Monday, April 30, 2007

The Final Month: May

May is going to be the last month of the CCP. Fortunately, it'll be going out with a bang. The 5/2 session will be based on "To Kill a Mockingbird" to coincide with the national America Reads events. Later in the month, I hope to have a special guest speaker from the area give the kids some art tips. For the final lesson on 5/30, I plan to base a lesson on an adaptation of "Shine or Die," a massive story arc I wrote with Erin Ptah for And Shine Heaven Now.

In addition to the main session at the New Haven Public Library, I'll be adding a series of 4 additional "CCP Workshops" at the Dixwell-Yale Community Learning Center (DYCLC). These 4 workshops will be presented twice a day to two classes of 20-25 students at the DYCLC. I'll be condensing the material I presented at the library and using new and old templates.

Also attending the workshops at the DYCLC will be a small group of students from the High Meadow School of Hamden. The High Meadow School is a special school for troubled youths. The instructors there see the CCP as something that can help tap the creativity of these children to help inspire them to improve.

I'm also going to look at doing a special one-shot CCP presentation at the Yale Bookstore for local schools, but that'll depend largely on how much time I have left.

And, of course, looming on the horizon is the Comic Making Tournament, the grand conclusion to all things CCP here in New Haven. That's scheduled for June 2 from 11 - 2 PM. May is going to be when the preparations for the CMT start moving with added momentum. I'll also be finding out if the grant application for prize money I sent back in March gets approved or not.

This looks to be a great month!

A Milestone and The Numbers Game 2

With the last session of April done, it's time to look at the numbers again.

Thanks to the last two sessions, the CCP has now generated over 1000 comics! This is an amazing milestone. I'd only predicted 700-800 when I first started, so the kids have exceeded all my expectations. Going at an average rate of 5 comics a week, I have almost enough comics to last 4 years. And I still have the month of May left.

Other numbers that have changed:

Top Five:

1. 129, 4/18/07
2. 112, 4/11/07
3. 90, 4/4/07
4. 80, 12/6/06
5. 68, 4/25/07

Average number of comics produced per session: 50.8

This is the highest the average has been since December, which had a high of 54.5 after the first two sessions, then 50.7 and 50.75 before dropping down into the 40's in the last week.

Average number of comics produced per student: 5
Average number of comics produced per template: 2.5

April's been an excellent month for me. I'm looking forward to May!

4/25/07 Session

The 4/25/07 Session went well despite my bad wrist, though bad weather kept numbers low. Still, the kids produced an admirable 68 comics, putting it in the top 5.

The theme was based on a 6 page arc around some Avatar: The Last Airbender fanart. All the kids love Avatar, so it went over well.

Friday, April 27, 2007


Sorry for the lack of updates. I recently hurt my wrist (tendonitis), so I need to minimize typing for a bit. Summaries of the 4/25 session and other CCP news will come after I recover.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Yale Sponsors the CMT

The Yale Office of New Haven and State Affairs has agreed to help sponsor the Comic Making Tournament. This means the CMT is, in addition to a community event, now a Yale event. I was honestly not expecting to get such an enormous endorsement!

This should help convince the Yale Bookstore to sponsor the CMT, as they reserve most of their charity budget for Yale events.

4/18/07 CCP Pictures

New pictures have been added to the CCP's Gallery: 14 pictures from the 4/18 session. As you can see, it was a very diverse group, which is normal. Several regular students were there, as well as some new students.

I'm still editing the video clips into a reasonable size for posting and will host it on YouTube later.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

4/18/07 Session

The 4/18 session has come and gone. This was a very good session, with 12 kids and 5 adults. The theme was "Dr. McNinja," with the main goal being to reword the first installment of McNinja's adventures. All the kids really loved it, because ninjas are awesome. As with all large multi-page comics, I had them write out what they were going to write ahead of time using an outline worksheet.

I got three complete remixes of the chapter and several partial ones. A few took their comics home to finish; hopefully I get them back next week.

This session continued the trend of past ones by setting a new record in terms of number of templates made: 129 in all, a good half of them being Dr. McNinja related.

I also brought my digital camera with me. Lots of pictures and videos to share. I shall be posting them later.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

100 Comics

I nearly forgot to post: today the 100th CCP comic has been posted to the site! A great milestone. And there are still plenty of other comics to come.

