Friday, August 31, 2007

Another Big Name Joins the CCP!

Phil Foglio have endorsed the CCP by offering the archives of Girl Genius for use in the CCP! With so many big names in webcomics lending a hand, I think the next CCP will be its greatest so far!

T. Campbell Approved!

I've long been a fan of T. Campbell's work. "Fans!" was among the first webcomics to catch my attention and I stuck with it until the end. Campbell himself is also one of the top luminaries in the field of webcomics, standing side-by-side with Scott McCloud in terms of general knowledge.

So it's with great pleasure that I can announce Campbell has given me permission to use his entire body of work in the CCP, including Fans!, Penny & Aggie, and Rip & Terri (I'd also use Divalicious!, but since that's technically owned by TokyoPop, I don't want to risk offending them).

No Pink Ponies Joins the CCP!

I've been working on getting more webcomics involved in the CCP before I launch it's third incarnation here in Pittsburgh. No Pink Ponies is the latest to agree to participate.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lil' Formers Joins the CCP!

A new webcomic has granted me permission to use them in the CCP: Lil' Formers by Matt Moylan! I'll use his comics in my planned 1 year anniversary CCP one-shot, currently scheduled for sometime in December.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Comic Project ROC: October, November

The final two months have been added to the archives: October and November. After a wait of over 2 years, all of the original CCP comics are finally online.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Comic Project ROC: July, August, September

The theme of trios continues: July, August, and September have been added. There are now over 300 ROC comics in the archives. Only 2 more months remain.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Comic Project ROC: April, May, June

Another three month update to the ROC archives: April, May, and June. There are now a full year's worth of ROC comics.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Comic Project ROC: Janurary, February, and March

Three more months have been added to the CCP archives: January, February, and March. This has now doubled the total number of comics available.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Comic Making Tournament Part 4: Conclusion

This is the fourth part of a series on the CMT. Part 1 is here, part 2 is here, and part 3 is here.

Long-form Pre-drawn

By the end of the short-form original event, my time in the program room was over. So I moved everyone up to the Children's Library to use the activity room there. Jordan and Stephen had to leave at this point, which left four kids: Zenon, Sabir, Junee, and Esther.

For the long-form pre-drawn, I used multipage arcs from Krakow and QC. Esther decided not to participate due to the difficulty, leaving three contestants even.

Junee came in first, with Zenon second and Sabir third.

Long-form Original

The theme for this event was "gaining superpowers." I'd thought it would be simple, but Junee found it so difficult that she dropped from the event, leaving only Zenon and Sabir to compete. Both struggled, though Zenon was able to use her greater creativity to edge out Sabir to win the event.


Speed was the most fun of all the events! I had originally only allotted 20 minutes for it, but everyone enjoyed it so much that I allowed it to go on twice that long. All four - Zenon, Junee, Esther, and Sabir - participated.

One trick I use was a "quality multiplier," so that quantity would be multiplied by overall creativity in making the set of comics. This encouraged the kids to right more than "Hi" over and over again (even though this is what Zenon did to a large extent).

Sabir managed to win, even though he produced the fewest comics, by filling each out with quick jokes. Junee came in second, though several of hers were just lists of her friends and random words. Zenon was third, since she'd only written "Hi" on many of her comics, costing her the multiplier score. Esther quit halfway, so she came in fourth.


Even though Jordan and Stephen had to leave, they'd both earned prizes. I set aside several of the items for them. Their parents came by and picked them up.

The remaining four got the best prizes and were able to select them. The first step was to tally the point totals from the first four events to determine the overall winners (thus rewarding those who participated more). Then, awards were given to those who'd won first place in the five events, then second place, and then a round table distribution with everyone picking over what was left.

Thanks to her strong showing in three of the four events, Zenon won overall first place, with Sabir a close second and Junee third. All of them got a large number of gift certificates, plus books, comics, and other items.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of the award ceremony. This is something I will remember with future CMT's.

Sessions vs. Workshops

(Note: Below is a post that I had intended to release back in June. However, I just found out that Blogger had kept it in draft form, so it never went online. I'm posting it publicly now.)

One of the advantages of doing the Create a Comic Project in two venues was that it gave me a chance to reach a broader population of kids, in turn giving me a better idea of how to craft the CCP to be appealing and informative. It's also interesting the differences between the two locations: the original CCP sessions at the New Haven library and the workshops at the Dixwell-Yale Community Learning Center.

I think the students in the workshops were generally older, probably due to the population being serviced by the DYCLC. The New Haven library mostly had events aimed at young kids (0-6 years), with the CCP being one of the few aimed at elementary kids. As a result, the kids who became aware of the CCP tended to be the slightly older siblings of very young children and usually weren't older than 12.

DYCLC was mainly geared to elementary and high school kids, so those who attended the workshops tended to be from that group. As a result, I had many more teens than I ever saw at the library. This was further caused by the presence of the High Meadow School, which is an educational facility for troubled teens.

