Do your kids like comics?
Ok, that’s a silly question. Do your kids like to draw comics? Maybe they’re already experts at it, or maybe they need a little push in the right direction. Either way, I’ve got just the perfect book for you: the Adventures in Cartooning Activity Book.
This is actually a companion to Adventures in Cartooning, sort of a kids’ version of Understanding Comics. Like Scott McCloud’s seminal work, Adventures in Cartooning tells how comics work by way of a comic, this time with a knight, a horse, a dragon and a magic elf. It’s all done in a doodled style which is really cute and easy to read. The Activity Book notches up the interactivity. Instead of just reading about the knight’s adventures, your budding artist gets pages to fill in—drawing food for Edward the horse, filling in sound effects, learning how to use dust clouds and motion lines to show somebody running fast.
The story is pretty funny, too, with a cookie monster, a giant, robots and the knight’s solution for making the rain stop; the magic elf comes along to give pointers about how comics work. At the end there’s a review of cartooning tools, and then 14 pages of blank panels for geeklings to draw their own comics.
I received a review copy of the Adventures in Cartooning Activity Book, and my six-year-old read it through twice while we were on the way to lunch. She couldn’t wait to get back home so she could grab her pencil and start doodling—I didn’t even get to read it myself until later. She hasn’t finished filling in all the pages yet (and has yet to draw her own comic at the back), but she loved both the story and being able to complete the drawings herself.
Adventures in Cartooning is published by First Second Books. The three creators — James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost — hail from the Center for Cartoon Studies, a school in Vermont where you can study (and make) comics! I may need to look into that … after my kids go to college.
You can read an excerpt from Adventures in Cartooning to get a feel for the style of illustration and sense of humor. I loved the book, and I’m hoping my daughter gets a chance to meet James Sturm when we hit Comic-Con next week.
Wired: Draw comics to complete a silly cartoon story, and then use what you’ve learned to create your own mini comic book.
Tired: My only complaint is that it’s over too quickly — but hopefully by then your kids will be filling notebooks with their own cartoons.
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of the Activity Book.