Comic Swap!

Has your comic club made a comic? Why not get involved in the new Comic Swap run by Hannah Sackett and Lydia Wysocki, with Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books

Hannah and Lydia tell us how it works…

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Comic Swap helps groups of children share comics they’ve made. Our first swap is now open!

How it works:
  • You, as the adult responsible for a children’s comics-making group, send 6 copies of your comic to us at Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books.
  • We add one copy of your comic to the Comic Swap library at Seven Stories.
  • We shuffle the comics sent to us by the groups taking part in the swap.
  • You wait excitedly by the letterbox to receive 5 comics made by other comic swap groups.
  • You read your new comics!

The closing date for emailed permission forms is Friday 7th April 2017.
The closing date for posted comics to arrive at Seven Stories is Friday 14th April 2017.
Swapped comics will be posted out in May 2017.

Each comics swap group must be formed of multiple children and at least one responsible adult. Please do not send us any money: your group pays postage costs to send your comics to us, then we pay the postage to send you 5 new comics made by other groups.

Visit our blog for full details of how to get involved: https://comicswap.wordpress.com/about/

Don’t worry if you don’t have a comic to swap this time round – there will be more Comic Swaps to come, so start making those comics now!

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CHALLENGE ACCEPTED: Creating Characters!

Have you had a go at our February Comics Challenge yet? Lots of fine people have, taking Jamie Smart‘s top-notch tips and creating all sorts of strange and remarkable characters. Let’s have a look!

First, here are some of the amazing creations from Neill’s Comics Club group at The Story Museum in Oxford:

DJ DUCK, by Morrigan!

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The **CATEGORICALLY NOT CUTE** Floating tozbot, by Sabeen!

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The frankly extraordinary MR DEPRESSED LATTE MAN, by Eliza!

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The (extremely positive) FLYING MAGIC CLOUD SHEEP, by Jack!

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The (adorable) GINGERBREAD BOY, by Freddie!

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The (angry) Ballet Pig MR BALLA ANGRY, by Libby:

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…and lots more! (Sorry to everyone I didn’t get a photo for!)

It was great seeing other people join in on twitter, too:

Once you’ve created a character, of course, the fun part is making up a whole story about them! Neill’s usual starting point for story structure looks like this:

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But in honour of Jamie’s work, this time we tried a variant, which looked a bit more like this:

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…and which led to some HIGHLY ENTERTAINING results:

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(AMAZING. I do love a story with a moral, apart from anything else.)

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(HARROWING).

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(MACHO APPLEJUICE)

…anyway, why not try this out yourself? you can find Jamie’s activity sheet as a download here, and a stack of blank comics pages right here. Let us know how you get on!

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Comic Club Spotlight with Dundee Comics Creative Space

This month we head to Dundee – birthplace of The Beano, The Dandy and many, many more comics. Damon Herd tells Hannah Sackett all about the brilliant Comic Clubs running at the Dundee Comics Creative Space.

Name of your Comic Club: Comics Club at Dundee Comics Creative Space

Where do you meet and how often? We meet every week in our own dedicated space in The Vision Building in Dundee. Tuesdays from 4.30-6.30pm for 10-13 year olds and every Wednesday from 4.30-6.30pm for 14-17 year olds. We also do outreach workshops at local schools and community groups.

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Average number of members: 15-20

How long have you been running? Since March 1st 2016

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Tell us about your club: DCCS is a social enterprise and studio project set up by the University of Dundee with funding from the The Rank Foundation. The aim is to provide educational workshops and to encourage creative learning through comics. Ink Pot, our studio, is filled with comics artists, many of whom are graduates of the comics courses atthe University and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design here in Dundee. The Ink Pot artists facilitate our workshops.

Most weeks we will do an exercise to learn a bit about comics but there will always be free drawing time. Sometimes we are working towards a publication, such as our anthology Tales From Dundee & Beyond, which was launched at Dundee Literary Festival last October. The Comics Clubbers also put together 8-page zine-style comics of their own work for the festival. Some of them became super entrepreneurs, handing out flyers and encouraging people to buy their comics! We also had an exhibition of comics in Dundee last year and the children’s comics were included in that too. Our connection with the University means we are able to get some great guests, such as Will Morris and Cam Kennedy. Dave Gibbons is our patron and did a workshop and portfolio review here when we first opened.

