Sunday, April 27, 2008

Cons, Links, and Recent Developments

I'll be attending Otakon 2008 this August. I'm not going to be a guest, just a regular attendee. Many thanks to Erin Ptah who's helping me out with accommodations.

The Traveling Otaku (Totaku for short), who designed the CCP's new logo, has posted about it over at Tsunami Channel. TC was one of the early comics I used, based on my own involvement with it and the artist's willingness to let others "remix" his art.

In other news, two groups have gotten in touch with me and expressed interest in working with the project's school outreach programs. The first are the Freedom Activists. They're a non-partisan group originally brought together in support of Congressman Ron Paul. Their members include Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, etc. They're interested in cooperating with the CCP to create modules based around the free market, the Constitution, US history, and other topics. I'll be working with an artist they have as a member to make materials for these modules.

The other group is Pitt's Chinese graduate student group. There's a strong interest among them to combat the anti-China stereotypes that many school children fall victim to. With their help, the CCP may soon have modules related to Chinese history & culture, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and more. I still need to work out the details with them, but it has excellent potential, especially given their ties to the Pittsburgh Chinese community.

More on the development of these modules later.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

4/15/08 Module Images Part 2

The Module Gallery has been updated with the rest of the images from the 4/15 Module. these pictures were taken at Northview Elementary after the students returned from the Children's Museum. They were tasked with creating public health comic books based on what they'd learned.

Overall, the event was a success, though some communication errors kept it from being as well organized as it could have been. I'll do a better job next time with running something like this. Still, 200 some students working together in teams to create their own comics? That's the kind of positive impact I've always intended the Create a Comic Project to have.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

4/15/08 Module Images Part 1

The Module Gallery has been updated with the first batch of photos taken from the 4/15 Module. These are all the pictures from the Children's Museum part of the trip. Early shots are of the students arriving and of the GSPH volunteers. Later shots are at the exhibit I was stationed at, which was based on circles.

Normally, I would've gotten pictures of all 9 groups going through my station, but due to the late start caused by the bus company foul up, only 4 groups had time to visit this part of the museum. Part 2 will have the photos from when the kids returned to Northview to begin work on their comic books.

I've also made a small change to every page: clicking the CCP banner will now take you back to the front page. That should help make navigation a little easier.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The New CCP Logo!

The Create a Comic Project now has an official logo (before it was just some colorful Anime Ace font). The logo will be going on all official CCP documents and merchandise, such as the informational fliers I'll be distributing to Pittsburgh schools.

I've redone all the banners on the Links page so they all have the new logo. The main title on the front page has also been redone. I'm also tempted to get a friend of mine to draw a couple comics starring that little guy in the middle. He will likely become the official CCP mascot.

Many thanks to Marc Keller, a.k.a. The Traveling Otaku, for designing this for me. If you need a logo for your own project, I highly recommend him.

Friday, April 18, 2008

4/10/08 Module Images

The Module Gallery has been updated with 42 pictures from the 4/10 module. If you ever wondered what 100+ kids all creating comics simultaneously looked like, here's your answer. This is definitely an experience I'll be working on replicating at other Pittsburgh schools next year when I begin the CCP's school outreach phase.

4/15/08 CCP Module: Template Breakdown

A list of comics used in the 4/15 Module:

And Shine Heaven Now
Chugworth Academy
College Roomies From Hell
Diesel Sweeties
Dreamland Chronicles
Freshman 15
Lil Mell
Little Dee
Okashina Okashi
Penny Arcade
Planet Karen
Sluggy Freelance
Three Panel Soul
Tracy and Tristan
Venus Envy
World of Orenda

One thing that differentiates the 4/15 Module from the 4/10 is that the comics were made in two phases: kids created comics in the Children's Museum as they toured the exhibits and later when they returned to school. So far, I've only sorted through the ones made at the school, which were all hand drawn originals using the newer blank templates. I can definitely say that this module has produced the most original comics of any CCP event, including the two tournaments.

4/10/08 CCP Module: Template Breakdown

No numbers for the 4/10 or 4/15 modules just yet (I'm still sorting through them). However, here's a list of the comics I used for the 4/10 module:

Awkward Zombie
Coffee Achievers
Diesel Sweeties
Lil' Mell
No Pink Ponies
Okashina Okashi
Piled Higher and Deeper
Planet Karen
Questionable Content
Skin Horse

The 4/10 module was split into 2 groups: the first with Grades 3 and 4 and the second with the remaining 4th graders and Grade 5. Each child was given 2 comics: one 4 panel and one longer comic (6 - 8 panels).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

4/10 & 4/15 Module Reports

A mostly qualitative post for now, as I'm still busy with school work. The numbers and further details will come later. Executive summary: both modules went well!

