Club Spotlight Special! Running an online Comic Club


Phil Busby of Budding Writers tell us how the Marple Story Makers have been meeting online during the lockdown – keeping the club going until they can get back to physically meeting up in the library.

Phil told us:

We run our Saturday morning session on Zoom, and this is how it works:

• On Friday afternoons we email our children’s parents with a Zoom meeting link and, if there is one, a pdf of the session’s worksheet (we have a list of which families have a printer at home, for those who don’t, we print the sheets out ourselves and drop them off when we’re doing our shopping).

• At ten to ten on Saturday morning we log in to Zoom. The session doesn’t start till ten-o-clock, but there’s always one or two kids who come online early, so we chat with them as the others join in one by one.

• At our end, we work as a two-person team, with Phil presenting, and Susie managing the tech (a bit like a producer on a radio show); she mutes and unmutes the microphones, controls the screen-sharing, and puts up any images we may want to show. In order to do this, mainly to avoid feedback, we have to set up in different rooms of the house. So Phil leads the workshop from the kitchen, while Susie hosts it from the living room (with the door shut between).

• Each session starts with some simple ice-breakers – Tell us about yourself or show and tell… Then something creative – passing round a mimed object; a rhyming game; passing round a story… We’ve found these games all work perfectly well on Zoom, and it’s great reaching out to pass an invisible thing through the screen, seeing a little person five miles away reaching out to take it from you.

But asking ‘Who wants to do this next?’ doesn’t really work. There’s a delay on the internet that seems to vary from one household to another, and this makes it impossible to tell which hand went up first, or who spoke first. So we’ve started inviting our children to participate in a fixed order. The order changes every week, and if a child has nothing to say for a particular exercise, that’s fine. But everyone gets a go, and there’s never any doubt whose turn it is.

• After the games, we show a PowerPoint, which first lets everyone know how our comic is coming on, then introduces the subject we’re going to be looking at this week (developing characters, three panel comic strips, silly adverts, jokes & puzzles, and full page stories are the sessions we’ve run so far).

We’ve found that PowerPoint works really well through Zoom. If you click on the ‘Share Screen’ button, then choose ‘Screen,’ the images from your computer are broadcast to everyone in the meeting. Sometimes there’s a two or three second delay between one screen and another, but this has never caused us any massive problems. We did try sharing a video in our first online session, and that didn’t work so well; it wasn’t so bad on the recorded audio, that seemed to pass through the system fairly unscathed, but the images ended up as a series of jerky still photos. So we wouldn’t recommend anyone trying to run video through Zoom.

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Three slides from our PowerPoint on Character Development

• Once we’ve been through the PowerPoint, we start the children off on the week’s creative work. This is when they use the worksheets they’ve either printed off themselves or we’ve dropped off for them (and if anyone ever ends up without a worksheet, we always make sure the layouts are simple enough that they can make their own). This creative time varies from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how complex the task is. While they’re ‘making,’ the children start off conversations among themselves, they mess about with the ‘chat,’ sending silly messages to us, and each other, and some are now finding out how to get creative with Zoom’s own virtual backgrounds and drawing facilities – all of which results in a lot of chatter and laughter and strange things appearing on screen.

Nonetheless, they always manage to do whatever work we’ve set them. And if, along the way, anyone starts getting too noisy or posting inappropriate stuff, we are able to mute their microphones and wipe the screen clean. So the group is sometimes a bit rowdy, but things never get completely out of hand.

• At the end of each session, we ask the children to share their work – they hold up their pictures and stories to the cameras on their devices, and tell us about what they’ve done. We do this in the same fixed order as the games at the start, so there’s never any argument over whose go it is. Then we remind them to photograph or scan their pieces and load them in to our online classroom on Seesaw.