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Do you have a comic club activity you’d like to share: We love to start our workshops with warm up exercises and the favourite, by a long way, is consequences (or exquisite corpse), which always has everyone in stitches when the wacky characters are revealed at the end.

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Which comics should we be reading right now? Tales From Dundee and Beyond: Comics Club Comic Strips Volume 1. The anthology of strips by the young people in our workshops from the first six months of Comics Club – available from our website! The characters on the cover were designed for us by Glasgow-based artist Letty Wilson, who is a graduate of the Comics Masters at the University of Dundee. The Beano is still a favourite with our comics clubbers, and there is usually a Marvel/DC argument going on among some of them. Anything with a pug in it would be a big hit too. We looked at Lumberjanes a few weeks ago and that was popular, everyone started running round shouting ‘What the junk?’ Personally, I really like The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Love and Rockets and anything by Julia Gfrörer.

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What are your plans for the coming year? More of everything. More Comics Clubs, more anthology comics, more exhibitions, more guests, and more collaborations with other groups.

Where can we find out more? Here at our website. We also have a mailing list if folks want to be kept up to date with all things DCCS: http://eepurl.com/ct8XFn

Many thanks to Damon and to the members of the Comic Clubs for sharing their work!

 

 

February Comics Challenge: Create a Character with Jamie Smart!

For this month’s comics challenge we are very lucky to have an activity designed by the amazing, talented and wholly indescribable Jamie Smart! Jamie is the prolific cartoonist, creator of Bunny VS Monkey and Looshkin in The Phoenix, as well as Find Chaffy, Where’s the Doctor, and MANY MANY MORE, not to mention being the creator and editor of the incredible all-ages anthology comic Moose Kid Comics. One of Jamie’s signature talents is his knack for creating unique, distinctive and hilarious characters, so for this month’s Comics Challenge he’s showing us how to do just that!

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If you’re doing this activity with a group, try brainstorming a load of suggestions at step 1 and writing them all up on the board / flipchart / wall / whatever, and then picking one to draw – that way you’ve got loads more ideas for when everyone else has a go!

Here’s the whole thing as an activity sheet, ready to be drawn on:

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Or: download as a PDF!

Have a go yourselves, and do show us what you come up with! We’d love to see your characters – get in touch through our contact page or tweet them at us at @ComicsclubBLOG!

Thanks so much to Jamie for letting us use this! If yo’re putting together a collection of Great Comics For Kids, Jamie’s work is an excellent place to start. You can buy his books such as Bunny VS Monkey (3 volumes so far, and beloved favourites all) in all good bookshops or direct from the Phoenix.

 

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You can also read all 3 issues to date (plus one Christmas special!) of Jamie’s incredible Moose Kid Comics project online. For free!

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And be sure to check out Jamie’s website for more details on ALL HIS OTHER STUFF! There is a lot of stuff! The guy is VERY PRODUCTIVE!

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How To Start Up a Comic Club

We here at comicsclub.blog are all about encouraging people to start up comic clubs, and several of you have asked for some guidance on the specifics of how to go about this. To help you get started, we are incredibly lucky to feature this Guest Post by Alix Coughlin, co-founder and wrangler of Team Ketchup, self-publishing youth comic collective

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So you think that having a Comic Club would be a Really Good Thing, and a lovely idea and you know a bunch of people who would really enjoy the chance to meet up, talk about and make comics, but you don’t know where to start?

To be honest, that’s where we were at the beginning of Team Ketchup – it was just an idea, but four years later we are self-funding, published five issues of our comic, have thirty members and have exhibited at Thought Bubble three times – it grows very quickly!

So here are some ideas, based on our experiences and with the benefit of hindsight.

We initially came together to be judges for the British Comic Awards Young People’s Choice Award http://britishcomicawards.com/ as it gave us a focus and a list of books to read. The group was put together by a librarian, Joolze, and supported by me, a parent, and we persuaded one other parent to join us. Having the group in the library meant that we had access to the catalogue of books, a trained and knowledgeable children’s librarian, and a safe space. It also meant that children from different schools and of different ages could join. However, other groups at the British Comic Awards are reading groups from schools.

