Solution-Focused Comics Helping The Long Term Unemployed

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The ABC Comic Project helps long-term unemployed participants explore and uncover possible routes to employment or training through comic creation and solution-focused storytelling.

Created for Neighbourhoods That Work, a 5 year multi-agency project in Gt Yarmouth designed to improve community resilience, the ABC comic workshops demonstrate skills and techniques used by professionals to create amazing comic book stories and artwork whilst exploring the participants career & training options.

Aims and goals of the workshop

Using storytelling and comic drawing to explore and discuss each step on their journey with the workshop leader or others in the group could help uncover possible routes to your personal goals that could go undiscovered.

Using simple fill-in-the gaps worksheets we will create rough text and artwork for your comic panels – first focusing on describing your situation right now (the “Beginning” of your story), then we’ll leap forward to where you’d like to see yourself in the future (the “End” of your story).

Once you’ve chosen the Beginning and End of your story of the way we can focus on the most important bit – the middle of the comic!

The middle bit will describe a possible journey towards the story’s end – each panel showing a separate step towards fulfilling your final goal.

At the end of the workshop participants take away a few things;

  1. A clearer idea of what your own personal goals might be
  2. A better idea of how you might achieve those goals through simple, thought out steps
  3. A pretty cool piece of finished comic book artwork

Could creating comics help your organisation?

Comics are an amazing, accessible tool for:

  • Sharing stories and experiences
  • Exploring problems and issues
  • Having fun and boosting confidence!

Creating comics could be a valuable, enjoyable tool for your organisation – if you’d like to explore the possibilites get in touch!

 

Turning College Students Into A Comic Production Team

GY College Comic session

Essential Sequential are working with creative students at Great Yarmouth College to mould them into a comic publishing team that will draft, write, design and promote their own, original comic book!

All those taking part will gain invaluable experience of how the world of freelance creative work operates and improve employability – requiring a high level of teamwork and delegation, encouraging the development of “soft skills” such as time-keeping, discussion & debate, compromise and constructive criticism.

Fantastic, original comic stories and artwork

The project has been funded by EnterpriseGY and was launched at a major Comic Convention held in Great Yarmouth in November 2016.  The final comic will be on sale to the general public through multiple channels in Spring 2017.

GY-College-Comic-project

The end goals of this unique project is to provide a real-world experience of freelancing (working semi-autonomously to pre-agreed brief & deadline) to all of the students involved with the comic’s creation and sale, and to provide the launch pad for a new self-sustaining venture leading to an ongoing legacy of published material involving and linking communities.

[quote]”Students that are interested in animation, Photography and art will make the most of this project by including on their cv and in their portfolios leading to opportunities to progress to university and wider possibilities for employment. Work experience is at the heart of the course and is recognised as good practice by the college, universities and ofsted.” [/quote]
Matt Dale,
Course Leader for Art, Design & Photography at the college

Could creating comics help your organisation?

Often one of the first things we hear at our comic workshops is “I’m rubbish at drawing!”

We strive to show that creating comics is a process – a series of relatively simple tasks
The vast majority of these tasks do not depend on you being brilliant at drawing!

(And what’s to stop you just getting someone who is good at drawing to do that bit!)

Comics are an amazing, accessible tool for:

  • Sharing stories and experiences
  • Exploring problems and issues
  • Having fun and boosting confidence!

If you think that creating comics is something you’d like to explore or would be useful for your organisation get in touch!

 

Big Lottery Funded Project for 2017!

big lottery funded comic drawing project

‘Moving Ink’ is a year-long series of 24 creative workshops, working within flexible and accessible locations at the point of need;

The project will work with a minimum of 75 young people (aged between 16 to 24 years old) identified as being at risk of or who is currently NEET and having faced specific challenges in seeking to find meaningful employment or further education and training opportunities.

If you are interested in taking part in this project, either as an individual or as an organisation, please use the contact form at the bottom of this post or email the project leader (Stuart Paterson) directly.

Project Aims

Through participation the young people involved will demonstrate an increased understanding of and ability to apply functional skills and techniques that are based upon sequencing processes; (the process of having to do one job before it is possible to do another).

In order to achieve this aim the project will:

  • Involve and nurture young people through increasing participation in creative expression
  • Help build understanding, transferable skills and the confidence
  • Help participants critically interpret and articulate difficult circumstances and any others issues they may be struggling to manage.

The project is open to anyone who has been identified as being at risk of or who is currently NEET and having faced specific challenges in seeking to find meaningful employment or further education and training opportunities.