Another difference is diversity: the library had a much more diverse population than the DYCLC. The key here was again the target population. The library serves the entire city, while DYCLC is intended mainly for the those in the Dixwell neighborhood of New Haven. The Dixwell neighborhood is predominantly African-American, so the students at the workshops were, as well. At the library, I arguably had equal numbers of Asian and African-American students, with a few whites and Hispanics.

Another difference was family involvement. Parents tended to accompany their children more often at the library than at the DYCLC. The library wasn't in walking distance of most schools, so students generally needed transportation from their parents to attend. Also, the Children's Room of the library generally encouraged parents to take part in all activities. The DYCLC, on the other hand, was more an extension of school itself. Parents tended to drop their kids off and let them go on their own. In general, children with their parents attending tended to perform better and focus more on the activity at hand.

The school a child attended seemed to matter more than either race or gender in terms of their grammatical skill. I noticed that children who attended normal public schools in New Haven did not write as well as those in New Haven's magnet schools or who were from public schools of other towns.

Comic Project ROC November & December

After a brief break while I worked on another CCP related project, the November and December ROC comics have been added to the archives. This finishes 2005.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Comic Making Tournament Part 3: Beginning

This is the third part in a series on the CMT. You can find part 1 here and part 2 here.

The day of the event, I went in an hour early to start setting things up. Two library volunteers had agreed to be judges: Brad and Lydia (you can see pictures of them in the Tournament Gallery). I gave them the judging forms so they could read up on scoring procedures.

Next, I organized the prizes. The Yale Bookstore dropped off their donations in the morning, so I added them to the pile. Prizes were split into large, medium, and small. Small prizes would be given to everyone, large prizes for the first place winners, and mediums for those who came in 2nd and 3rd.

I also ran some last minute photocopying, printing out template copies for the Speed event, and getting the themes ready in the Can of Inspiration. I then went into the Program Room, setting up the tables and chairs as needed, as well as my camera.


At 11 AM, when the tournament was supposed to start, only a few kids were there. So I handed out a few warm-up comics for them to work on as I waited for more people. This also gave a chance for the new kids to get used to using pre-drawn templates.


For the opening intro to the Comic Making Tournament, you can view the video here. The tournament started with four kids, with more joining later on.

Short-form Pre-drawn

The first event had the lightest participation, with only four kids. One of the three was Jordan, a regular at the Dixwell-Yale Community Learning Center workshops. The other two - Sabir and Stephen - were new. The fourth, Michelle, bowed out after her mom realized she was too young and hadn't learned enough about sentences to compete.

I used Krakow, Penny Arcade, Rob and Elliot, SGVY, Shortpacked, and Something Like Life for templates.

In the end, Stephen came in first, earning a major prize, with Jordan second and Sabir third.

Short-form Original

This event had the highest level of participation, with six kids in all. Three more kids joined the remaining three at this point: Zenon, who had been with the CCP's main session since its beginning; Junee, who had come to the last DYCLC workshop; and Esther, Junee's younger sister.

Junee came in first, with Jordan and Zenon tied for second, and everyone else tied for third.

Comic Project ROC September & October

September and October 2005 Taiwan comics have been added to the archives. Check them out!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Comic Project ROC Update

Another month's worth of comics from the ROC version of the CCP have been added to the archives.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Create a Comic Project ROC

After a long delay, I have finally begun to add the comics from the very first CCP. While comics made here in the US have been labeled "Create a Comic Project," these are being grouped with the title "Create a Comic Project ROC" to denote their overseas origin.

These comics are backdated to begin in July 2005 and will run up to the previous starting point of November 2006. (I should've done this last month during the CCP's second anniversary, but oh well.)

I will be adding them a month at a time to the archives until they're complete. I've also included occasional commentary on the first CCP. The first month is all the CCP comics that have been posted elswhere (that is, Strange Candy). Following months will be new material, never seen before.

With this addition, I'm also considering improving the site's navigation, since simply clicking through the months doesn't seem adequate anymore.

Fanart Update

More fanart has been added to the Fanart Page. That's all of it for now.

FAQ Update

The FAQ has been updated. It now included questions about the tournament and some changes to other questions.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Comic Making Tournament Part 2: Structure

This is the second part of my multipart Comic Making Tournament series. Part 1 is here.

As I worked on collecting prizes, advertising, and other logistics, I also thought about the structure of the tournament itself. I needed events of varying difficulty to appeal to all ages, but simple enough to be run single handedly. I also wanted to make sure that both original and pre-drawn templates would be equally represented, so kids who liked one or the other could enjoy themselves.

In the end, I came up with five main events, plus three variants designed for groups:

1. Short-form Pre-drawn - The simplest. Individual students are given a handful of pre-drawn comics to fill out. Each comic is standalone and with content based on a theme drawn at random.

2. Short-form Original - Students are given one of each of the blank templates (2x2, 2x3, 2x4) and fill them out in turn. Each comic is given a different theme.