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Step One  – contact your local library and ask about the possibility of starting a comic club. Libraries really want young people to come to the library, and they are looking for ways of having more community involvement. It can be once a month, or once a week for a short period of time e.g. six weeks, in the first instance, so it’s not too overwhelming. The other option is to go to your local school and ask about running a reading group focused on comics. If you are looking for a focus and a reading list, then the Excelsior Award http://www.excelsioraward.co.uk/ is a good place to start, although you do have to pay to join in. It has both a Junior Award and a list more suitable for teenagers and will help you find age appropriate material if you are not a comic fan yourself.

The main point to take from Step One is that you need people to give up their time, just a little bit, in order to get the most out of it. Look for people who are enthusiastic and willing, because they will be your greatest asset. And that goes for the kids too – do they really really want to read and talk about comics? Are they passionate about super-heroes and super-powers? Do they feel like they’re the only people they know who make comics? Are they secret comics makers who haven’t shared their work before? Get them together with other people like them, and they will blossom and grow and become much more powerful than they ever thought possible! And parents who don’t “understand” comics at first will grow to realise the potential in them and what their kids get out of being part of a comic group. We have an amazing support group of parents who help out at events, we couldn’t do it without them.

Step Two – start off small, don’t have more than 10 or 12 members, it gets loud and there will be a lot of different opinions and readers of different comic styles. For every DC/Marvel fan there is an equally loud Asterix/Tintin fan. For every reader of The Phoenix comic there will be a Raina Telgemeier devotee. Also, it makes it easier to resource as you could choose a list of books to read and easily find ten different comics to share out and swap.

For a list of resources, don’t feel like you are on your own. Comics people are amazingly generous with their knowledge and skills and there are multiple Lists of Comics out there on the internet. Twitter is especially good for advice. The British Comic Awards shortlists from the last few years are a good place to start for junior clubs, and the Excelsior Awards. Both have a lot of books from The Phoenix Comic, which are essentials for any comic club https://www.thephoenixcomic.co.uk/product-category/comic-books/  in fact they are essentials for all libraries and schools. This http://www.booktrust.org.uk/books/children/comics-and-graphic-novels/ is a good list and is split into younger and older readers. Neill has written a list based on a seven year old http://neillcameron.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/comics-and-literacy-day-4-comics-for-7.html but that was a while ago and needs adding to (seriously Neill, what else have you got to do at the moment?). Sarah McIntyre is also an amazing advocate for comics and has written some ideas here http://jabberworks.livejournal.com/502079.html

For the first few weeks just reading and sharing ideas will keep the children busy, but introduce the idea of critiquing the books they’re reading – what do they like about them? What do they notice about the colours, characters, backgrounds, stories? Who would they recommend them to and why? Get a discussion going on what features there are in a comic that makes it stand out from other story genres, what shortcuts can be used, how is the story broken down into sections? Does it give them any ideas about their own stories or an idea for a character? The more variety of styles, drawing, characters and genres they are exposed to the better for when they start their own drawing and comic creating.

Step Three – start to think about getting the kids writing and drawing their own comics. Again, you are not on your own, there are so many inspirational comic creators out there sharing their ideas. This Comics Club blog and challenges are a fabulous place to start, and easy to follow. Get Neill’s book How to Make Awesome Comics and follow the instructions – it does what it says on the tin. Start a comic-jam with guidance from Sarah McIntyre http://jabberworks.livejournal.com/?skip=5&tag=comics%20jam

http://jabberworks.livejournal.com/tag/comics%20jam  – with a video so there’s no excuse!

It will take a lot of paper, pens and pencils (and we find biscuits help too) before the kids find their style and get into making stories that make sense or don’t end in explosions and blowing up, but it is part of the process. One of things we wish we had done at the beginning was to give guidelines on layout of the comics. Ensure the children leave a margin around their page, they use clear panels that don’t join together, and that their text is written in block capitals, with the bubbles drawn in after the text is written. If they start out knowing that this is their brief, even when planning their stories, when it is printed it will look neat and tidy and be able to be reduced from A4 to A5. Print off some comic layouts for them to help them to see the style, or encourage the use of a pencil and ruler to make their own frames.