Project Delivery

The workshop sessions will be delivered through 6, 4 week programmes, and will support participants to develop their own story, write a script and produce colour artwork for a one page comic strip; stories are then combined to produce an alternative community-published work, that will be circulated via a range of community associations and venues.

The project will be delivered by creative professionals who have a proven ability of working positively with young people, and in helping to cultivate positive, supportive and creative environments that are community orientated and which feel locally owned.

By working within communities, the project will help to support participants to more easily translate learning into their local environments, and therefore be better prepared and more confident to take advantage of future opportunities as they arise.

The project will also seek to further develop collaborative working between social sector organisations, and related opportunities to provide mutual support, share resources and combine expertise to develop creative learning and employment pathways that can provide sustainable social and economic benefits for participants, their families and peers.

OPEN Youth Trust Disovery Day; April 2016

Following the success of the the comic drawing activities held at OPEN Youth trust as part of BBC Get Creative 2016, I returned a few weeks later to do a repeat performance!

Who attended the comic drawing workshop?

I set up two tables on the “Bridge” – an impressive walkway suspended twenty or so feet above OPEN’s main hall.  Before I’d even finished getting my equipment out I had a couple of young people eager to get started!

Just as with the BBC Get Creative event I brought along a range of activities that could be done in anything from 5 minutes whilst still communicating valuable techniques used in professional comic making.

By far the most popular activity were my Design-A-Superhero sheets – Just check out the gallery section below to see just some of the wild designs participants came up with!

Want to experience a Comic Creation Workshop yourself?

If you’re interested in attending one of my Comic Creation Workshops, or are considering hosting one an at your organisation go ahead and get in touch!

All necessary checks, policies and insurances are in place to ensure safety when working with children and vulnerable adults.

Workshop running time, features and price can be configured to suit your organisation or groups needs.

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BBC Get Creative Comic Workshop

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On April 2nd 2016 I had fantastic fun running a range of comic drawing activities at OPEN Youth Trust in Norwich city centre as part of the annual BBC Get Creative Event.

The event was great – the Get Creative team even asked me to write a post of my top comic making tips for the BBC website so well worth the effort!

It went so well I’ll be back there this weekend (Saturday 23rd April) doing it all again as part of the Discover OPEN event.

So if you’re any where near the OPEN on Saturday between 1:30 and 3:30pm drop by and have a go.  All ages welcome!

What made this event different from our usual comic workshops?

A normal Essential Sequential comic drawing workshop takes a group through the extraordinary process of creating a story and artwork for a comic – depending on the group this might take hours!

Because I only had 2 hours and participants may only dip in and out of the activities I needed to come up with things that someone might do for the whole 2 hours or just do for 10 minutes but still demonstrated some valuable comic making skills – a tall order!

This is what I came up with:

Design your own Super Hero

This proved very popular with younger comic lovers – they got to choose their male or female hero’s super power (and super weakness!) and then using a template draw their own fantastically costumed super hero.

Quick 3 panel comic strips

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This activity used a cut-down version of the random story generator system I use in my full workshops to quickly develop a comic told over three panels.

Practice your inking

Inking is an often overlooked and underrated part of the comic creation process – I brought along with me a range of black and white art (some drawn, some photographic) that, with the aid of some tracing paper and pens, can be turned in fabulous inked artwork.

Ready made comic creation kit

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Like the 3 panel comic strip, this activity allowed participants to quickly construct a comic story – but in this case they didn’t even have to do the drawing!

I supplied ready drawn panels of seemingly random characters and events to be cut out and stuck onto a template in whatever order makes sense to the creator.  The result can then be inked using tracing paper to create an original piece of comic book art!

Want to experience a Comic Creation Workshop yourself?

If you’re interested in attending one of my Comic Creation Workshops, or are considering hosting one an at your organisation go ahead and get in touch!

All necessary checks, policies and insurances are in place to ensure safety when working with children and vulnerable adults.

Workshop running time, features and price can be configured to suit your organisation or groups needs.

Connects & Co Young Carers Comic Workshop

Connects & Co is a Norwich based organisation working with young carers who live with the effects of terminal or long-term illness, disability, mental health issues and addiction within their family.

Who attended the comic drawing workshop?

There were 10 young carers involved in the workshop, aged between 6 and 15 – a couple of the team leaders couldn’t resist joining in too, so there was plenty of comic making going on!

How the Workshop went

The group was quiet and focussed for the most part, cracking through the different stages involved in creating their comic page efficiently and earnestly.

It’s always fascinating to see how different people treat similar subject matter – there were plenty of mad scientists and pop stars cropping up in the stories produced, but they were never treated the same!

