What can parents do to encourage their children to keep making comics? I think it’s important for grown-ups to make comics together with the children in their lives, and fill their bookshelves with good comics.
Collaborative comic-making can be very simple: a few years ago the author and dad Bruce Brooks explained to me how he and his son drew a collaborative epic comic story on a roll of white butcher paper, taking turns panel-by-panel. For a more structured approach to drawing comics together, a few books may be useful: Mark Kistler, who I have written about before, distilled his engaging way of teaching drawing skills to children in his book, “Mark Kistlerʼs Draw Squad” (cheaply and easily found for sale online). This fall a parent recommended “Adventures in Cartooning” and the “Adventures in Cartooning Activity Book” by Alexis Frederick-Frost, Andrew Arnold, and James Sturm—both books introduce the basic mechanics of comics to young readers and give them the chance to test them out. All three books are rich with material and well thought out.
Below is a list of books that have been popular with this year’s Comic Book Storytelling students. An asterisk (*) denotes a widespread favorite. Please note: while I think all of the books below have some value, not all will appeal to everyone. Parents should also note that some of these stories directly deal with intense issues like friendship, or death. For this reason I highly recommend visiting a seeking out comics at a local library, where books can be browsed and specialists are present to answer specific questions.
* “Calvin and Hobbes” series, Bill Watterson
“The Far Side” collections, Gary Larson
“Tintin” series, Hergé
“Moomin” series, Tove Jansson
* “Bone” series, Jeff Smith
“Astro Boy” series, Osamu Tezuka
“Little Vampire,” Joann Sfar
“Ghosts,” Raina Telgemeier
“Lumberjanes” series, Shannon Watters et al.
“Nimona,” Noelle Stevenson
“Hilo” series, Judd Winick
“Chi’s Sweet Home” series, Kanata Konami
* “Amulet” series, Kazu Kibuishi
“Zita the Spacegirl” series, Ben Hatke
* “Hilda” series, Luke Pearson
“Bird & Squirrel” series, James Burks
“My Little Pony” series, Katie Cook et al.
“Sisters,” Raina Telgemeier
“Drama,” Raina Telgemeier
* “Smile,” Raina Telgemeier
* “El Deafo,” Cece Bell
* “Roller Girl,” Victoria Jamieson
* “Real Friends,” Shannon Hale & LeUyen Pham