Professor Garfield's Comics Lab
The Comics Lab is a non-traditional (also called FUN) exercise in which students can develop and refine their creative writing skills, while learning how to develop storylines or plots. Comic strips contain similar attributes to short stories, with a beginning, middle and end.
The Comics Lab aligns with the standards for the Language Arts. These standards can be found here.
There are 5 main components to the Comics Lab site:
- The Interactive Comic Creator
- Comic Strip Templates, where students can draw their own comic strips by hand
- Video instruction on writing
- Video art instructions
- Written instructions
Interactive Comic Creator: This section allows students to create a comic strip or series of comic strips in less than an hour. They can create custom characters of their choice and can also print their work and save it to the computer on which the comic was created.
Comic Strip Templates: These templates allow children to create hand-drawn comics and are located in the “Lesson” section of the Comics Lab. It is an ideal method for those students who do not have access to a computer at home. It allows children to express themselves in a more traditional written format.
Video Instructions on Writing: Jim Davis, Garfield’s creator, explains the fundamentals of creative writing. Where do ideas come from; how do you create something that’s funny; what do you do when you get “writer’s block”? These are just a few of the subjects that are covered.
Video Art Instruction: Jim Davis and a team of professional artists teach children the fundamentals of drawing. They break down complex artistic skills into simple, easy to learn, step-by-step methods that children can follow.
Written Instructions: This section is a recap of some of the material covered in the video lessons. It allows the instructor to give students various handouts for review and to use as reference material.
We encourage teachers to provide a common theme for the storyline students will be working on. By employing a common theme, children can share the various approaches they have taken with the development of their plot and can learn from each other.
Most students tend to start out creating a comic strip without adequate preparation and let the plot develop in a haphazard manner. It is important for the instructor to have the child think through the plot development in a structured manner. Do you write the punch line first…and then backup two frames to make a creative statement? Some of these questions and techniques are covered in the instructional videos.
Most important of all, let children discover that creative writing is a fun exercise they can enjoy.