• Seesaw



Seesaw is an educational platform with which we, as teachers, can set up virtual classrooms completely inaccessible to general internet users. In the classroom, each child gets a journal into which they can load images, written text, video, audio files or links to other web sites. Each journal also has a series of creative facilities, so they can type, draw, or use the cameras and microphones on their own devices to record sound and video straight in.


Everyone in the classroom can see each other’s work, and family members can be invited to see an individual child’s journal. But apart from the teacher, that’s it. Each class is protected by a security code that changes every seven days, and no one else is allowed in.

As a business, Seesaw is aiming itself at large High Schools and education authorities who want lots of complex services. They have to pay for the platform. But there is a free version with limited administrative facilities and a 10 class limit, which is the one we use.

So, while we’re in lock-down, this is where we’ve been asking the children in our group to load their work so that we can all get to see it properly. And it’s been great. Obviously, with the younger ones, we’ve been relying on Mum or Dad to do the uploading, and some of our grown-ups have been a little bit slow getting to grips with the tech. But it’s no more complicated than Facebook or WhatsApp, and once you get started, it’s all very easy. Must be said, the uploads do look better if they come from a scanner, but photos from a phone are more than good enough.

Black & White Rainbow
Drawn straight in to Seesaw by Lottie (age 9)

• At the end of each session, everyone waves and shouts, “Bye!! See y’next week!!” We close the meeting while this noise is still going on, then click on to Seesaw to see who will be first to upload their work – it usually takes less than a minute for something to pop up. And once we’ve got it, we can copy it, then load it into Photoshop and get working with it – ready for next week.

Thanks so much to Phil for sharing this with us! Please get in touch if you want to take part in the Club Spotlight feature.

Club Spotlight: Marple Story Makers

Sophie by Evelyn (age 7)

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.

Bertie the Dancing Cow by Bea (age 9)

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.

Bob the Explorer by Sebi (age 8)

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

Club Spotlight: Kingswood Comicals

all together anon

Helen Jones, Lecturer in Primary Education at UCL Institute of Education, told me all about the Kingswood Comicals comic club.

Name of your Comic Club: Kingswood Comicals

Where do you meet and how often? Once a week, after school.

Average number of members: There are about 20 of us.

How long have you been running? We’ve only been going a short while, since April 2019.

Tell us about your club: We are an after school club based in South London – our members are usually from Year 5, but occasionally a few other children from different year groups sneak in! We enjoy making our own comics, borrowing comics to read at home and working collaboratively to create shared publications.

Do you have a comic club activity you’d like to share: Our favourite thing we did was organise and run a comic fair – we worked together to make posters, advertise the fair and produced six different comics to sell. We invited parents, other children and teachers to come and purchase our publications, and all money raised has been invested back into new resources for the club.

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We also loved being part of Comic Swap – we were thrilled when we received a comic from America, and all the other comics we received from other children taking part. Finally, our favourite activity from Comics Club Blog is the comic jam – we came up with some ridiculous storylines!

Which comics should we be reading right now? First and foremost – comics made by children! After that, we have a wide range of tastes… From our comic library at the club, some of the most borrowed authors are Raina Telgemeier and Vera Brosgol. We also enjoy Pokémon and The Phoenix. Finally, we like using books about Manga and Kawaii drawings to help develop out drawing styles.

Image result for be prepared vera brosgol

What are your plans for the coming year? A new bunch of Year 5 children will be joining the club, with some of the old group (now in Year 6) coming to help as specialists. We plan to run another comic fair, and would love to be able to do this in conjunction with other schools or clubs in the London area!

Many thanks to Helen and the Kingswood Comicals for telling us about their club! Please get in touch if  your comic club would like to take part in this feature.


Club Spotlight: QES Comics Club

Super power depot

QES Comics Club Members from Queen Elizabeth School in Kirkby Lonsdale told Hannah Sackett all about their comic club.