Another Comic Joins the CCP

Mark Monlux has donated a template from The Return of Stickman! for use in the CCP. Thanks!

New CMT Sponsor

Hull's University Art Supply and Framing has agreed to help sponsor the Comic Making Tournament, bringing the total number of sponsors to three.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

CCP Workshops

Since the news article about the CCP was published in the New Haven Register, I've had several people contact me about expanding the CCP.

Fair Haven Middle School and the High Meadow School in Hamden both want me to teach their students. The Dixwell-Yale Community Learning Center (DYCLC) has asked me to do a series of workshops for their children in May. And the Yale Bookstore is open to the idea of inviting some students and having me do a CCP demo at their store for them.

Unfortunately, my schedule is tight for May and June since I'm going to be moving. But I will definitely try to squeeze in these requests. The DYCLC workshops have my highest priority since they're Yale related. My hope is that I can coordinate teaching the students of the schools with the DYCLC and Yale Bookstore events.

The Comic Making Tournament

The Comic Making Tournament (CMT) is a special CCP event I've been working on for several weeks now. The CMT is intended as the grand finale to the CCP activity here in New Haven, CT. Currently, it's scheduled for June 2 from 11 AM - 2 PM at the New Haven Public Library Main Branch.

The CMT is designed to be an Iron Chef-style competition where kids participate in various comic making activities and are then judged and given prizes. No participants will go away empty handed, but winning earns more "swag." Prizes are mainly books and gift certificates.

Current event ideas include long ans short form comic making and a speed competition. Most events will be done in both individual and group form, with playing "brackets" done depending on how many kids sign up.

I'm going to act as the "Chairman." One thing I'll need are judges for the event. I'm hoping I can get local artists to join in, as well as library staff. Judging will be done with points based on grammatical skill and creativity, very similar to Iron Chef. If I can get some webcomic artists to stop by, I may even be able to do a mock Iron Chef competition with all the participants ganging up on the artist.

To prepare for the CMT, I've been going to local New Haven businesses and asking them to sponsor the event and provide prizes. So far, two have signed on: Alternate Universe, a comic book store; and Book Trader's Cafe, a used book store. Book Trader was especially helpful: the owner donated books and gift certificates right on the spot. It's amazing how willing businesses are to sponsor community service events; all you have to do is ask!

Other businesses that I've asked and am waiting for a yes/no include the Yale Bookstore, Hull's Art Supplies, Atticus Bookstore, and Cutler's Record Store. I'm also looking into getting help from the Greater New Haven Literacy Coalition and the associated New Haven Reads Book Bank. Once the sponsor list is finalized, fliers will be created and advertising will begin.

One of my hopes is that when I get to Pittsburgh, I'll be able to settle in quickly enough to organize a second CMT there around the same date and make this an annual event.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A CCP Haiku

Random bit of poetry:

Create a Comic,
Create a Comic Project,
Oh, the CCP!

In other news, I've contacted two more comics about being part of the CCP: Unshelved and The Return of Stickman. I'm also still awaiting word from MegaTokyo.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

CCP Video

Video Clip from 3/21/07

From the YouTube summary I wrote:

"A short video I recorded late during a Create a Comic Project session March 21, 2007. The kids loved hamming it up for the camera. Most of the regular attendees had left by the time this video was shot; total attendance for that day was about 10. Normal sessions are not nearly as chaotic, of course!

The girl is the most frequent attendee of the CCP. She's attended all but two sessions. The boy is also a regular and goes to school with her. The voice is my own.

On the table you can see the Can of Inspiration. The box on the chair visible at 00:13 is the Submission Box, where kids submit comics they're most proud of.

The video was recorded at the New Haven Free Public Library in the Activity Room on the second floor."

The Numbers Game

For any interested, here are some summary statistics for the CCP to date:

Total comics produced: 791
Number of sessions: 18
Sessions missed: 2 - 1/17/07 due to an interview out of state and 2/14/07 due to snow closing the library

Top sessions by comics produced:

1. 112, 4/11/07
2. 90, 4/4/07
3. 80, 12/6/06
4. 61, 3/28/07
5. 51, 12/20/06

(There's been a steady increase in the number of comics made since late March.)

