Comic Resources: Reading and Designing

Like many of you, I am hunkering down at home for the time being.  While I’m not bored, I know a lot of people are probably struggling to adjust to this unexpected break from normal activities and keep themselves (or their kids) occupied.  I’ve seen a lot of suggestions that people use this time to start a hobby or learn a skill they’ve always wanted to try, so I thought I’d provide some reading and design resources for any comic book enthusiasts out there.

This is also a fun opportunity for me to dabble and doodle a little myself.  It’s been a while. 😊

strawberry

My first strawberry!

Want to Read a Comic? — Hoopla

This site is a great resource for reading comics.  Hoopla has a large collection of comics, ranging from newspaper comic collections to graphic novels by acclaimed authors and artists.  If you have a local library, check their website to see if you can gain free access to Hoopla through your library membership.

Hoopla’s interface works well with both laptops and cellphones.  If you double tap the screen on your phone while reading your comic, you can zoom in and scroll through the pages panel by panel so that the text is easy to read.

Want to Create a Comic?

idea springboard

Use reality as a springboard for your comic creativity.

Tip 1.  As with writing a regular book, start with what you know.  Consider what you can draw well and then think of a story that will incorporate these elements.  (See featured image for examples of how I applied this to my own sketches.  Leaves, trees, flowers, and simple animal shapes are what I’m comfortable drawing).  Try to choose a story that deals with topics, settings, or characters you are familiar with.  You can add fun or fantastical elements, but familiarity is often the best foundation for a story.

Tip 2.  If you’re uncomfortable committing to a design, practice drafting your art with a pen.  You can discard what you don’t like because this is just practice. Consider using scrap paper or the blank sides of used paper so that the pressure is off for you to maximize each page and you don’t feel bad about throwing your sketches away if they don’t turn out.  This is the brainstorming stage, the rough draft, so just relax and have fun!  You need to get your ideas down before you will have anything to work with.  Also, you won’t know what you like or dislike unless you explore a little first.  Try something new and see where it takes you.

Tip 3.  Vary the tools you use to figure out what suits your project’s style and your personal preference.  The beginning of a hobby or a project is the best time to explore your possibilities so that you don’t unwittingly limit yourself.  If you become hooked on the first medium you try (pen, pencil, charcoal, etc.), you may never discover that you really love something else even more.  This will also give you more tools in your artistic tool bag so you can adapt your medium to suit particular projects.

Additional Resources

Happy reading and drawing!

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Comics for Any Time of Year

Assorted FoxTrotAs a new year approaches in just a few hours, I wanted to share a collection of comics that is perfect for any season, from summer to winter and Christmas to Halloween.  Assorted FoxTrot by author and artist Bill Amend features the five-member Fox family.  While the scenario of three siblings, two often exasperated parents, and the travails of school, pranks, and modern life may sound like a rehash of so many family comic setups, FoxTrot brings a fun new perspective to this comic genre.  From cover to cover*, Assorted FoxTrot disperses fresh humor and is a perfect sampling of Amend’s comic strip.  To read the latest, check out the comic at its website, and be on the lookout for a more comprehensive review of the comic in the coming year.

*Literally.  At least in the edition I read, the front and back covers were designed like the packaging on a cereal box, with the characters as ingredients and details like serving size listed on the nutrition label.  Once I noticed the cover design, I thought it was rather clever.

Happy New Year!

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Abridged Classics

Abridged ClassicsIn concept, I like the idea of Abridged Classics, John Atkinson’s short, satirical summary of famous literature.  I am very fond of his web comic Wrong Hands, which I reviewed here, but Abridged Classics is missing many of the characteristics I enjoy on Wrong Hands.  What I like about Atkinson’s web comics are his puns, literary limericks, and creative ways of representing concepts from various disciplines, ranging from mathematics to philosophy.  These jokes are relatable and have a more light-hearted satirical style than Atkinson uses in Abridged Classics.

