St. Eanswyth’s Workshop – first week

(all images on this post are courtesy St. Eanswyth’s Primary)

St. Eanswyth’s is the third host school for the Mobile Comics Factory’s primary school workshops – providing lunch time workshops and an afternoon session with a small group of Key Stage 2 pupils.

The reaction to the lunch time workshops was crazy. We had upwards of 15 children engaging with the project – reading comics, drawing, learning to make zines – at any one moment.

This dynamic atmosphere was electric and it was great to see so many kids getting creative. I cannot wait to see what they produce over the coming weeks.

Following the lunch time session we had our first small group session. We started with some our favourite story telling games before the group made their very first zines in the form of a doodle book that they got to take home.

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Christ Church Workshops

With great books like ‘The Dead Dog‘ two issues of collected comics and a bunch of other publications, Pupils at Christ Church Primary can be really proud of what they achieved last term.

Every school has a unique culture and personality and it was a joy to find ways of working that complimented the environment at Christ Church. I loved the lunch time workshops. The pupils have an amazing sense of play and many children worked their engagement with the project into their play. Generally engagement levels were lower than I have experienced in other schools but I felt that those that did engage did so in interesting and generous ways: Often working inclusively with peers and sharing their stories and experiences through their drawing.

One of my favourite quotes from the workshops came from one child who made a comic out of the game he was playing with his friends. As he sketched he announced to everyone around “If I can just finish this comic, it will give me the power I need to defeat the zombies!”, before running away clutching his work.

We also ran a more in depth afternoon workshop with a select group of young people from year 5 and 6. I was privileged to spend this time with this group but due to circumstances we could not control – including absences, school trips and behavioural issues – we were not able to build up to creating any new publications but we were able to use the time to build their confidence and teach creative principles. It feels difficult to communicate just how valuable this is, and I hope that those in the group were able to take the experience back to the classroom with increased confidence.

I want to thank everyone at Christ Church for your generosity to the project and we cannot wait to work with you again.

THE DEAD DOG

The Mobile Comics factory is proud to present THE DEAD DOG. A new comic by Alfie from Christ Church Primary Academy in Folkestone.

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Alfie tells the poignant true story of the loss of a family pet in simple words matched with illustrations that  capture the emptiness that grief can create.

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Alfie conveys some very real emotions in his comics and has been able express himself through his work in a way that would perhaps be difficult without art. His comic makes me feel all the more proud to be running the Mobile Comics Factory, as he demonstrates in a very direct manner what we believe about the potential of creativity in kids lives. But at the same time I don’t feel as if I need to special plead for his work to show you how accomplished it is. The work speaks for itself. I was particularly moved by the last page of the comic, see below:

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This final image, unlike the previous panels has no words alongside it, and he also made the drawing much smaller, leaving a chasm of negative space that really makes the moment feel more real and conveys something of the infinite emptiness of moments of intense grief.

I have no doubt that Alfie was to a degree unconscious of how this composition would affect the reader but perhaps that only proves all the more how effectively the arts can express what is otherwise hard to articulate.

To find out more about the MCF including other new publications coming out and the dates of future workshops please find us on facebook and follow the blog.

 

Be Kind Zine

One of the joys of running this project is that not only do we get to facilitate original work through our workshops but we also provide a platform for artists and makers to expose their work to new audiences. This aspect of the project is at its most exciting when an envelope arrives unexpectedly addressed to the MCF. BE KIND is the first such submission of 2017.

The beautifully produced zine was the result of a 24 zine making project from People United, and collects stories, poems, and visual responses to the notion of kindness from the Canterbury area.

People United is a Canterbury arts charity that seeks to increase kindness in the world through the arts. 

BE KIND is not only a great addition to the MCF library but it is a lovely expression of the kinds of ideals that also sit at the core of the MCF.

We’re really grateful to People United for donating a copy of the zine.

To read the zine and browse a growing library of comics and publications find us at one of our public workshops (see calendar). And remember we’re always excited to receive new submissions.

Www.peopleunited.org.uk – external link

St. Mary’s Primary Workshops

We had an amazing term visiting St. Mary’s primary school for both lunch time workshops with key stage 2, and afternoon sessions with a small group of Year 6 boys.

