by Susan Stephenson, of The Book Chook.
Susan Stephenson is a writer who lives about as far east as you can go on Australia without falling off. She loves reading, writing and pretending to be a chicken. Susan shares her fascination in children’s literature, literacy and learning at The Book Chook.
Did you know there are online spaces that let us use their templates, art work and speech bubbles to create our own digital comics? Such a cool idea! Maybe I love them because my mum banned comics when I was growing up, and told me they’d rot my brain.
Brain rot hasn’t set in. Yet. I like to use comic makers or comic software to whip up a quick one-frame cartoon, perhaps as the centrepiece in a poster I’m making. Or I use a three-frame cartoon to tell a little story, or joke. Often I need an illustration for my blog, so I love to create one of my own. I use a comic maker for that too.
It’s probably a good idea to check with your parents before you use these sites, especially if you want to register and save your work.
Three Comic Makers to Try
Although there are a few differences, the procedure is pretty much the same at all the comic making sites. First you choose your basic template – 1, 2, 3 frames etc. Then you choose backgrounds. characters, objects. You choose speech or thought bubbles and add text to them.
MakeBeliefsComix is probably the simplest of the comic makers, and a great one to start on. Read more about it on my blog. http://www.thebookchook.com/2009/04/make-your-own-comic-at-makebeliefscomix.html
2. Toon Doo
Choose a template. Once the template is loaded, you’ll see a screen that has your untitled, empty cartoon on the right. On the left you will see:
*a Toon Doo “start here” menu with important functions
*a vertical row of icons that allow you to choose people, animals, props, backgrounds etc, and drag them to your template
*a horizontal row of tools at the bottom that help you make elements you’ve dragged smaller, larger, flip or rotate them etc.
Creaza has lots of universes to choose from, historical, fantasy and even manga like I used here. There’s a video that explains how to use the site. http://www.creazaeducation.com/cartoonist Or you can read a post I wrote about it on my blog. http://www.thebookchook.com/2009/06/cartoonist-sharing-stories-with.html
How to Start:
I usually get an idea first, then I go to the comic maker I think will help me generate a story from that idea. Sometimes I go and check out the characters, and my imagination takes over. Pretty soon a story idea is nudging my brain, waiting to be told. The great thing about creating online is that if it doesn’t work out, you can change things around.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to print out the blank comic templates, and add your own art work and speech bubbles. Or print out lots of your own digital comics and make them into a book. A comic or cartoon might even spark a whole story idea for you, one that needs you to create a short story or novel with just words. Creating comics online might be something you do just for fun when you have a spare ten minutes, or become the start of an absorbing pastime. It doesn’t matter how you use the comic makers – the great thing is you’re creating with words and pictures. And that’s cool!
Thanks Susan for a fabulous piece. These all sound like fantastic activities for comic storytellers.