Name of your Comic Club: QES Comics Club

Where do you meet and how often?  The Library, every Tuesday lunchtime

Average number of members: 20

How long have you been running? About 9 years

Tell us about your club:

We draw a lot.  It’s a great place to do whatever you like (as long as it’s to do with comics) and express yourself.  We discuss films and comics related stuff, and we do challenges, and games like White Board Pictionary.

Do you have a comic club activity you’d like to share: White Board Pictionary!  Give everyone a slip of paper and ask them to write an idea on it (nothing too complex), collect them in and mix them up.  Get into teams if you like.  Then pick someone to start- give them one of the written down ideas at random for them to draw on the white board, while the rest of the group have a minute to guess what they’re drawing.  The person who guesses correctly before the time runs out, is the next to draw, and their team gets a point.

Which comics should we be reading right now? Naruto, Fullmetal Alchemist, Attack on Titan (older teen), Death of the Family (older teen) Tokyo Ghoul (older teen), One-punch Man, any Marvel esp Cap America Civil War.

What are your plans for the coming year? We hope to ask our friends, writer Andy Diggle, and artist, Sean Philips, back in to school as guest speakers, and to help us with our own comics.  We also hope to do some Arts Award, and finish some strips to contribute to an anthology comic in conjunction with another Comics Club in Portsmouth- all collaborations are welcome!  We’re also looking forward to the Excelsior Award 2020!


Thanks so much to the QES Comics Club for talking to us, and for club member Seth for creating this Comics Challenge for the blog! And a big thank you to librarian Gemma Sosnowsky for getting in touch with us. We’ll keep you posted with further details about the anthology comic… 

Club Spotlight: Salford Comics Club

A few months ago we noticed the brilliant responses to some of our Comics Challenges on the Salford Comics Club blog. Hannah Sackett talked to Joanne Wozencroft about their club.

Name of your Comic Club: Salford Comics Club.

Where do you meet and how often? Height Library in Salford, once a month.

Average number of members: 8 – 12

How long have you been running? Since June 2018

Tell us about your club:
Salford Comics Club is a small, free community-run comics club that runs every second Saturday of the month. We’re open to anyone aged 6 to 14, and often have a real mix of ages in our drop-in sessions.

We set up the club with the aim of getting more kids into the local library and sharing our love of comics – but ultimately, we want kids to have fun! Each session usually has a theme, linked to a challenge that aims to help the children come up with an idea for and create a comic to take home with them. This can be anything from remembrance and history (our theme for November) to animal hybrids and random shapes.

Do you have a comic club activity you’d like to share:
One of our club’s favourite activities to end on is a ‘drawing game’ – we try and do one of these every week. Each person takes it in turn to draw something on our large flip chart, everyone adding a bit to the drawing until we’ve got our very own crowd-sourced. masterpiece. The results are usually something hilarious and horrific in equal measure.

Please do check out the club’s blog to see more of their brilliant comics!

Club Spotlight: Stoneydown Park School Drawing Group

picture of us

This month, Ben Thompson tells Hannah Sackett about the club he runs at Stoneydown Park School in Walthamstow, London.

Name of your Comic Club: Stoneydown Park School Drawing Group

Where do you meet and how often? The Art Room at Stoneydown Park Primary School, once a week.

Average number of members: Ten

How long have you been running? One year.

Tell us about your club: The group is made up of children from years 3, 4 and 5. We meet up after school on Fridays, and sit around a big table in the Art Room. Often there’s a starter activity. Usually this involves me giving out a bunch of little mini-comics that I’ve started, and getting the children to finish them. The endings they come up with are usually incredibly gory! After this, everyone gets on with drawing whatever they want – unicorns, weird worlds, things from Minecraft etc., Sometimes someone brings along some glittery pens or some pretty stationery from Smiggle. Sometimes snacks get shared out. At the end, we do a ‘show and tell’ of what we’ve drawn (if there’s time) and then we all go home!

