Phil Busby from Budding Writers tells us all about the Marple Story Makers and their wonderful comics. Go here to find out more about how the club has been running online during the lockdown.
Name of your Comic Club: Marple Story Makers
Where do you meet and how often? We meet once a week, on Saturday mornings, usually in an upstairs room at our local library. But for the past few weeks we’ve been getting together on Zoom.
Average number of members: 10
How long have you been running? Eight months.
Tell us about your club: Our club is run by husband and wife team, Susie and Phil Busby. (Susie is CEO of The Writers Bureau, Phil’s a writer who originally trained as a psyche nurse then studied theatre and ended up working in community arts). Back in early 2019 we set up a non-profit organisation called Budding Writers to provide creative writing opportunities for young people across the UK, but especially in our own back yard – Marple, Stockport.
One part of this project was the launch of two creative writing clubs on Saturdays in our local library, one for younger children (5-10 years old), the other for teenagers. The younger children’s group is Marple Story Makers, and it’s not just a comic club; we work on all sorts of things – European fairy tales, African folk stories, creating characters, story skeletons, nonsense poetry… But as things have developed, we’ve found ourselves spending more and more time on comics. Many of the group’s children prefer drawing to writing, and particularly if they want to tell longer stories, comic is often their medium of choice.
So, at the moment, we’re working to produce our first club comic – Go Splat! Over the past couple of months we’ve been making up characters, working on 3 panel strips, single page stories; puzzles; illustrated stories; jokes… It’s all been loads of fun, but we’ve still got a way to go.
Which comics should we be reading right now? For younger children – The Phoenix. For older folks, the best thing we’ve come across recently is These Savage Shores by Ram V and Sumit Kumar (Vault Comics)
What are your plans for the coming year? Given the current situation, it’s difficult to plan anything really. We’re very excited about Comic Swap and, at the moment, all our work is going into the creation and production of Go Splat! This will probably keep us going for another 5 – 6 weeks, but once it’s done, we’re not really sure what’s next.
Recently we’ve been involved with a young writers’ competition in our local area, and we’re in the process of publishing an anthology of short stories and poems from the winners of five age groups. This has been really rewarding, so we may try to steer out young Story Makers toward something similar. Some of them have already started posting illustrated stories in our Seesaw classroom, and the sessions we’ve run with them on nonsense poetry have always been loads of fun.
We also run an online Bronze Arts Award, and as soon as lock-down’s over we’re going to get trained up in the Explore and Discovery levels. Once that’s done, we can start working on Arts Award with our younger children.
So, we have several options, all of which could be great for creativity, and highly enjoyable. But whatever we do next, it surely won’t be long before we come back to comics.
Character credits (from top to bottom)
Bird Robin by Evelyn (age 7) Guy 1 & Guy 2 by Maddy (age 7) Mr. Onion & Leakarate by Oliver (age 7) Angel Pig & Devil Pig by Lottie (age 9) Bob the Stick by Sebi (age 8) Sophie by Evelyn (age 7) Dog-Man by Zoe (age 6) Iris by Iris (age 5) Fat Bear by Eve (age 8) Bon-Bon by Evelyn (age 7) Bertie the Dancing Cow and Mr, Pineapple by Bea (age 9) Harold & George by Zoe (age 6)
Thanks so much to Phil for talking to us – we can’t wait to read Go Splat! Check out his post about running an online comics club here.