How to create a graphic novel as a kid

It’s not all KAPOW! and THWACK! – graphic novels are a great way to inspire students of all ages and abilities about English literature and language

Graphic novels can be a brilliant way of bringing reluctant readers to literature. Photograph: Alamy

Graphic novels can be a brilliant way of bringing reluctant readers to literature. Photograph: Alamy

If anyone ever needed a lesson on graphic novels, it’s the publisher who told Stan Lee: “That is the worst idea I’ve ever heard. People hate spiders, you can’t call a book Spiderman.” As you may have heard, that idea ended up working out quite well for Mr Lee who, at 93, is the god of the graphic novel and created The Incredible Hulk, The Fantastic Four and Iron Man.

There can be a bit of snobbery when it comes to using such texts in schools, but they can be a brilliant way of bringing literature to reluctant readers, and are particularly useful for those who don’t speak English as their first language. The more sophisticated examples contain the kind of complex themes and language (it’s not all KAPOW! and THWACK!) that will challenge even the highest-achieving students. And, of course, the books are beautiful to look at, combining illustration and text in a unique way.

If you’re still unconvinced, this article from the National Council of Teachers of English puts forward a strong case and this presentation looks at ways to use graphic novels to teach the classics such as Little Women, Frankenstein and a surprisingly muscular Macbeth.

Primary

Take younger students on a journey through the many worlds of graphic novels with this list of recommended examples for primary classes from Bookspace. This includes Tintin, Asterix and the intriguing Sardine in Outer Space (which has an online activity pack (pdf) available to print).

Graphic novel techniques can also be used to complement texts that students are already reading, like this resource pack on Roald Dahl’s The Twits from TeachIt Primary. It asks pupils to illustrate key events from each chapter, such as the dark and brilliant move of making Mrs Twit think she is shrinking by gluing bits of wood to the bottom of her walking stick.

The next step is to get your classes creating their own comic books. This guide from Sarah McIntyre, illustrator of Vern and Lettuce and Morris the Mankiest Monster, talks students through the professional process – from coming up with characters and adventures, to using Photoshop. This guide and collection of top tips, also from TeachIt Primary, takes your class through a practice exercise before dreaming up their own pieces.

Get your students to create their characters using this How to draw . characters guide from Jacqueline Wilson, which details the author’s long process of drafting and redrafting. If you want to follow Stan Lee’s example and design superheroes, this guide explains the importance of exaggeration, costumes and a cool name. Or, if you want to get a bit more high-tech, this online comic creator lets pupils create their own colourful graphic novels using drag-and-drop tools. And for a creative homework task, try this printable “Adventures in Cartooning” activity book (pdf).

Once your class has mastered the skills of the graphic novel, they can use them to explore any area of the curriculum. Twinkl has blank comic book templates of different sizes available to print. Studying history? Get students to render key moments in graphic form. Looking at geography? See if they can make rocks into characters. For science, this resource book guides students through creating a comic that explores the heart and circulatory system.

Secondary

There are endless ways to use graphic novels in secondary classrooms, as this list (pdf) explains. The suggestions cover key literacy skills such as summarising, sequencing and predicting, as well as more inventive tasks such as holding a graphic novel tea party. This poster from the Scottish Book Trust explores the features of graphic novels and would work well as a handout at the beginning of the unit.

But which text should you go for? The Book Trust recommends some trusty favourites and interesting newbies, from The Savage, David Almond’s exploration of grief, to the Manga Shakespeare series, which includes Romeo and Juliet, Othello and other curriculum stalwarts (and provides an excellent introduction to the Bard for those with lower literacy levels).

This project-based resource from TeachIt sets students the task of researching the history of comics, sourcing examples of different types and analysing the common attributes of the books’ heroes, before creating their own.

For older pupils, this Ted talk from Michael Chaney, a professor of English at a US university, explores the complexities of the graphic novel form and how caricature and distortion are used to convey messages in a coded manner – an interesting cross-curricular topic for art and literature. Chaney includes two examples that are now considered classics and make for rich study for key stages 3 and 4: Maus and Persepolis.

Art Spiegelman’s Maus tells the story of his father’s survival in Auschwitz concentration camp, mice representing the Jews and cats the Nazi guards. These discussion questions guide students through the book, and this collection of teaching resources includes an interview with Spiegelman on the creation of Maus and the enormous impact its had since it was published in 1986.

Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis looks at the Iranian revolution through the eyes of a young girl, offering a wealth of learning in history, religious studies and politics. This resource bank contains historical background, language analysis, discussion questions and lots of other useful study links.

Finally, get your class to harness the power of the graphic novel to explore issues they feel strongly about with this workshop on grassroots comic campaigning from Cafod which guides them through the process of conceiving and creating their own issue-based comic. Happy sketching!

by Tori Carle · Published July 10, 2020 · Updated July 10, 2020

Marvel and Scholastic are teaming up to create graphic novels for young readers. In Spring 2021, a new Miles Morales story within the Spider-Verse is being released just for middle school readers.

