Brush writing & class end

In the final meetings of Calligraphy class, students tried a different tool and a different language: using brushes dipped in sumi ink, they recreated Chinese characters. (This book by Edoardo Fazzioli provided our source material.)

Students said brush writing was among their favorite class projects. I suspect this is due to the freedom this tool gives: the brush responds to pressure variations, so it is much easier to create flowing, organic-looking lines as compared to a broad-edged pen. The unlined, large-format paper and our unfamiliarity with the characters allowed us all to loosen up and have fun.

Among our other final class projects, students created original stencils and painted them onto t-shirts:


This was fun, but a real production: for the amount of time, effort and expense involved (and with only one adult in the room), t-shirt printing proved very ambitious for the 7-11 year-old age group, but I think it could be a perfect project to do with parents at home.

Students used their lettering skills on advertisements and the brochure for the end-of-session show:


At the last class, I asked students to imagine themselves many years from now as 8th graders: what did they think they would remember about calligraphy? One response stood out: “to slow down and take your time to enjoy writing.” Well put!


Recommended reading

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

New Favorites
“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.

True Stories
“Sisters,” Raina Telgemeier
“Drama,” Raina Telgemeier
* “Smile,” Raina Telgemeier
* “El Deafo,” Cece Bell
* “Roller Girl,” Victoria Jamieson
* “Real Friends,” Shannon Hale & LeUyen Pham

IMG_7663.jpgNewer selections.
IMG_8216.jpgAn old classic that still gets many smiles and exclamations of recognition.