Feedback from the artists

Here are just some of the comments left by artists on the workshop:

The bit I liked most was…

  • “When they all came to life”
  • “Learning new things”
  • “Drawing the comic in pencil”

What really struck you as interesting or surprising during this workshop?

  • “How much work goes into making a comic”

What part of the workshop was most useful to the way you work?

  • “Starting rough and then neatening”

Want to experience a Comic Creation Workshop yourself?

If you’re interested in attending one of my Comic Creation Workshops, or are considering hosting one an at your organisation go ahead and get in touch!

All necessary checks, policies and insurances are in place to ensure safety when working with children and vulnerable adults.

Workshop running time, features and price can be configured to suit your organisation or groups needs.

 

Fast Forward Project Comic Workshop

FastForward comic workshop

Following the success of the Comic Workshop at this year’s Latitude festival for Culture Works East I was contacted by Oliver Payne at Musical Keys (Both organisations are based in the same building!) who thought it would be a great fit for Fast Forward, a project Musical Keys runs in partnership with NANSA and the Open Youth Trust.

Who attended the comic drawing workshop?

Fast Forward is a series of activities being run over 12 months at OPEN, a brilliantly equipped venue in the centre of Norwich.  The project offers a range of activities for young people aged 11 to 25 on the “edge of disability services” – a good cross section of which attended the four weekly comic drawing sessions that I provided.

How the Workshop went

As you’d expect with a group of young people there was a lot of fun and energy during the workshops – manifesting itself at one point in the form of a impromptu rap battle on the relative merits of various first person perspective shoot-em-ups (I can’t recall which was deemed the victor).

A number of innovations took place in this series of workshops – I gave the artists the option of working in teams on multi-page stories (usually everyone creates their own one page story), so we ended up with a couple of 4 page stories which was great! 

With the help of Ian Brownlie, one of Musical Keys regular facilitators, one of the teams (one of whom is partially sighted) experimented with collage and photocopying to create a really exciting piece of post-apocalyptic fiction!

Feedback from the artists

Here are just some of the comments left by artists on the workshop:

What really struck you as interesting or surprising during this workshop?

  • “How many stages there was to creating a comic”
  • “I think how the story came along + planned”
  • “Everyone working together on a comic”

What is the one idea that you will use in future as a result of this workshop?

  • “Do not rush a drawing although there is many stages, it is about the perfection and drawing not the time it takes”
  • “I’ll trace some of my friend Amie’s pictures”

What part of the workshop was most useful to the way you work?

  • “Teamwork – creating a page each to do with the same story”
  • “Getting ideas from other people”

Want to experience a Comic Creation Workshop yourself?

If you’re interested in attending one of my Comic Creation Workshops, or are considering hosting one an at your organisation go ahead and get in touch!

DBS checks, policies and insurances are in place to ensure safety when working with children and vulnerable adults.

Workshop running time, features and price can be configured to suit your organisation or groups needs.

Mesh Youth Group October 2015

The Mesh Youth Group runs activities for children in Gorleston as part of facilites provided by Shrublands Youth and Adult Centre Charitable Trust.  I was invited to run a one day comic workshop in the autumn half term holiday.

Who attended the comic drawing workshop?

The group I worked with was a boisterous bunch of around 30 local children ranging in age from 6 to 12 years, some of whom were on the autistic spectrum.

How the Workshop went

The children were really enthusiastic about creating their own stories and were very interested in the process – every one of them produced a brilliant page to go in the final comic.

Working with a large group like this one can lead to some small delays whilst I frantically stick bits of paper to drawing boards but the children demonstrated great patience, many choosing to help others who were struggling with getting their story right or assisting me with photocopying.

Feedback from the artists

I was very pleased to receive a lovely thank you card and a marvelous caricature of me in full superhero get-up from the children!

Also during evaluation 80% of the children said what they’d learned during the workshop would help with their school work!

Want to experience a Comic Creation Workshop yourself?

If you’re interested in attending one of my Comic Creation Workshops, or are considering hosting one an at your organisation go ahead and get in touch!

UEA Creative Industries Day: Sept 2015

UEA buildings

I’m often popping in and out of UEA in my capacity as a mentor on their Young Enterprise Scheme, so it was great to spend a bit more time than usual on campus running a Comic Drawing Workshop as part of the University’s 2015 Creative Industries Day.

Who attended the comic drawing workshop?

The workshop was attended by a group of 12 dedicated comic-curious artists coming from a range of backgrounds – there were psychology, literature and history students, freshers, care workers and even someone from the Norwich University of Arts (No pressure then!).

How the Workshop went

The workshop was held in one of the amazing new rooms in the recently renovated student union building at UEA, which I believe is usually used as a dance studio fully equipped with a mirrored wall and a bar for practicing your Plié position (which I resisted).

