Comics. How can something that looks like such a simple literary genre, carry so much weight? Comics hold the heavy task of pointing at many social, personal, national and political problems. But…. they can come in such a cute package! Getting students familiar with this genre can be a very fun task, and one that we should all undertake at some point. It’s an art to be able to talk about a legitimate issue, with an air of satire or comedy. Let’s show our kids that they can effect and create change in their world, through literature. If you want to teach your students comic strip writing, follow these simple steps below:
Comic Writing – Teaching Points
Keep it Short
Comics are meant to be concise depictions. It’s important to help kids see the importance of getting a message across, in a powerful way, but with few words. To be honest, a lot of kids actually love this about comics, because getting kids to write in detail can be like pulling teeth. The real key is to get kids to realize that, though their words are few, they need to pack a big message.
Speech bubbles are a common identifying feature of comics. They help keep dialogue organized and clear. It’s also common for comic writers to label their scenes with captions, so as to keep the reader in the loop. It’s important to help kids see that these bubbles and labels should have some organization, and their shape and colors can also be part of story telling. This can be done in a specific scene, or as an overall theme to the comic if the writer chooses this as a form of expression.
Make it catchy
As with all writing, we want to hook our readers. So it’s important to have our little comic writers choose a target audience, and then cater to them. For example, if they’re writing to their peers, then their style of writing would drastically change compared to writing for adults. Choosing an audience will help little writers shape their messaging. They can also learn common comic writing strategies such as the use of onomatopoeia to help garner their readers interest. Have students brainstorm which strategies they want to use to hook their readers.
Leave Some Things to the Imagination
Since comics are often concise, it’s common that some details are left to the imagination. This can be used to a writer’s advantage as it can be a tool for provoking conversation about their piece. The key is to do this artfully and strategically, as opposed to missing key details for comprehension. This concept is better discussed with older students, as it’s a fairly complex strategy.
Make Sure You Have a Message
Comics have long since been used as political and social commentary. Since they are short and easily read by many, comics remain a great way to get a message across. This can be done either by spelling the message outright, or leaving it unsaid but implied. Either way, comics with a moral or message are the most impactful.