Session with fewest comics: 5, 1/24/07

Record attendance: 18
Average attendance: 10-12

Average number of comics produced per session: 43.9
Average number of comics produced per student: 4
Average number of comics produced per template: 2.3
Most comics made with a single comic template: 16

As I've stated in the CCP's FAQ, these numbers are underestimates, as there are many comics produced that I never see when kids take them home. Still, the statistics are very encouraging, as they show genuine interest on the part of the students.

Once the CCP in New Haven is done, I'll be going through and making an evaluation of whether the program made any change in kids' English skills.

4/11/07 Session

The 4/11 session went very well. 10 kids, with several parents, attended. The specific focus of today's lesson was on small multi-comic arcs (mini-arcs, as I refer to them) of 2-3 pages.

I introduced some basic story planning by having the kids answer the six key questions (who, what, when, where, why, and how) before filling in the comics. This gave them an idea of what to write before they started.

Many kids tend to begin writing right off the bat, putting down whatever dialogue comes to mind. As a result, they often write themselves into a corner, reaching the end of the conversation before running out of space on the comic. It looks like this kind of planning worked, as none of them seemed to struggle.

The kids set a new record: 112 comics produced and collected. The previous record was set just last week (4/4/07) with 90 comics. The record before that had been 80 comics from the 12/6/06 session.

Next week is a vacation for all students in the area. Last time there was a break, CCP attendance hit a record 18. I'm expecting much the same here, maybe better, thanks to the recent publicity and the improving weather.

The lesson for next week will focus on Dr. McNinja, a comic I've shown a few students (in blank form). Several of them are really looking forward to it; ninjas are still one of those cultural icons of coolness that transcends generational gaps.

The Artists of the CCP

In additon to webcomics, I've also used comics and art created by members of DeviantArt. A lot of the art I use is fanart, based on shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender, Naruto, Sailor Moon, and Bleach. I use the fanart sparingly, mainly to help ease kids into a creative mindset by providing them with familiar images.

Artists who have been particularly helpful by either giving me permission or releasing their art for educational purposes:

John Su
Twin Enigma

I've also used art from Johane Matte (aka Rufftoon) and Jeffrey Anderson. All have proven popular with the students.

A New Comic Joins

David Willis of It's Walky! and Shortpacked! fame has given his blessing for the use of his comics in the CCP. Thanks!

Now to go to work creating more templates.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Comics of the CCP

The Create a Comic Project would be nothing without the webcomics and artists who have given it support. I feel especially grateful that, to date, no one has denied me permission to use their art.

The two most recent additions to the CCP are Tracy and Tristan and Something Like Life, who donated their archives in late March. Note that T&T hasn't been added to the Links page as I'm still waiting for a banner from Susan.

Those who didn't deny my request or have allowed themselves to be used for projects like this in the past:

The Adventures of Dr. McNinja
And Shine Heaven Now
Chugworth Academy
Dinosaur Comics
Faking Life
Ghastly's Ghastly Comic
Mac Hall
Okashina Okashi - Strange Candy
Penny Arcade
Questionable Content
Rob and Elliot
Something Like Life
Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki
Tracy and Tristan
Tsunami Channel
Venus Envy

I'm still waiting for word back on several comics, including MegaTokyo, Sluggy Freelance, Something Positive, Shortpacked!, and Apple Geeks.

Create a Comic Project Blog

Welcome to the new Create a Comic Project blog.

The purpose of the this blog is to talk about the week-to-week activities of the Create a Comic Project. Material on this blog will include: lessons I've learned about how to teach the CCP, what it is I'm teaching, anecdotes about the kids and individual sessions, facts and trivia about the CCP itself, and info on the first CCP from Taiwan.

I'll also be including my work towards creating the "Comic Making Tournament," the grand finale to the CCP here in New Haven. Additonally, I'm going to post additional pictures and videos of the CCP as I get them.

This blog is meant to serve as a first-person account of the Create a Comic Project, so that others can hopefully learn how to replicate its success in their own locality. Other information on the CCP can be found on the comic's FAQ and About pages. The CCP blog will be a current events supplement to those two pages.

My plan is to have these early posts be a summary of the events to date. Later posts will be more current.