3. Long-form Pre-drawn - Students have to write several multipage story arcs using a group of related pre-drawn templates. Each different arc is given a theme.

4. Long-form Original - Using 2x3 blank templates, students create a single multipage story arc based on a given theme. The arcs can be as long as they want.

5. Speed - Kids are given a stack of pre-drawn templates and have to fill them out as quickly as possible. Quantity over quality!

Short-form pre-drawn and the two long-form events were also setup as group events, where a team of kids could compete against another team. In the end, no one registered as a team, so only the five main events took place.

With the events finalized, I also turned to how to judge them. I need a quantitative way for the judges to rank each student. I took inspiration from Iron Chef's scoring method. The criterion were:

1. Creativity, used for all five events. This was generally weighted more than spelling or art quality, to reward imagination even when skills were lacking.

2. Use of Topic, used for the first four.

3. Spelling and Grammar, used for the two Pre-drawn competitions. This was intended to encourage kids to use more than just simple words or sentences. I setup the scoring matrix so that a kid who attempted to write a lot but made mistakes would still get mroe points than someone who wrote perfectly but only a little.

4. Artistic quality, used for the two Original events. This was meant to differentiate between stick figures and finely drawn figures.

5. Quantity, used heavily only for Speed. Since the point of speed was to see how many comics a kid could create in a set time, this made sense.

Each criterion was given a point scale with precise definitions, to ensure uniform measuring by the judges.

I was anticipating a high number of students, so mechanisms to handle high turnout were put in place. Three-person/team tiers were to be used, with the winners of each tier then facing each other. This would allow multiple runnings of the same event to be held at once. And as the winners of a tier faced off, the others could continue on to the next event. Actual participation was small enough that these more complicated procedures didn't have to be implemented. But I'm keeping them in mind for future tournaments that may be larger.

Fanart Section

I've added a new section to the website: fanart. This fanart is largely generated by the Spamusement forum, where they started a "Make Your Own Comic" based on the CCP. I'm going to feature their work here as thanks.

Creative Commons License

Previously, the students' original comics were in the public domain. I've now changed that to a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. This will keep someone from selling the art and make sure the children are credited for their work.

Templates Update

Five more Strange Candy templates have been added to the Templates Page.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Comic Making Tournament Part 1: Planning

Finally, my multipart summary of the Comic Making Tournament begins.

The idea for the tournament came to me around March 2007, when I found out I'd have to move in the summer to a new city. I felt that the CCP had become big enough that it shouldn't just end. It deserved a finale of sorts, something entertaining and grand.

The basic concept was simple: a full day version of a Create a Comic Project session with kids competing against each other. It would be a way for them to demonstrate the skills they'd learned during the CCP and reward them for attending regularly. At the same time, it'd be open to everyone so that the whole community could enjoy it.

This presented the first issue with designing the tournament: how to convince kids to spend hours in a tournament. Simply earning bragging rights wouldn't be sufficient incentive in all likelihood. Prizes were the logical solution; to get them I turned to local businesses for help.

It still amazes me how readily the people I asked for help were willing to provide materials. The local comic book store - Alternate Universe - had already been helping advertise the CCP with a flier in their window. They quickly agreed to provide stuff for the kids come tournament time.

Next, I approached a used book store, the Book Trader Cafe. The owner gave me $50 worth of books and gift certificates on the spot. I was very pleased, to say the least!

The good fortunate continued, with over half of the companies I asked for help agreeing to provide me with things. This included the Yale Bookstore, New Haven Reads Book Bank, Hull's Art Supplies, and Yale University itself! Those who turned me down had down so because they'd already used up their charitable donation budget (basically, tax breaks only go so far in making it beneficial to donate stuff).

Still, in all, I'd managed to acquire enough prizes to suit the needs of the tournament. And all I'd had to do was ask.

With prizes secured, I then turned to the other logistical issues: location, timing, and advertising. Fortunately, the New Haven Library had a large Program Room able to hold dozens of people. I quickly reserved the room for use. For timing, I scheduled the tournament on the only Saturday between my graduation and moving.

Advertising did not go as smoothly. I created a flier and registration form for the tournament. These were then distributed to all my CCP students. However, a series of mishaps at the New Haven Library forced the cancellation of several CCP sessions, meaning I wasn't able to get the fliers to as many students as I was counting on.

Fortunately, the Dixwell-Yale Community Learning Center mailed the forms to their 300 member mailing list. Unfortunately, the DYCLC was also holding a very popular soap box derby on the same day, which drew away many of the students from that area. Additionally, summer soccer had begun, reducing the audience at the DYCLC workshops and further decreasing those who got the fliers.

Looking back I should have done more than count on fliers. A librarian had told me about a radio station aimed at New Haven youth. I should have taken the time to record an ad for them to get exposure via the airwaves. Also, I should've created a CCP mailing list for the main session, which would've allowed me to contact past participants about the CMT directly.

With future tournaments, I'll definitely work on correcting these shortcomings.