Do you have a comic club activity you’d like to share:
We’ve had quite a lot of fun doing collaborative, two-panel comics. One person does the first panel and then passes it to a second person to complete. There aren’t too many rules about how to do this, but it helps if the first panel has at least two characters in it. Also, it helps if there’s something a little bit unusual going on e.g. maybe there’s a strange object, or maybe one of the characters is doing something unusual.

The drawing club have also contributed a Comics Challenge for this month – check it out here! Thanks to Ben and the club members for sharing their ideas and drawings.

You can read about the comic they contributed to the Comic Swap here and read reviews of it here.

Club Spotlight Update!

This month we revisit the Drawing Comics Club at St Aubyn’s School, to find out about their latest members and what they’ve been up to!

Name of your Comic Club: Drawing Comics Club

Tell us about the latest members of your clubs: The club is so popular we have expanded our numbers from 10 to 12. This term we still have a range of very enthusiastic boys and girls from years 4 and 5.

Do you have a comic club activity you’d like to share: This week we took a leaf out of Phoenix Comic’s Jess Bradley‘s book and worked on comedy horoscopes, although I had to explain what a horoscope and star sign was first which took me by surprise! Following this long discussion, we have created some very funny panels which we will be giving to another group in the school for their pupil magazine!

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Which comics should we be reading right now?

Latest popular comics in the library include: Akissi – Tales of Mischief by Marguerite Abouet, Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson and Corpse Talk : Ground-Breaking Scientists
by Adam Murphy and Lisa Murphy.

  Image result for calvin and hobbes book cover  Image result for Corpse Talk : Ground-Breaking Scientists

Many thanks to librarian Rhiannon Cook for answering our questions!


Comic Club Spotlight with the Comic Jammers!

Hannah Sackett talked to school librarian Rhiannon Cook about her new comic club:

Name of your Comic Club: Drawing Comics Club


Where do you meet and how often? We meet in the school library, once a week on a Thursday.

Average number of members: At the moment we have 8 members but next term we should be back up to our full membership of 10 pupils.

How long have you been running? This Christmas term was the first term the club has run due to changes in the library opening hours, however, we are looking forward to running as long as there is demand! At the moment there is a waiting list and lots of pupils are keen. We have lots of comic readers throughout the school.


Tell us about your club: As we are fairly new, we have used the first half of term to find our way a little through comic jams, draw-a-long videos, the How to Draw series on Guardian Kids, ideas from drawing books we have in the library and of course worksheets and inspiration from the Comics Club Blog. In the second half of term we have been brainstorming for our own comic; voting on a name (Comic Jam), tag line, ideas for front covers and drafting our panels before creating a final storyboard each. We also had a school visit from Neill Cameron in October which inspired us a lot!

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Do you have a comic club activity you’d like to share: One of our favourite activities was the Make Your Own Superhero/villain exercise on the Comics Club Blog. What I would like to do next time is extend this activity to a life size version! With the club in 2 groups of 5, use a roll of art paper to draw around a pupil and the group must add the clothes, features, powers of the hero/villain and label to present to the group.

Which comics should we be reading right now? Some of our favourite comics right now are: the Phoebe and her Unicorn series by Dana Simpson, Mega Robo Bros by Neill Cameron, and the Hilo series by Judd Winick.

Image result for phoebe and her unicorn Image result for mega robo brosImage result for hilo by judd winick

What are your plans for the coming year? As the club is so popular, our members will be changing once a term to give other keen comic artists a chance. The current members (or Comic Jammers) are very determined to keep making their own comics and are even discussing continuing Comic Jam outside of school hours!

Thanks so much to Rhiannon and the Comic Jammers for telling us about their club. We’ll be catching up with the club again over the next few months to hear more about their favourite comics.

Comic Club Spotlight with Inkpots

Hannah Sackett caught up with Gill Pawley of Inkpots to find out about the Inkpots comic club.

Name of your Comic Club: Inkpots Comic Crew.

