companion to The Internet Kid, and left the Kid at home. I remember being obsessed with telling this story in comics, and working very diligently on the storyline. I released the comic story, one comic at time, into the NetNarr hashtag, and then bundled the entire thing up into a graphic story adventure.

Made with Padlet

I really enjoyed this Horse with No Name comic project, but I got almost no response from the NetNarr students or participants (Wendy and I did a little exchange now and then), and I wonder if those students even knew that the Horse story was always part of NetNarr. Or if they just thought some weirdo was releasing comics into their midst.

That would be me.

Second, I also tried to do the Daily Arganee prompts, every single day. My aim was to come at each prompt from a slant, and to be as poetic as I could. I used the app called Legend for its animated text and visual image feature, but its text limits forced me to edit and narrow the poems to their core. Some were more successful than others. This YouTube Playlist gathers up six small collections I made throughout the three months of NetNarr.

Again, there was very little reaction to any of the poems, although I did them mostly for myself, and the challenge of writing small pieces on an angle from a prompt.

Third, there is the Digital Alchemy Lab project, an adventure that began with a desire to weave the concept of transmedia storytelling (which didn’t really take root the way I envisioned, mainly because I could not envision how it would take root), collaboration with other Wild Open participants (and university students), and the theme of “every object tells a story.”

Alchemy Lab unofficial object tally

Over the course of weeks, a group of us planned out how to invite collaborators to use media to tell stories of assigned objects, which were then woven into the Alchemy Lab — an immersive 360 degree art project using ThingLink. This project took the most time and coordination, and the result is something magical — a collaborative art piece that weaves story and media together in a fun way, showcasing how people can come together to create and make and learn. I wrote three long reflective pieces just about the Alchemy Lab endeavor.

This project continues, in a way, as we share out individual pieces each, with an invite into the lab. Yes, you are invited, too. Come on in. The narrative is networked.

Finally, I want to share a project that had on the surface seemingly nothing to do with Networked Narratives, and yet … it did, in my mind at least. It is a music collaboration project called A Whale’s Lantern, in which online music collaborators from all over the world work on writing and producing a song, which then becomes part of a larger “album” of music.

The reason I include this here in the NetNarr reflection is that I saw/see A Whale’s Lantern project as part of the larger aims of Networked Narratives — of finding ways to connect people from around the world with media creation (in this case, music) as connector points for collaboration, using the Internet as a way to publish and interact in a meaningful, authentic way. It didn’t matter that this took place off Mastodon as opposed to Twitter, or that I was the only one making the NetNarr connections (although Wendy may have seen that connection, too, as she dipped her toes into the music collaboration).

The point is that the very things that we all looked at in NetNarr around the positive elements of our Digital Lives — of following your passions and engaging in virtual strangers with similar passions to create something unique, together, with technology and media — played out beautifully here, overlapping at the same time I was engaged in NetNarr.

We weave the threads.

And, to make the connection even clearer, the lyrics I wrote for my collaboration with my partner, Luka, was inspired by Networked Narratives itself and the idea of digital alchemy. The song is called Alchemist Dream, and you can find the lyrics here. How’s that for synergy?

Thank you, Mia and Alan, for at least trying to find way to fuse classroom experiences at the university level with the open learning networks beyond the classroom walls. I still wish there were more ways to interact among the two groups — the Wild Open and the classroom — but realize the logistics would be difficult to navigate and the demands of running a university course are different from facilitating an open learning adventure.

Still … imagine the possibilities.

Peace (reflects wel),
Kevin

Tell Your Students: Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day

Did you know? Tomorrow (the first Saturday in May) is Free Comic Book Day? Do your students know? Many book stores take part in this event, which has become huge in my little city where a place called Modern Myths gets packed with people. My son and I will probably be there, too.

The Free Comic Book Day website has a store tracker, where you can find a business near you (maybe) that is giving away their free comics (note: these are more like short collections and teasers by the comic distribution company but they are still pretty neat.)

I usually grab some for my classroom, and use them during the year for mini-lessons around figurative language and hero’s journey themes, etc. Not all the comics work for the classroom, but I have a pretty decent collection now.

And

Peace (between panels),
Kevin

#NetNarr Comic Strip Story: The Return to Arganee

 

Horse with No Name

For the start of Networked Narratives, I decided to send one of my comic strip characters on an adventure through the fictional world of Arganee. So Horse with No Name (I left The Internet Kid at home) set forth and met some strange creatures — bots and dogs and alchemists —  and went on a Quest. I had fun making the comics, which I did in a just a few days in a burst of storytelling and then released them somewhat daily into the NetNarr stream over two weeks time.

I often wondered what the NetNarr students in the two University classrooms were thinking, if they even caught the comics. They were just starting class, and maybe barely wandering into the hashtag.

You can read it as a PDF with this link.

Another option is a Padlet that I set up, with all of the comics in order.

Made with Padlet

Peace (making comics),
Kevin

Comic: Every Day is a Storm

Comic: So Long 2017

I used a rage comic maker to create this comic on New Year’s Eve, and then I sort of forgot about it until now. It’s not too late to hope for a quieter and calmer year, is it? It may be a fantasy, given the political tides, but still …

Peace (to ya),
Kevin

Blogging Break: Webcomic Interlude8

As part of a reflective ‘digital audit’ for CLMOOC’s Pop-Up Make Cycle this month, I am taking a break from daily blogging. Instead of writing posts here, I am going to be writing postcards to CLMOOC friends as part of our ongoing postcard exchange. In place of daily writing, I have scheduled a series of comics that I made, and shared on Twitter, about digital detox, with the Doc.

DocDigitalDetox9

Peace (stay calm and power down),
Kevin

Blogging Break: Webcomic Interlude7

As part of a reflective ‘digital audit’ for CLMOOC’s Pop-Up Make Cycle this month, I am taking a break from daily blogging. Instead of writing posts here, I am going to be writing postcards to CLMOOC friends as part of our ongoing postcard exchange. In place of daily writing, I have scheduled a series of comics that I made, and shared on Twitter, about digital detox, with the Doc.

DocDigitalDetox7

and

DocDigitalDetox8

Peace (stay calm and power down),
Kevin

Blogging Break: Webcomic Interlude6

DocDigiDetox6

As part of a reflective ‘digital audit’ for CLMOOC’s Pop-Up Make Cycle this month, I am taking a break from daily blogging. Instead of writing posts here, I am going to be writing postcards to CLMOOC friends as part of our ongoing postcard exchange. In place of daily writing, I have scheduled a series of comics that I made, and shared on Twitter, about digital detox, with the Doc.

Peace (stay calm and power down),
Kevin

Blogging Break: Webcomic Interlude5

DocDigiDetox5

As part of a reflective ‘digital audit’ for CLMOOC’s Pop-Up Make Cycle this month, I am taking a break from daily blogging. Instead of writing posts here, I am going to be writing postcards to CLMOOC friends as part of our ongoing postcard exchange. In place of daily writing, I have scheduled a series of comics that I made, and shared on Twitter, about digital detox, with the Doc.

Peace (stay calm and power down),
Kevin