Laura Richter, technology specialist at MSAD 54 excitedly called me into her room one day. I thought I was getting a new laptop or a new digital camera, the way she was acting. To my delight, Ms Richter arranged with Tami Kennedy to have Jay Piscopo, an artist/cartoonist visit my classroom. He was scheduled to come one full day and teach how he develops and creates a comic book!
In preparation for this event, I asked Laura what type of programs that SAMS (Skowhegan Middle School) has to create comics. She said that all the students have a program called “Comic Life” and proceed to guide me through this program. Fortunately, many of the students already know how to use it.
We started with a storyboard in which students would develop a character(s), plot, theme, and text. Once this was accomplished, they had an 8.5 x 11piece of paper folded to create 4 boxes, thus creating 4 panels with 4 drawings. Students used traditional drawing methods and watercolor to paint a storyboard.
Technology: Digital Camera and Laptops
Students used digital cameras to take a picture of their artwork. They took one picture at a time, and downloaded their pictures to their laptops using iPhoto. Then students learned to edit, enhance their settings, and manipulate the color. Every middle school student in Maine is equipped with a MLTI laptop. This enables students to work with their own materials and collaborate with each other within their group.
Comic Life Program:
Students use “Comic Life” a program that generates a comic book format. Their traditional watercolor paintings of their character is transferred to Comic Life. Students use their storyboard to create the plot. They learn about new text formats such as speech balloons, thought balloons. They learn to create sound with different style fonts and various artistic menus to enhance script and color. For the final process, they save the file and print in color, thus integrating traditional art with technology. The results even rival real comics books!
Guest cartoon artist, Jay Piscopo:
After much anticipation, Jay Piscopo and Tami Kennedy his publicist, visited SAMS. Ms. Lyon’s ER classes and exploratory art classes were combined to witness Jay’s demonstration. His pleasant personality, humor, and talent captured the attention of all. He started with simples shapes, and proceeded to use geometry and simple perspective in creating characters and environment. When Jay passed out his comic book Captain Eli, many were awed with his color and rendering of the human figure. It was surprising to know that a good percentage of the comic was done on a computer similar to our Comic Life program. It was wonderful to see and experience first hand, the integration of traditional art with technology.
We thank Tami Kennedy for providing links to women comic artist and for scheduling Jay’s appearance with us. His storyboard and other motivating ideas were a treat for the students.
Reading: Go to the following link to see how SAMS students are using literacy skills while reading the book. WebQuest Noteshare Notebook For Teachers
Teachers can find LESSONS to use with this graphic novel The Undersea Adventures of Capt'n Eli.