Comics Drawing for Tweens

Detail of Illustration by the Author

This is a segment from an end-of-semester presentation held by the New York City organization, I'Raise Girls & Boys. Due to the pandemic, this year's presentation was held remotely. The mission of this organization is to promote social well-being and skills development to children and youth in urban NYC communities. Permission was obtained from the parents of the students to publish this video.

Here's a scene recording the early stage of a large-scale, collaborative drawing. The small class size (six students in all) allows for more personalized instruction, and the instruction is provided more through demonstrations than through discussions. For this project we placed a large piece of wallpaper on the floor of the workspace. Using a carpenter's chalk line, the kids snapped a twelve-foot wide by 3-foot high grid. We then carried and mounted the wallpaper to the available area on the wall. In this snapshot one of the students is directing me to locate a certain point that appears in a small, preliminary sketch of the overall composition.

For this comics drawing class the only tool that’s needed is a pencil. The only material necessary is a piece of paper.

Aside from the practical study of sequential and narrative drawing methods this class provides valuable experiences related to the sometimes complex internal processes of producing visual works.

Many of us can probably remember drawing experiences where the actual traces of our marks on our papers didn’t always correspond to the visual ideas that we had in mind. We’d see something unexpected in our lines. A part of us would get upset by this discrepancy. A certain wave of negativity would jump in. We’d avoid opening ourselves up to these unexpected results. We’d see only a mistake, and for many of us it would close a certain emotional door.

In this class we try to cultivate an attitude of openness, and even curiosity, toward the imperfections of our work. We allow these imperfections to bring up new questions about the many different processes of visual communication. During the class, examples of figurative drawings throughout the world are presented as possible influences to the comics tradition.

Like all of the class offerings, this class is intended to be in-person. Remote classes are currently being offered as a response to the covid-19 pandemic. The challenge with remote classes is to convey a sense of the kind of physical movement that’s needed to create visual rhythms. These visual rhythms, in turn, can be used to support the stories that find their way into the comic books.