Creating Comic Autobiographies

It is common practice at the beginning of professional development sessions for facilitators to ask participants to go around the table and introduce themselves. I decided not to do that at the top of our session, but instead to engage participants with the visual storytelling of comics as a means of introduction. I asked them to take the mini-lesson in comics nomenclature we had just experienced and use it to create a comic autobiography. They had approximately 20 minutes to create a visual narrative of their story. Some of them were visibly excited as they popped open the colored pencil box. Several proclaimed “But, I can’t draw!” – a common refrain uttered by adults and children alike when asked to create pictures. I proclaimed that everyone can draw and that the activity wasn’t about art, it was about symbols, lines, shapes, and stick figures. I refered them back to artist and educator Marek Bennett’s brilliant and basic “Cartoon Guide” (www.marekbennett.com) and they jumped in!

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