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Comic Capers - A Comic Making Workshop: Whirlwind of Creativity & Storytelling at Sunnyside

Updated: Jul 8

To begin with, kids at Sunnyside have always doodled, in addition to illustrating their books and creating comic strips for their newsletters. Hence, a comic workshop did not really create a buzz, especially on a Ramadhan morning, where an extra nap is most preferred. The facilitator, Arun Ramkumar, rightly dressed for the workshop with the Peanuts comic strip T.shirt, patiently waited for all to assemble to get the session started. Little did we know at the beginning that this would be a journey of learning, creativity, imagination, and storytelling. I laud the facilitator for keeping everyone engaged and active throughout the session, which is not always easy.

The workshop started off with the etymology of ‘comic,’ tracing it back to the Greek and Latin origin of ‘Komicus’. Comics are stories told with pictures in series; a funny element adds a spin to them. Consequently, we discussed some of our favourite comics and comic characters, from Tintin, Asterix, The Simpsons, and Flintstones to my favourite, Phantom: The Ghost Who Walks.

Thence, it was interesting to note the particulars about the earliest comics from the early 1800s to recent ones, including but not limited to: The Yellow Kid, Mutt and Jeff, Pogo, Peanuts, DC and Marvel, Dennis the Menace, The Adventures of Calvin and Hobbes, Japanese Manga to the Indian Diamond and Indrajal comics, Tinkle, and Amar Chitra Katha.

Next, we explored the basic elements of creating a comic. From understanding how to create a character and keep it consistent and recognizable to brainstorming names, personalities and attributes, costumes, and emotions and expressions, including gestures and body language, we learned the technique to cartoonify everything using anthropomorphism and tried our hands at it. Furthermore, we learned how to write content keeping in mind the genre, environment, topic, humour style, and interaction between the characters. We grasped the details of panel layouts and character design, not to mention the composition, setup, and how to establish a scene, and end with a clever closure.

In addition, we progressed to humour techniques using extreme exaggeration, puns, sarcasm, irony, or just having fun. Even those with no prior experience in drawing did not feel apprehension after the above. The challenge of creating our own comic strip was embraced by all with enthusiasm.

The most delightful aspect was the freedom to explore our own creative instincts. The blank sheets of paper were filled with a myriad of shapes and stories to enthral and enliven the readers. Each participant meticulously crafted their characters based on their interests, adding an element of humour to it, with titles ranging from Hooked, Cube and crises, The tooth family, etc. The comics, intricately built with their backstory, were gratifying and a testimony to fulfilling our creativity. 

As every form of learning comes with its own challenges, we too stumbled with the writer’s block staring at a blank sheet of paper. The encouraging feedback given helped fine-tune the intricacies. At the end, it was time to celebrate the transformation of our stories. The workshop set us off on a journey that helped build our confidence in storytelling and artistic expression. We learned to reflect on our experiences and turn them into tales of adventure. At the end of the workshop, we had more than a collection of sketches and stories. We discovered an invaluable lesson: to create comics, the only limit is the unending expanse of our imagination.

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