The workshops generated lots of fantastic work including 2 volumes (and more than 24 pages) of a comics anthology which is still available from the Mobile Comics factory. These are great little volumes showcasing a range of styles and stories.

Also created were a whole bunch of mini-zines by individual participants including 6 that we selected and turned into printed publications to be distributed.

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I loved showcasing the work of individuals sharing their own ideas and unique perspectives. These were young people who really internalised what creative expression is about. Particular favourites were a zine about patterns, and a story we printed called ‘THE BIG PRINCE

Another published comic was ‘ORIGIN STORY’ made by the year 6 group and explained in detail here, Origin Story showcases some great ideas from 6 boys who collaborated to invent an original character and imagined his world.

I also want to mention ‘The Ultimate Book Of Monster Swapping’ designed by the year 6’s again this volume has been flying off the MCF and has been popular with everyone we’ve met. It features in the video below.

We loved our time at St. Mary’s and learned a lot about working with this age group. We look forward to visiting again. A huge thanks to all the staff who supported the project and a massive well done to the pupils who worked so hard – in their lunch times no less – to create amazing work for their community to enjoy.

 

ORIGIN STORY

We were privileged to work with a group of six year 6 boys at St. Mary’s Primary on an extended project teaching both the art of comics and principles of writing and storytelling. They produced lots of great work culminating in a vibrant comic entitled ORIGIN STORY.

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The boys looked at popular origin stories in super hero comics and we discussed how these stories gave context and motivation to otherwise peculiar characters.

Then, as a collaborative exercise, they came up with their own hero character. A GIANT ROBOT SAMURAI!

They were then tasked to each come up with an origin story for the character and we collected their interpretations in an 8 page A5 comic that also featured an A3 poster.

Download a PDF of the comic here. Please note that this PDF is designed to be printed and folded and pages will appear out of sequence when viewing digitally. Print the PDF double-sided in the landscape orientation.

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November has been a really busy time for the mobile comics factory. I haven’t posted on the blog for a while as a result and that is terrible because there has been so much news.

From upgrades to the mobile unit, to working in local school twice a week, to some fun new publications it has literally all been going on!

I will trickle out some stories in the coming week but I wanted to start with the photos below…

It has always been an aim of this project to get kids thinking about creativity, comics and culture in new ways. That is one of the reasons why we’ve always been proud to stock our library with artist made zines sitting alongside teenage mutant ninja turtles. One such artist zine by Philippa Wall became the source of some discussion one Friday lunchtime, when the factory visited a group of year 5 and 6 pupils at st Mary’s primary.

The pages of Philippa’s zine contain a precise pattern of coloured brush marks describing tonal gradients. Its ‘meaning’ not as accessible the more narrative lead comics around, so the question of ‘why’ quickly came up.

Rather than answer in any definite way (and I’m not sure I could have answered), I prompted a discussion of what the zine made them think about, what they thought it said. We also talked about if art needed to ‘say’ anything. Which is pretty heavy stuff for a lunchtime. Maybe the zine is just an experiment I posited.

It was a fun little discussion with a couple of the kids and when they walked away I thought nothing more of it. 

But I was delighted when one of them returned a few minutes later with what you see below. 

She told me “I made a zine, but my one isn’t colours, it’s patterns.”

It was so cool to see the ideas we discussed so quickly internalised and to see the work of the artists who have offered their zines having such a direct impact.

Workshop at FAMILY 

Our latest weekend workshop took place at FAMILY in Folkestone’s rendezvous street. 

FAMILY is a super venue, and it’s owners champion the same kinds of creative and DIY ideals the factory aims to share so it was a good fit in that sense. But more than that the venue created a really relaxed atmosphere with kids and young people coming into draw whilst parents chilled with a drink and listened to Jeremy’s awesome collection of vinyl.

This session was another all age affair, and though primarily conceived as a youth project I love that comics is able to cross boundaries and we had adults doing stuff, a group of young people, and kids and parents. That really speaks to the power of drawing I reckon. However the star of the show was without a doubt Ernest, the days youngest participant, who forewent more traditional materials to draw on the crockery. (See pic)

I’m really excited to put together everyone’s work into a new publication. That will be available from the MCF soon.