Annamalai 1
Inkpots by Annamalai

Where do you meet and how often? We meet on Wednesdays at one of our after school clubs.

Average number of members: 10

How long have you been running? For about nine months.

Annabel and Martha
Fidget Spinners Take Over by Annabel and Martha

Tell us about your club:

We started the club after discovering Comics Club Blog and realising how many children just loved comics and drawing cartoons. It started at one after school club but has now spread to other groups

comic by Heath


Do you have a comic club activity you’d like to share: There is always lots of interest in anything to do with chocolate…

annamalai 3
The Chocolate Problems by annamalai
annamalai 2
Mars Bar by Annamalai

Which comics should we be reading right now? The Phoenix is a big favourite!

What are your plans for the coming year?

We plan to have a big get together of all the Inkpots children who like comics and have a giant comics jam. We also hope to have one of the contributors from The Phoenix come and run a workshop for us.

Inkpots writing workshops

Many thanks to Gill for talking to us and to comic crew members for sharing their cartoons! We’re looking forward to them reporting back on their giant comics jam!


Comic Clubs Spotlight with Kingsholm Primary School

Matt Bunce tells Hannah Sackett all about the Awesome Comic Club at Kingsholm Church of England Primary School, in Gloucester.


Your Comic Club is run as part of the ‘Kingsholm University’ –  a university teaching comics sounds like a lot of fun – how does it work? 

The university works like this:

  • Teachers/teaching assistants/outside experts decide on a ‘module’ that they would like to run for 6 sessions.  Each session lasts approximately an hour and a half.  The modules can be about anything, and have ranged from sports, to art, to cooking, cleaning and decorating, to gardening and crafting skills, even hairdressing at one time.
  • The module leader plans a 6 week unit of learning covering the skills that will be taught to the children, and the end result.
  • The modules are then presented to the children in a (very long, exciting) assembly.
  • We then have the 6 weeks of university, on a Friday afternoon, from 12:30.
  • At the end of the 6 weeks, we have a celebration assembly where the children share some of their learning, and see a power point slideshow of all the units.  They receive a certificate to show they have completed their chosen module.
  • Then we do it again next term!


Why do you run the Kingsholm University in your school?

One of the benefits of the university it that it enables children to share and develop skills that may not come through in a traditional curriculum.  Some of our children are very practical, and are able to use these skills in university modules.  Some modules (such as ‘Go, team. Go!’ and ‘Going Wild’) have focussed on team and leadership skills, and have allowed children who may not normally display those skills in a class setting, to take a more active role in a team/leadership situation given the practical nature of the tasks.  Finally, it allows children to develop new skills, and perhaps discover something they will love doing, and find their path in life.


Why did you choose to run a comic club module?

So, comics!  I love comics, always have, always will!  I have drawn a few in my life, and feel that they are underused in education.  However, I recognise that they are not readily understood by all teachers, and therefore perhaps shied away from during literacy sessions (apart from the ‘storyboard’ style comics used in story planning etc).  I wanted to communicate this love to the children, and also slyly get in some English learning in the 6 weeks I had.  It has been a very popular module with 25 children involved.


What did your Awesome Comics sessions involve?

We covered character development, basic storytelling and dialogue in a visit from Neill Cameron, and then went on to look at drawing different poses, drawing faces and lettering.  The final two weeks were spent on drawing and expanding the basic strips and finally publishing the comic.  In addition, I hope to encourage the children to get into reading and making comics, as I know that comics can have a huge benefit to literacy skills – they certainly helped teach me to read!

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Will you run this group again?

As a module, it is one I have enjoyed planning and delivering, I will certainly run it again next year.  I will also be running a comic club as an afterschool club next academic year.

Huge thanks to Matt for telling us about his club and for inviting Neill and Hannah to visit his group – which was full of awesome cartoonists! Their finished comic looks amazing – and was one of the comics to be featured over on the Comic Swap website.