How to create a graphic novel as a kid

Graphic Novels for Reluctant Readers

Parents, do you have a reluctant reader? Get excited. Since Scholastic and Marvel teamed up earlier this year on superhero-based novels, they’ve reported a surging demand for more Marvel stories.

As a kid that didn’t like to read until middle school, I would have loved stories like this. These graphic novels might be what moves you from fighting reading battles to finding the open book and flashlight next to your sleeping tween or teen.

How to create a graphic novel as a kid

Miles Morales: Shock Waves

In a statement from Marvel, the new comic Miles Morales: Shock Waves promises to entertain and thrill new comic readers and veterans too. The story promises to be an action packed adventure!

A lovable teen from Brooklyn named Miles also happens to fight crime in his spare time as Spider-Man. In this new story, an earthquake ravages Puerto Rico–his mother’s home.

How to create a graphic novel as a kid

Miles jumps into action by starting a fundraiser. But that’s not all… the father of a new student goes missing. Ultimately, Miles needs to figure out a connection between his alter ego, the earthquake, a mega corporate fundraising sponsor.

More to Come from Marvel & Scholastic!

The lineup of graphic novels for young readers doesn’t stop with the Spider-Verse. Kamala Khan doubles as Ms. Marvel–a superfan and protege of her mentor, Captain Marvel.

How to create a graphic novel as a kid

Earlier this year, Marvel and Scholastic released Shuri: A Black Panther Novel, targeted at the same age group. It’s soon to be followed up by another story: Avengers Assembly: Orientation later this fall.

I might be (mostly) an adult, but it’s time for me to dive into more awesome Marvel stories in these novels, comics, and graphic novels! Who’s story are you looking forward to (or already know you’ll love) the most?

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Get that story out of your head and onto paper!

A guide to creating graphic novels- presented in the form of a graphic novel- from a veteran in the field!

In You Can Do a Graphic Novel, Barbara Slate guides aspiring graphic novelists through the same process she learned in her early days working for Marvel and DC Comics-a process she has simplified for the classes she te Get that story out of your head and onto paper!

A guide to creating graphic novels- presented in the form of a graphic novel- from a veteran in the field!

In You Can Do a Graphic Novel, Barbara Slate guides aspiring graphic novelists through the same process she learned in her early days working for Marvel and DC Comics-a process she has simplified for the classes she teaches and for the syndicated column she writes. Written in the form of a graphic novel itself, the book covers all the components and shows readers how to:

?Find their own drawing style regardless of ability

?Create memorable characters, compelling plots and subplots, and engaging dialog

?Traverse the graphic novel business

Get A Copy

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This book was alright. It’s pretty simplistic — I was surprised that the reviews are so over-the-top on Amazon. Of course, it is geared towards 7th grade and up but honestly, this might have appealed to me when I was 7 or 8. By the time I was in 7th grade I would have found it ever so slightly condescending. The writer seems to assume that the majority of graphic novels are made-up stories, but she does throw in Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor. Granted, the term “graphic novel” does imply fict This book was alright. It’s pretty simplistic — I was surprised that the reviews are so over-the-top on Amazon. Of course, it is geared towards 7th grade and up but honestly, this might have appealed to me when I was 7 or 8. By the time I was in 7th grade I would have found it ever so slightly condescending. The writer seems to assume that the majority of graphic novels are made-up stories, but she does throw in Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor. Granted, the term “graphic novel” does imply fiction, but “graphic autobiography” and “graphic history” seem a bit clumsy so it seems that “graphic novel” is the label for all such books.

The bit that I found insufferable was her frequent use of the word “boring”. There are stories that aren’t my usual genre (although I have from time to time waded out of my comfort zone to find a very good book) or stories that may not appeal to me because of excessive violence or whatnot, but I rarely find something boring. Indeed, aside from this review, I can’t even remember the last time I uttered the word.

Early in the book there is a line “everyone has a story” — maybe it’s my interest in biography and people’s “real” stories that makes me think of it more as that type of genre, but for the most part I found this book disappointing. . more

Years ago I read a bunch of How-To Do Comics books, most of those were a rip-off.

This book is good. I’m debating buying a copy or memorizing where it is in the Library. (Currently it’s in the Newest book section.) It’s not as good as Lurene Haines’ books on the Business of Comics, but it is helpful. This won’t be the among the first coupla books I recommend for Comics How-To, But it’ll be at the top of the next handful.

I hope a lot of people take this one out of the Libury (Library +Simsbury) Years ago I read a bunch of How-To Do Comics books, most of those were a rip-off.

This book is good. I’m debating buying a copy or memorizing where it is in the Library. (Currently it’s in the Newest book section.) It’s not as good as Lurene Haines’ books on the Business of Comics, but it is helpful. This won’t be the among the first coupla books I recommend for Comics How-To, But it’ll be at the top of the next handful.

I hope a lot of people take this one out of the Libury (Library +Simsbury). . more