Graphic Novel Review: Adventures in Cartooning – Characters in Action

I really love this book as much as the concept behind it. And I have loved the other books put out in this series from the Center for Cartoon Studies (and published by First Second Publishing). In this newest edition of Adventures in Cartooning, readers not only get a funny story about a knight looking for a king whose kingdom has been taken over by a movie producer, they also get an embedded lesson around developing strong characters (and how to draw them for comics).

The knight on his horse is a recurring character in the series, which includes the first one — How To Turn Your Doodles into Comics — that really does a fine job of looking at the art of making comics. An activity book that came out later allows kids to work right in the book itself. My son loved it.

Characters in Action is a sly bit of teaching, and perfectly aimed at the elementary level of students. By the end of the story (which has a quick pace), you realize that with a few strokes of a pen or a few good descriptor words, you can make characters old or young, brave or fearful, smart or not-so-smart, and more. For young writers who struggle to create original characters, Characters in Action might be another fun resource to put into their hands.

Peace (in the action),
Kevin

Webcomic: Waiting on the Download

The download for XCode took quite some time for me (DSL, wireless, etc.) And at one point, the download got gummed up, so I had to restart my computer and restart the download again. (This time, I used an Ethernet cord, which was much faster). I need the XCode software to keep working on my App Development Adventure project. So, I created this comic ..

The Tweets App Development2

Peace (in the wait),
Kevin

 

The Tweets Take on the MOOC

 

Some time back, I created a series of webcomics about two dudes I called The Tweets. It was inspired by a news story about young people trying to make a living by selling themselves, and their Twitter personas, to companies and politicians for Twitter campaigns. I resurrected the guys as we begin to wind down the official cycles of the Making Learning Connected MOOC. You can view the comic as embedded here or go directly to the comic at Stripgenerator, the site where I made the comic. And heck, while you are there, make your own ….

Peace (in the comic),
Kevin

Reflections via Comics: What They Are Learning

We are midway through our digital literacies workshop with high school students (as part of a larger initiative to target English Language Learners with academic support and enrichment and jobs over the summer) so we had them go into our Webcomic site to write about a few things they have learned so far this summer with us.

We like that students are referencing a range of learning, from creating games to using the Webmaker tools to our vocabulary activities around digital literacy terms.

Halfway Reflection1

Halfway Reflection2

Halfway Reflection3

Peace (in the sharing),
Kevin

 

Making Avatars in a Webcomic Classroom

Holyoke WorkshopComicClassroom
In the summer workshop for high school English Language Learners, we’ve been talking a lot about digital literacy and online identity, particularly about avatars. This concept of representing oneself will come back around as we move into video game design, too, and yesterday, after viewing a fascinating New York Times slideshow that features portraits of people and their avatars, I brought our students up into Bitstrips for Schools.

One of the first tasks in Bitstrips is to create an avatar for use in the site, so it ties in perfectly to what we had been discussing. And the webcomic space is very user-friendly, even for struggling writers. Today, I will give them an overview around how to create a comic in Bitstrips. But as they were working on their avatars, I kept refreshing the homepage of the site, showing how their representations of themselves were populating the “classroom.” They got a kick of that, shouting out to refresh the page.

Take a look at the class picture and you get a sense of the students I am working with this summer. (A few students were absent or are still working, which is why there are some blank spaces).

Peace (in the comic),
Kevin

Maps, Music and Me

We’ve been asked to make a map this week as part of the Making Learning Connected MOOC, and I wonder if people are struggling with the idea. I’ve started any number of maps that seemed like they might be interesting (one was a map of my childhood apartment complex; another is an ongoing attempt to map out some elements of Twitter), but I didn’t get very far. I think I have struggled with how to make the map have deeper levels, to move beyond the literal. This is not part of the assignment, but I felt myself wanting to do that more and more.

So, taking a cue from the concept that mapping can come in many forms, I wondered if I could use the metaphor of music for a way to map out my life, or at least, views on life. Music has long been part of the fabric of myself — from playing music, to writing music, to just plain loving music.

I decided to do it in comic form:
Maps, Music and Me
Peace (in the melody),
Kevin

PS — Joe created this cool playlist about mapping.

 

 

Remixing the Sunday Comics

Yesterday, as I was reading the newspaper on Sunday morning, I had one of those “make epiphanies” that come as a result of being part of the Making Learning Connected MOOC. I had the Sunday Comics in my hand and I began to wonder what it would be like to remix the comics. What if I cut out frames and then put them back together, creating a new narrative? I dove with with scissors and tape, but I have to admit: figuring out how to tell a story with assorted parts from other stories … that was difficult and the thinking took me quite a bit of time.

Here’s what I came up with:
Sunday Comix Remix2

And, in the spirit of the MOOC and the spirit of the comics, I decided to reflect a bit on the experience in the form of a comic:
A Comic Reflection about a Comic Remix

Peace (in the frames),
Kevin

 

Lego Head Toy Hack: Heads Will Roll

The other day, as part of our toy hacking with the Making Learning Connected MOOC, I shared out some images from a project in which I removed the heads of some lego characters and stuck them on a small USB-powered holiday tree, creating a somewhat eerie scene.

That was fun, but I kept returning to the question of: now what? In other words, how does this act of hacking toys connect to writing? This is not just for me, playing around in the MOOC, but for grounding our work into possibilities for classroom activities through the lens of Connected Learning. As we move into the second part of this Make Cycle, we are being asked to reflect on the experience of our play/work this week. For me, that often means stepping back from the jumping and trying to frame what I have done in ways that might translate to the classroom.

What I needed here with the Lego Head tree was to take the next step, to move beyond the cool factor of the photos. I needed to tell a story, to connect the hack to literacy. Why were all those headless bodies reaching out for the tree? Why were heads in the tree? And who was that dude at the top? As I mulled over how I might use the photos to tell a story, I was trying to figure out the best way to do that, too. I realized too late (after I had returned the heads and packed up the tree) that I should have shot a video on Vine. Oh well.

I decided to use Comic Life and create a comic story about the scene. I’ve had Comic Life on computer for some time, and used to use it regularly for my Boolean Squared comic, but it has been a few years (and on a whole different computer), and the program did not work as I wanted it to (more on my week of failure tomorrow). I kept at it, and this is what I came up with:
comic1
comic2
comic3
comic4

Peace (in the hack),
Kevin

 

Making Learning Connected: The FAQ Comic Collection

Over at the Making Learning Connected MOOC (which launches this coming week!), I created a few webcomics to illustration our Frequently Asked Questions page. It was a way to have some fun, but also get information out about what participants might be wondering about. Here is the collection:
FAQ Collection
Come join the adventure by signing up (it’s free!) for the Making Learning Connected MOOC adventure this summer.

Peace (in the frames),
Kevin