This step might need a long time to develop it, but if you use all the resources available to you there will be lots to do, plenty of exercises to develop story telling skills and understanding of the comic format. Don’t rush it!

 

Step Four – looking for funding in order to make a printed copy. This is where links with your library will be helpful as they may know what local council funding is available, and will be able to help with applications. Have a look here https://www.gov.uk/apply-funding-community-project for what is available in your area. Go small rather than big, to begin with, save that for later!

You may choose to photocopy your comic, in which case it will be cheaper, but if you want a good quality product that will sell, make contact with a printing service. You don’t need a large first run, but work out how much it will cost, how much they will sell for , and what profit you’d need for a second run, so it becomes self-funding.

If you are linked with a school, approach the Parent/Teacher Association, or the governors, or the Literacy Co-ordinator and ask for help. Funds raised can always go back into school. Year 6s are often asked to plan and carry out an Enterprise project in their last term of school, this would be a fantastic opportunity for them to research print costs, how to market the comic, who to sell to. Local colleges with Arts students are often asked to take part in enterprise schemes too, you could approach them for support and partnership.

Step Five – the children make and print their own comic. Give them a time frame – they will need to produce a first draft for approval by you (make sure the story does not offend anyone, makes sense, and can be read) then a couple of weeks to refine and finish it. Make sure that all pencil marks are inked over and then rubbed out. It’s up to you if they are coloured or not, depends on the cost of your printing. There should be a clear margin around the comic, with panels drawn in neatly, with space for a title and the name of the author.

What we expect is two submissions from each member of the group. Then we have a final deadline meeting where they read each other’s comics and then vote on which story is the best. Then the content of your comic is democratically chosen. You could also have a competition to design and draw the front cover, and the name of your collective (do choose carefully, ours was originally The Pink Fluffy Ketchup Covered Flower Ponies!).

Once all the pages are gathered in and checked, send them off the printers and let them do their job. Plan a launch party for your comic and show the world your creation!

Hope these are helpful. Let us know how you get on and share your work. We are always open to questions. We’ve always said, we might be the first self-publishing youth comic-collective in the country, but we don’t want to be the only ones!

Get in touch – Facebook: Team Ketchup, Twitter: @theteamketchup

Email : pinkfluffyketchups@gmail.com

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Club Spotlight with Team Ketchup

Every month here at comicsclub.blog Hannah Sackett will be shining a spotlight on some of the great work being done at Comics Clubs around the country, to share some amazing kids’ comics and to help give you ideas you can try in your own groups. Let’s get things started with a visit to beautiful Yorkshire!

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Name of your Comic Club:

The Team Ketchup

Where do you meet and how often?

Once a month at Skipton Library, for a ‘Library Lock-in’ – we get to stay on after the library has closed to the public. When we’re judging for the British Comic Awards we meet once a week, but that’s only in the autumn.

 

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Average number of members:

30 members as we can’t take any more and there’s a waiting list. Ketchup Splats! the junior section has ten children at a time on six week courses, we have run two of these so far, and are planning some more to
get more children involved.

How long have you been running?

We started in 2013, just as judges for the British Comic Awards Young People’s Choice, but it really took off in 2014 when we decided to publish our own comic and take it to Thought Bubble Comic Art Festival in Leeds, and we haven’t stopped since!

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Tell us about your club: 

We are aged from 10 to 17, with members from seven different schools around Skipton area and beyond, run by parent volunteers and one employee of the library.  We all love reading comics or creating out own materials, and come together once a month to talk about our own comics, read each other’s materials, and make plans for events like Thought Bubble, Skipton’s Sheep Day and holding public comic-jams. We have published five issues of our comic ‘Pink Fluffy Ketchup Covered Flower Ponies ‘ (which was the original name of the group, but Team Ketchup is much easier to remember!) and have published a small run of the junior section’s comic Ketchup Splats!.

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We originally bid for some money from Craven Dragons’ Den so that we could publish one comic, but it seems to have grown since then. We have exhibited at Thought Bubble three times, and last year ran the family area of the convention, inviting the public to comic-jam with us, draw a doodle for our awesome doodle wall, or just to drop-in and draw with us. We won the Craven Community Champions Arts Award in 2015 and were runners up for the North Yorkshire Volunteer Awards for Best Community Group.