The first module (4/10) took place in Northview Elementary as a prep for a field trip. ~175 kids participated, setting a new record for the CCP. Pictures will be posted soon.

Two very good things to come from this. First, the CCP has been invited back to Northview next year to give its stand alone workshops. This was thanks to the strong positive reaction the students had. The CCP was praised for being a flexible activity with strong educational value. The teachers of the autism program were especially impressed with how their students responded (many thanks to Robert Anke for first piloting it among that group). One teacher took a few extra comics for use as an in-class activity later on, which was a high compliment.

Second, the CCP has been asked to join in the Fatherhood Initiative, which works on promoting activities that can help fathers work with their young children. The CCP can achieve this by having a Pre-K child (4-6 years old) work on the comic as their father helps them. Participation in this program will give the CCP access to some 100 sites across Pittsburgh - including other schools.

The second module (4/15) was a result of a public health-focused field trip sponsored by four organizations: Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH), the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH), the Create a Comic Project, and the host for the event, the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.

This marked the second time the Children's Museum has hosted the Create a Comic Project (the first was the 12/29/07 Workshop). The museum allows institutions like GSPH to create "custom field trips," meaning that the CCP has now not just held a workshop there, but has now been a part of a major museum event! Pictures and video will be posted soon, thanks to the wonder of photorelease forms.

A quick summary of the trip: 200 students from Northview (Grades 3 - 5) were brought to the museum, where volunteers from GSPH, using resources from ASPH, led them around the museum and used its exhibits to tie into the idea of public health. The CCP was used as an interactive photovoice activity to allow the kids to put the concepts they learned into their own words. Comics were created in the museum itself and later when the students returned to their school, with some 36 teams producing comic books of their own to compete for prizes.

The second module ran into some bumps because the busing company that was supposed to bring the kids to the museum at 10 AM failed to fulfill their end of the bargain, forcing the school to get another bus company and delaying the start of the event by over an hour. So of the three events with comics tied to them, one was scrapped entirely and not all the groups were able to do the other two. Fortunately, the other aspects of the trip succeeded thanks to the hard work of museum staff and GSPH volunteers.

The Children's Museum has expressed strong interest in doing a field trip like this again with GSPH and the Create a Comic Project. This means the CCP is in a strong position to become a regular fixture at the museum through GSPH sponsored events. This, combined with the CCP's newly acquired status as a school outreach program, is sure to propel the comic project a lot further in Pittsburgh.

As one of the people at GSPH told me, once you have a big educational event with one public school under your belt, it becomes much easier to attract other schools into working with you. Now I get to put that to the test!

Monday, April 7, 2008

4/15/08 CCP Module

I'm very busy with school work and project preparations, so this blog may be largely neglected for a couple weeks. There will be a Create a Comic Module next Tuesday. Like the one this Thursday, the theme will be public health and is part of the ASPH Award I won a couple months back.

The 4/10 and 4/15 Modules will both be very large, with a little under 200 children each. Given that the previous modules back in November and December were done with around 80-90 students, this is a big step up. The two modules are being done in cooperation with the Pitt Graduate School of Public Health, Northview Height Elementary, ASPH, and another sponsor to be named later.

The current plan is that the 4/15 Module will involve kids creating full blown comic books on public health, which will be collected and published in dead tree format for everyone to enjoy. More info on that as details are worked out.

Pictures and videos of both modules will be posted. Northview Heights uses a blanket permission form that every parent signs at the beginning of the school year. It allows guest speakers like myself to take photos and videos and post them online at our discretion. I wish more schools used that kind of system! Very convenient.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

4/10/08 CCP Module

Just a quick note: there'll be a CCP module run next Thursday, 4/10, at Northview Elementary. This is part of the ASPH award I won in February.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ron Paul Endorses the CCP

In a stunning move, 2008 Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul has endorsed the Create a Comic Project (CCP). "The CCP is an excellent institution," said the Texas Congressman and OBGYN. "Great for parties! In fact, I'd join any party that had the CCP involved!"

When asked for specific reasons why he was endorsing the comic project, Dr. Paul pointed to his experience with children. "I've delivered more babies than there are people in Rhode Island. I know what kids like. And the fact there's no tax payer money involved makes it even better!"

Congressman Paul went on to connect the endorsement to his policy stances. "Here we have one guy volunteering to teach kids. Imagine if we expanded that concept to everything! We already have a volunteer military, why not a volunteer health care system? Just have people walk in, do an operation, and walk out. Think of how strong the dollar will be if we're not wasting it on what people will do for free!"

Create a Comic Project founder John Baird was only quoted as saying, "Paul is a hoopy frood who really knows where his towel is."

And a hearty April Fool's to you all!