Zhiro and Dream Eater are having different opinions in how their bargain to awaken Mizha went.
Today was my second class on graphic novels at a local Middle School! Originally I thought I’d be doing just one presentation, but the teacher invited me as a guest lecturer for six separate sessions.
The first session we covered the practical nuts-and-bolts steps that I go through for making a comic. This session we talked about story structure, including the seven steps from Invisible Ink by Brian McDonald, which is also used by Pixar. We then applied it to an Aesop’s fable called the Fox and the Goat.
In the Fox and the Goat, a fox falls down a dry well and gets stuck there. The fox calls for help, but nobody hears him. Resigned to his fate, he talks to himself to pass the time. A goat hears the fox muttering to himself and curiously decides to investigate. Discovering the fox, the goat asks what the fox is doing in a well. “Oh! Didn’t you hear?” the fox replies, “There’s a drought. I’ve decided to claim all the water for myself. If you want any, you’ll have to come down here too.” The goat decides that the fox shouldn’t be the only one to have water, and leaps into the well. At which point the fox jumps on the goat’s back and out of the well, abandoning the goat to the fate that the fox just escaped.
I’m sure Garak and Bashir from Star Trek Deep Space Nine would have a grand old time picking THAT one apart. Where’s your smug, sanctimonious Federation morals NOW, my dear doctor?
Anyway, Once we’d identified each step, they were given a seven-panel template and asked to draw each step of the story in comic form. We encouraged them to be creative with their portrayals, since it was only the story beats that we were looking for, not the exact dialog. It was fascinating to see how each student interpreted things differently.
One decided to make it a PSA about playing PokemonGO and not paying attention — fantastically topical. Another did a mash-up with another fable, yielding the Tortoise and the Fox in a race that has a very different ending than the story with that speedy hare. Another put their focus on changing up the setting and style, placing the characters in a cactus-filled desert and making sure the fox was sporting a fine cowboy hat. Some kept with a more classic look, but focused on showing the action and minimizing the dialog. One chose some exceptionally creative camera angles, obscuring the fox from view and creating a mystery as to what exactly was down that dry well.
Each kid came up with something very different than the next. Amazing how unique they all were, even from the exact same starting material. Next week we’ll be talking about character motive, which I’m very excited to discuss with them and apply to their own stories.
It’s also been great to have some one-on-one conversations with the students. In the first class, one of the students asked me if I thought smudging (using a finger to blend pencil shading, rather than manually making the gradients with a pencil) was “cheating.” Did using that technique make a person “not a real artist?” Which, considering the rant I had on this exact topic a few weeks ago, I had quite a bit to say about!
I think my favorite moment was when I showed her my drawing hand. I pointed to the big, bulky callous I have on my finger from where my pencil rests.
“This is a callous I’ve gotten from drawing every single day,” I said, “I’ve put in the work. That’s what makes me a real artist. This is all the proof I need.”
“Oh my gosh!” she replied, “I have one of those too!”
I guess that means we’re BOTH real artists after all!
What have you put in the work for in your life? What skill have you cultivated? Do you have any signs (callouses, scars, a house full of crocheted wonders, abs of steel, the constant faint odor of sawdust, an eclectic collection of mysterious objects) that prove that you’re REAL at what you do?