Best suited to younger learners, creating cartoons and comics with a class is a task based learning approach to activating writing skills while promoting the extra-curricular skills of hand to eye coordination, team cooperation, time management and creativity. The duration of the task can vary from 10 minutes spent on a one-frame sketch to a magazine project lasting several months. There are many different approaches to managing such a project, and suggested syllabus for one short and one long project are as follows:
Example 1: 45 minute cartoon strip activity
Note: This activity may work well with an adult class by maximizing the discussion time and minimizing the sketch time.
- The teacher will need to collect a few cartoons which are stereotypical.
- Students need pencil and paper.
- The cartoons are displayed on the walls of the class and students go round looking at them choosing the most interesting/funniest/most accurate fo the stereotype etc.
- Feedback is a class discussion where students share their ideas and the teacher introduces the topic of stereotypes.
- The students then mindmap topics and the stereotypes commonly associated with them. For example:
|gender||men = strong; women = weak|
|religion||Christians = peaceful; Muslims = terrorists|
|social class||upper class = intelligent; lower class = stupid|
|nationalities||British = polite; Spanish = lazy|
- The students then choose a topic and a stereotype and thinks up a cartoon to humorously support or challenge the stereotype.
- Note: if students choose to support a stereotype, it may be worth discussing the impact that a facetious, inflammatory or offensive cartoon may have on a person whose demographic is negatively represented in it.
- The students create a rough draft of their cartoon strip, which must include dialogue or a caption. The teacher monitors, helping with ideas and corrections.
- Once the first drafts are ready, the students produce the final neat drafts.
- The class display their cartoons on the walls.
Example 2: 6-10 hour cartoon strip project
- Stage one: Study of types of cartoon characters e.g. heroes/heroines, villains, anti-heroes/heroines, protagonists, side characters/sidekicks, fools etc.
- Stage two: Students brainstorm and develop the chosen character(s) to feature in their cartoon, including the characters´...
- name & alias
- personality & appearance
- hobbies & interests
- achievements & experiences
- plans & ambitions
- fears & regrets
- hopes & dreams
- friendships & relationships
- Stage three: A look at a basic story structure:
- For example, this structure....
- Exposition: introduces and illustrates the characters, location, time, context & situation.
- Problem: presents an break in equilibrium which is to be overcome.
- Result of problem: lives are in danger and Clark feels responsible.
- Possible solution(s): present possible measure(s) to be taken to return to normality.
- Solution in action: shows the efforts to restore equilibrium.
- Conclusion: the final result or outcome of the story.
- ...represents this narrative:
- Exposition: Clark Kent is at the bank, waiting in line.
- Problem: thieves burst in and start a bank robbery but Clark cannot change into Superman with so many people present.
- Result of problem: Clark feels concerned about the lives at stake, yet also about keeping his secret safe.
- Possible solution: Clark looks around and notices the large windows the thieves are standing under...
- Solution in action: Clark zaps the windows with his laser eyes so they shatter and cover the thieves with glass. Everybody looks that way and he changes identity in a flash and out of sight. He then flies up to the window, all in a split second, and makes it look like he flew in through the window.
- Conclusion: Superman saves the day and Clark`s secret is kept safe.
- Stage four: The students mindmap and then develop the details of their own story narratives using the format studied.
- Stage five: A rough draft of the cartoon strip is produced in pencil to allow for any changes and corrections.
- Stage six:The final draft is produced.
- Stage seven:All the cartoon strips are collated and formed into a class magazine.
- Stage eight:The magazine is printed, distributed and exhibited (or even sold!).