Webcomics 101 Recap: Teaching The Teensby Caleb Goellner
Earlier this month I got to teach a webcomics class at the Olathe Public Library's temporary Indian Creek branch location. Fun fact: I worked for the OPL system for most of my youth and you can blame them, in part, for my comics addiction. Years later, as your friendly neighborhood GoComics Blog-Man, I was ready to impart some comics knowledge on a new generation.
A lot's changed since I worked at the library, of course. The OPL's Indian Creek Branch is currently in its second temporary location since a water main break flooded the original awhile back. The new facility was ready, though, with paper, pencils, rulers, and Sharpies aplenty on hand for comics-making magic.
I haven't taught a class or otherwise instructed kids in ages, so I didn't know what to expect. I thought they'd, I dunno, make fart noises and fly drones into the back of my head or whatever. Fortunately the kids -- mostly middle school-aged -- were all cool, curious and enthusiastic.
I ran the class through how professional webcomics creators make, publish, and share their comics with a short "Webcomics 101" presentation. The kids were engaged and asked a bunch of questions, which means they weren't totally put off by my sweet Powerpoint. After that, I demonstrated the comics creation process in action. I had them feed me story beat suggestions to create an improvised comic in real time. It involved a Disneyland daddy/daughter date gone wrong on a ride dubbed the "Cupcake Chuck Norris Tornado." Yes, you read that right. These kids were on fire.
From there, I had them show me what THEY could do. They all jammed out hilarious multipanel stories (with or without gags) in a matter of minutes. Their creativity made my year. One of the students even drew me (although they forgot my trademark scowl and eye roll)! They totally deserved the Fla-Vor-Ice Freeze Pops the librarian assistant brought them at the end.
I came to teach them, but the wound up schooling me. Kids are rad. For them, anything is possible. I hope I can teach another class sometime. In the meantime, though, I need to work harder to get on THEIR level.