Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Comics Join!

Three more comics have joined the CCP! The first two are World of Orenda and Chaos Punks, both involving Scott Hedlund, a local Pittsburgh cartoonist who is also going to be providing art for use in National Public Health Week.

The third was recently voted the Best Webcomic of 2007 by Broken Frontier: Dreamland Chronicles by Scott Sava! This is another major addition, as it provides a good example of high quality CG art being used in a comic.

Monday, January 28, 2008

National Public Health Week 2

Preparation for National Public Health Week (NPHW) continues. The Center for Public Health Practice has agreed to lend a hand by offering printing and photocopying services. Two more off-campus venues have signed on for three total; I'm working on contacting two others.

I'll be reaching out to faculty Wednesday to encourage them to volunteer. A meeting with the various organizations will take place later on so I can start coordinating with them.

Current plan for the use of the Create a Comic Project: every student who takes part in the program will make at least one comic under the CCP banner. Each comic will then be collected and organized by school. The comics will be put on poster boards and then given back to the schools to display.

Each poster board will have the current public health slogan - "This is public health" - plus info on both the GSPH and the CCP. This way, the posters serve multiple purposes: increasing the recognition for public health, promoting the GSPH, and promoting the CCP. And by collecting them first and then later delivering the posters, I'll have the chance to photocopy and scan the comics first so they can be shared later on.

One nice feature that'll come from working with the University of Pittsburgh is that I'll be using their release/permission forms, sent to all parents. In addition to having the typical "you can't sue us for blah blah blah" material, the forms will allow me to take pictures and videos of the event and post them here. So expect plenty of updates to the gallery from this.

Fanart Update

Two pieces of fanart added to the gallery: another by Robert Mennell and the second by Oportet.

Bryan Wong, one of the comic creators who's lent assistance to the CCP, recently did his own take on the CCP at Anime Los Angeles: Finish-A-Comic Competition. A con-wide version of the CCP has been lurking in the back of my mind for a few months; I may give it a try later on.

Remember, if you make a comic of your own and want me to post it, feel free to send it to me by email.

Friday, January 18, 2008

National Public Health Week

Student government had its first meeting today. I've been appointed head of organizing student events for National Public Health Week (April 7 - 13, 2008), giving me the ability to represent the University of Pittsburgh in an official capacity.

The current plan: have students organizations and faculty put together presentations for local school children. Couple these presentations with activities designed by various people, including myself. The Create a Comic Project will feature prominently in all these events. I'll be using it in Module form, as it'll be using comics to teach climate change, not to teach about comics themselves.

Locations for the events will be off-campus; I already have one venue confirmed and am working on adding more. Schools will be asked to bring their classes to the events during the school day. By varying the locations so they're in different neighborhoods, more schools will be in walking/busing distance, increasing the likelihood of their participation. I'll be working with faculty who have connections with Pittsburgh's school system.

The more schools participate, the more teachers will be made aware of the comic project. It'll be up to me to ensure that the encounter is a positive one. With luck, I can use this opportunity to craft a CCP classroom outreach program. That would be a tremendous step forward to the project's development as a major youth literacy program.

Monday, January 14, 2008

3/13 Workshop

After some talks with the Braddock Carnegie Library, a date and time for a CCP workshops has been determined: Thursday, March 13, at 4 PM. There may even be two depending on turn out. I'll be sending them a flier to help advertise the event.

March is shaping up to be a busy month for the CCP. The current schedule:

Saturday, March 8 - Comic Making Tournament 2
Monday, March 10 - Workshop at the Human Services Center
Thursday, March 13 - Workshop at the Braddock Carnegie Library

My plan is to prepare everything for the tournament first, getting as many templates as possible ready for the competition. Then I can use those materials again for the workshops.

April may also be eventful, as the current plan is to have the CCP work alongside the University of Pittsburgh to put on a series of events during National Public Health Week, April 7 - 13. The theme is climate change, which gives me a lot of material to work with when it comes to designing activities. Presentations will be made by students (and maybe faculty), with the CCP Module providing interactive features. More on that as it develops.

Friday, January 11, 2008

"Starting a Webcomic" Article List

Amy Quinn sent me a link to this article over at the Virtual Hosting blog. It has a number of links to good resources on fonts, getting started, and publicity. I particularly liked several of the "how to make" articles - it's always good to see how others portray the creative process.

Guest Comic and Fanart

Daisy is Dead recently posted a CCP guest comic. It's all about parametric vs. non-parametric.

Oportet posted a piece of CCP fanart on DevArt. Check it out!

