In my childhood and youth, superheroes did not really feature: comic wise, I was raised on Donald Duck, Asterix, Isnogud, Lucky Luke, and Tintin. My kids share my love for these comics, but in addition, they are experts on all things Batman, with special attention for the various supervillains: They can spend what seems like hours discussing the strengths and deformities of the Joker, Two-Face, or Scarecrow, with my younger one constantly quizzing me about exactly which villain appears in which movie, what each villain looks like, etc. All they have seen so far is a bit of the animated Batman series for kids and some first-reader Batman books, but Batman clearly stimulates their imagination. So when we decided to draw a comic together, Batman was a natural choice.
Superhero comics make good drawing practice especially for anatomy: Kids can learn to sketch human bodies using circles for head and hands, an oblong for the torso, and ovals for the extremities. (In the case of superheroines and female supervillains, the drawing style found in pretty much all comics tends to exaggerate anatomy a bit more than a parent of two boys would wish for, but luckily they still prefer male heroes and villains, long may it last.)
My kids had been drawing superhero scenes for quite some time, but going from a single scene to a complete comic is difficult. So we decided to make a co-production in which we would work together at developing the story, translating it into comic panels, and drawing the comic.
The first step was to chose the villain and the come up with a plot. On that particular day, Bane was the villain of choice. For the plot, I had to step on the brakes: my kids were developing material for a whole comic book (“And then … and then … and then …”), but we needed to keep our first comic to two pages. I was determined to finish the whole thing in one session, while energy and motivation was high.
We finally settled on the simplest of story lines: Bane is robbing the Gotham central bank, Bruce Wayne sees the Bat-Symbol beckoning for help, dons his mask, speeds through Gotham in the Batmobile and confronts Bane. At first it seems that Bane overwhelms Batman, but in the last second, Batman manages to pull of Bane’s mask. In our version of the Batman universe, Bane cannot breathe without the mask and thus is beaten. Batman drives home again in the Batmobile.
Maybe not much of a story line, but manageable in two pages. The next step was to layout the panels, deciding what to show in each panel. We ended up with 13 panels. I drew them on two A3 pages and then cut out each panel so that we could work in parallel. Then it was just a matter of everybody picking a panel and drawing the scene we had decided on for that particular panel: I did three panels and one large sketch of Bane, the rest was done by the kids.
Things worked out really nicely. After less than two hours, all panels had been drawn and colored. The older kid did the little lettering there was. Then we glued the panels on two fresh A3 sheets, scanned the result, and printed our very own Batman comic. A good result for a morning’s “work”, I think. On the next rainy weekend, try it yourself with your kids!