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We’ve had two artists come and do workshops with us and the public, Neill Cameron, creator of MegaRoboBros, Tamsin and the Deep and other Phoenix Comic stories,  and Dan White, creator and independent publisher of Cindy and Biscuit. These were really helpful and made a difference to our comic drawing style. We’ve also worked with other agencies who have realised how awesome comics are for communicating information, and we had a commission from Rural Action Yorkshire to make some materials to go out to schools with one of their campaigns. Mostly, the group is a fun place to meet up, make friends, make and read comics with like-minded people and eat biscuits. It just so happens that the members are developing a lot of skills along the way – bidding for money, meeting and selling to the public, talking to professional comic creators, marketing their materials, time management, meeting deadlines,  matching commission briefs,  democratic decision making and creativity.  But don’t tell the kids that!
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Do you have a comic club activity you’d like to share?

 Comic-jams are always fun and a great way to get people to work together. At public workshops we’ve had people in from age 4 to 84, and so many of them say they can’t draw or don’t know how to make a comic until they see how easy it is to develop a story working with someone else. Probably the most popular activity are the end of term parties that involve a lot of cake and balloons!

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Which comics should we be reading right now? 

Ooh, too hard a question! With thirty members there are so many different styles and genres of comics that are favourites. The Phoenix Comic is always popular with all members, even the older ones love the stories and different styles – most of us voted for Lost Tales by Adam Murphy for the British Comic Awards, which was the winner –it is beautiful and interesting, and has such detail in each story. Squirrel Girl and Ms Marvel are popular, Ghosts by Rainer Telgemeier, all the Hilda books by Luke Pearson, and of course, anything with Deadpool!

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What are your plans for the coming year? 

We will be creating and publishing Issue 6 in time for Skipton Sheep Day (yes, it’s a thing!) and will be selling the comic on a stall on the high street as well as holding a public comic-jam workshop. Last year we had over two hundred people so we’re hoping to beat that this year. We have plans to collaborate with the Reading Hacks and the Reading Agency in holding a competition to create some zines, that’s for the older members of the group. We might be able to run Ketchup Splats! again, depending on the older members of Team Ketchup who run it. We will be at Thought Bubble again, running the family area with drawing activities, and we might have time to produce another issue later in the year!

Many thanks to Alix for answering my questions! Find out more about Team Ketchup’s activities here: @theteamketchup

Please get in touch via the Contact page if you would like your comic club to be featured here!

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Stick Stories: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED

Last week we shared our first-ever Comics Challenge – Stick Stories – and now we thought we’d share some of the fantastic work some of our members came up with! First, here are some of the stick-figure renditions of characters and stories from Neill’s Comics Club group at the story museum in Oxford. Let’s start with a classic!

…Stick Rapunzel, by Libby!

Here’s one that manages to condense not just one story but an entire 6-movie epic saga into 4 panels: Stick Star Wars, by Charlie!

And, proving that even alarmingly violent dystopian sci-fi can be rendered adorable in the right artistic hands, here’s The Stick Hunger Games by Lauren!

(Here’s Stick Katniss!)

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And here are are some of our amazing artists with their work!

(… there were *many more* great ones, I just can only take so many photos. Sorry if I missed you out!)

Once we posted the challenge online, we had lots more people join in with their own Stick Stories! Check out some of this gloriousness and see if you can identify the characters / stories! (Answers at the bottom).

 

 

 

 

 

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(Answers, from top to bottom: Arriety from The Borrowers, Pippi Longstocking, Batman VS Superman, Pokemon Go, An Original Composition (I think), The Hobbit,  Ant-Man, Boffing Leaves The Oven On (what, you haven’t read it? It’s great), Norwegian Wood (Haruki Murakami).

There’s loads more – follow us on twitter at @ComicsClubBLOG or check out the #stickstories hashtag to see them! (Thanks to everyone from Sarah McIntyre’s @StudioTeaBreak gang who joined in, that was fun!)

If you’d like to have a go at making some Stick Stories yourselves, you can find the full activity and downloadable worksheets right here!

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