Because of the subject matter and approach Atkinson has chosen, his comic collection faces a lot of challenges.  Those who are fond of certain books may take offense at his offhand comments.  I have to admit, many of the jokes about books I love fall flat because I disagree with Atkinson’s perspective, and the few details he chooses to highlight marginalize the best aspects or the main point of the stories.  While this may be how satire is supposed to work, I did not find it all that enjoyable.  On the other hand, with the stories one hasn’t read or even heard of, the satire loses a lot of its effect because the jokes are only funny for those who have actually experienced the story or at least know the general plot.  I did laugh at a few of these (such as his summaries of Hemingway novels), but the majority left me confused and unamused.  One of the few situations in which Atkinson’s summaries are funny, at least for me, is when they make jokes about books I have read and disliked, which I am guessing is what other readers would find to be true as well.  After all, most of the jokes we laugh at are ones with which we agree, and because Atkinson’s humor often criticizes the texts, it will only be funny for audience members who don’t like the book or see the same flaws in it which Atkinson points out in his jokes.  I also think that these satirical comics might be more enjoyable in a less concentrated dose because the jokes become a bit tired after you’ve read 10 or 15 in a row.  Mixing in other types of comics might be a good solution to this, mimicking the variety Atkinson provides on his website.

If you are intrigued by the premise of this illustrated satire, you may want to give it a try and decide for yourself if Abridged Classics pulls off the task Atkinson set out to accomplish.  In the meantime, though, I think I will stick with his web comics and wait for him to write—and perhaps publish—additional word puns, literary limericks, and jokes about literature, math, philosophy, and more.

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Clever Cartoon Satire

being-there

For the lover of English and word puns

If you’re looking for some clever cartoons, I recommend trying out Wrong Hands by John Atkinson.  I recently discovered this site thanks to a college coworker.  The content of the cartoons ranges from word puns to literary limericks (which humorously summarize the plots of famous literature) to interactive games and commentaries on society and history.  Overall, the cartoons are satirical, but their cleverness makes even the less uplifting ones funny.  Atkinson’s puns and poking fun at famous literary works particularly tickle my fancy because I love reading, writing, and English.  To top it all off, the cartoons are colorful without being garish and have a simple, straightforward style which complements the humor.

For the avid yet critical Shakespeare fan:

literary-limericks-hamlet

For the math nerd:

as-x-approaches-infinity2

For the inner philosopher in everyone:

existentialism

…And the list is endless.  I think you’ll probably find something that makes you smile!

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Cartoons (in order of appearance) retrieved from: “Being There,” “Literary Limericks: Hamlet,” “As X Approaches Infinity,” and “Existentialism.”

PHD Humor

Created by a PHD student, PHD Humor gives a humorous look into the academic life. Discussing writing papers, Murphy’s law, eating Ramen, and many other topics that most college students on upward will find amusing, Jorge Cham weaves humor into the daily events taking place on a university campus. Great for a quick humorous jolt for your day.

Cheers!

Flint

Happy First Day of Spring!

For almost two years now, Flint, Bone, and I have been participating on a blog called Thousand Mile Walk with several other writers.  On the blog, we practice our writing skills so that we can grow and improve as writers.  We write essays, poems, short stories, reviews, and other types of compositions on a variety of topics.

Here are some articles from that blog which Flint and Bone have written related to comics.  My comments on some of the stories and movies I have watched and read are in italics.

Graphic Novels

Cardboard

Cardboard by Doug TenNapel – Flint examines the story, artwork, and worldview of a modern graphic novel written for middle grade boys.  This is a really creative book.

Ruse by Mark Waid – Flint reviews a captivating detective story reminiscent of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories.  I found this book to be well-written and well-illustrated.

Movies and Television

Arrow Season 3

Guardians of the Galaxy – Bone reviews the popular superhero movie released by Marvel.  Guardians is entertaining and lighthearted – even making fun of itself and the superhero movie genre at times.

Arrow – Flint takes a close look at the currently airing superhero television series which is already in its third season.  This is a captivating series where the characters wrestle with difficult questions about what true justice is and what differentiates villains from vigilantes. It’s a good watch for a discerning audience.

Webcomics

Speed Bump

Adam4D by Adam Ford – Flint reviews a digital webcomic that he discovered.

Speed Bump by Dave Coverly – Another comic that Flint found and reviewed.

A Tip for DrawingDrawing tip

Drawing” – Flint gives some pointers on how to improve one’s drawing skills.

I hope you enjoy!

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