Monday, January 7, 2008

8-Bit Theater Joins

One comic art type has been noticeably absent from the comic project: sprite comics. However, that absence has now been corrected with the addition of what is arguably the best sprite comic currently online (it's also the first one I started reading regularly): 8-Bit Theater by Brian Clevinger.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

College Roomies From Hell Joins!

Another big name in comics has joined the Create a Comic Project: College Roomies From Hell!!! by Maritza Campos.

When I first started reading webcomics back a number of years ago, CRFH was one of my first. I had discovered it via the now defunct "Bad Boys of Computer Science." I remember staying up late into the night reading the archives. Now I can use a comic that's amused me greatly over the years to help educate kids. Count me a happy educator!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Gallery Update

A few more images have been added to the Misc. Gallery: three fliers that will be used to advertise the second Comic Making Tournament and a scan of the Children's Museum flier they used to advertise the 12/29 Workshop. I have similar documents from the New Haven Public Library; I'll try to find those and scan them in, too.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

3/10 Workshop

I recently checked in with the Human Services Center. Construction there is going on much longer than predicted (it was supposed to already be over). According to them, it should be done by February. So I've arranged with them to hold a workshop there Monday March 10, 2 days after the Tournament and during my spring break. Plans to teach a 10-week summer program there in July remains unchanged.

I've also talked to the Braddock Carnegie Library/Community Center. They think the CCP will be an excellent fit and want to schedule a workshop for later in January. More info on that as it develops. It'll be nice teaching in a library again!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2007 In Review, Part 2

Now let's look at how the CCP sessions did during the course of their twenty-some meetings. I tracked both the number of comics collected and the averages over time:

Graph 1 shows how many comics were collected with each session, a rough approximation of attendance. Graph 2 monitors the average number of comics made per session. Each point on the line takes the total number of comics collected divided by the number of sessions up to that point.

The first session - 11/29/06 - was more typical of the early days of the CCP than the second (12/6/06). Attendance early on was small due to the holidays and poor weather of January and February. As a result, the average comics produced per session tended to be between 30 and 40.

March and April (sessions 13 - 20) were the best months. Several factors came together at this time: articles on the CCP were published in the New Haven Advocate and New Haven Register, the weather had warmed but outdoor activities (such as intramural sports) hadn't begun, and school was still in session. This two months produced so many comics that the average comics per session rose to their highest points since the very beginning.

During this period the CCP acquired a new set of regular attendees who were very committed to learning and practicing. Among them was Krystal, who wrote the two Shortpacked guest comics. There was also a 6-year old girl who could read and write several years ahead of her level.

May (21 - 24) should have been better overall, as the month had 4 sessions scheduled (there could have been 5, but I had to travel in the middle of the month), but 2 sessions were canceled. Session 21 (5/2/07) was canceled due to a water main break that ruined the Children's Department. Session 23 was canceled due to an unexpected party that the library's founders had. There were comics collected on those days only because a couple students gave me comics they'd brought home to work on.

Another consequence of the canceled sessions is that the session following one that's canceled will always tend to have poor attendance. Session 22 (5/10), for example, only had 4 children. I'd observed this tendency twice before: session 8 (1/24/07) and session 11 (2/21/07), both of which occurred after the session before was canceled.

Session 8 has the record as producing the fewest comics, as I only had 2 students. In that case, it was a combination of the previous canceled session and bad weather that week. Session 11 fared better: 2/14 had been canceled because of a burst pipe (the same pipe that would act up again in May), so when the Children's Department reopened there were many parents who wanted to get their kids back there.

Another few data points that indicated that May is also a good month for the CCP are the numbers from the workshops I held at Dixwell-Yale. The 4 workshops had an impressive overall average of 95 comics per meeting, with the first two producing ~120 comics each.

However, there was a downward trend that grew worse as June approached. This was due to decreasing attendance because of intramural sports: given the choice between soccer or comics, kids choose soccer. The beginning of summer is also when families take vacations as children get out of school. This implies that had the CCP at the library continued into the summer, the upward trend of March and April would likely not have lasted.

It should be possible to get around this summer trend by partnering with a summer program, such as the 10-week program at the Human Services Center. They have guaranteed attendance, as opposed to the library where it was limited to whoever walked in. It'd be interesting to have a regular weekly session at a library while also doing a summer program and comparing the results.

Winter tends to have low attendance due to the holidays and weather, spring tends to bring high attendance, while summer can be mixed. I don't yet have experience teaching regularly during the fall, which I'm hoping to rectify in 2008.

Fanart Update

Two pieces have been added to the Fanart page: one by Leo Walters and another by Robert Mennell.

If you want to make some CCP fanart, you can use any template on the Templates page, add some text, and then email it to me: createacomic at NOSPAM gmail dot com. Feel free to create your own templates, but try to get permission, first.