As always some amazing work was produced and I was impressed by the level of concentration and commitment shown by all the artists – so much so I packed up a little bit late, causing the belly dancing group who’d booked the room after me to start a bit behind schedule (apologies!).

Feedback from the artists

After every workshop I ask everyone to complete a short evaluation sheet – Here are just some of the comments left.

What really struck you as interesting or surprising during this workshop?

  • “I liked the different stages that we went through to get to the final thing, esp the use of blue pencil.”
  • “Teaching me to actually plan out and prepare the story of my own”
  • “My ability to focus. Fascinating process”

What is the one idea that you will use in future as a result of this workshop?

  • “Trying comics that are only one page (I like that concept)”
  • “The sequence Stuart used to help us build our story kept the momentum going”
  • “The process was really concise and strong and will be really good for passing onto peers interested in comics”

What part of the workshop was most useful to the way you work?

  • “Interesting tips on materials you can use and books to read!”
  • “Ideas realisation is really hard, so the story planning was both a challenge and a satisfying way of coming up with ideas”
  • “The freeform ideas thing, getting to figure out our own story with some helpful starters”

Want to experience a Comic Creation Workshop yourself?

If you’re interested in attending one of my Comic Creation Workshops, or are considering hosting one an at your organisation go ahead and get in touch!

All necessary checks, policies and insurances are in place to ensure safety when working with children and vulnerable adults.

Workshop running time, features and price can be configured to suit your organisation or groups needs.

Latitude 2015 Comic Drawing Workshop

Kids area at Latitude 2015

A few months ago I was very kindly asked by Culture Works East to run a series of comic creation workshops at the Latitude festival 2015.

I’d be working alongside video and animation production professionals, DJ and music makers and a fully stocked fashion studio tent (which my daughter was very taken with!) – so it was hardly a surprise that I was quick to accept the invitation to join them.

Creating comics in a tent

The goal of the the workshop was that each artist should produce their own one-page comic strip by completed the following sequence of tasks:

  • Plan their story’s subject, characters and events
  • Write a script describing each panel’s pictures and words
  • Sketch and refine pencil drawings of their comic strip
  • Produce a final inked version of their comic page with text

Running a workshop at a busy open-air festival naturally brings with it issues which needed to be overcome.

As part of a busy schedule of activities meant the time frame for each workshop was very tight (around 2 hours) – and I had to work around the possibility of people dipping in and out.

I would be holding the workshop in a tent at the top of a rather steep hill so had to keep equipment down to a minimum – so everything needed to fit in a couple of boxes which could be strapped to a sack barrow!

The workshops I lead usually take a whole day, to achieve so much in such a short time frame meant I had to develop a few new processes to speed things up!

Introducing the Acme Random Story Generator

Being into comics, it should come as no surprise that I’m also no stranger to a board game, so I decided, in order to speed up the story creation process, we’d use dice to randomly generate the basic frame work of their story.

I designed a series of worksheet where, by rolling a normal 6 sided die, each artist is presented with the basic ingredients for their story:

  • Where and When the story happens
  • Who does the story feature (2 characters)
  • What Event happens to them

So, for example, you could be presented with a story which takes place in jungle (Where) at night (When), featuring a Super Hero (Person 1) and a Bus Driver (Person 2) when, suddenly, an alien invasion occurs (the Event).

Using those basic building blocks the artists can plan out the beginning, middle and end of their story, followed by a basic script describing what each panel of their comic would portray and what the characters would say.

I thought it was just me but apparently rolling a few dice makes everything more fun!

Drawing and Inking the comic

Once the script was done we started drawing – very roughly at first at A5.  Just like the Barrington Farm workshop, The initial pencil drawings were then photocopied and expanded to A4.

The expanded photocopy was taped to a drawing board, then tracing paper was taped over that.
Using a blue colouring pencil the artist was then ready to produce a drawing based on the rough sketch below the tracing paper in blue line.

The importance of the blue line is that it will be eliminated from the final picture in post production, leaving only the black ink that will be drawn over it.

The blue line version was then photocopied and inked using black pen – this final inked drawing was then scanned and saved ready for insertion in the final comic which is available to download now!

The end of a great weekend at Latitude

It was an absolute pleasure to work with people with such an avid interest in comics – sometimes it was a real struggle to stop chatting about our favourite characters and get down to the work in hand!

I‘m very grateful to Elli Chapman and Helen Stonely at Culture Works East for inviting me to join their team for this special event and look forward to doing plenty more with them in the future.

The final comic will soon be available for download at the Culture Works East website.