Has there ever been an incident in your life that you believe shaped who you are today? Have you experienced something that you would like to share with the world? Or--have you just had something humorous, embarrassing, or even scary happen to you that you think would make for a good read? These were some questions students considered when first creating their autobiographical comics.
The purpose of this project was to allow youth artists to create comics that incorporate personal stories from the past, uncover issues they now face, and recall events that shaped them into the women who they are today. They did this in a style that is unlike traditional cartoons and comics such as superhero comics or those seen in the newspapers. As audiences we are accustomed to reading comics in newspapers and comic books that tell the adventures of some character. Our comics, like conventional comics, unfold very simply from frame to frame, but the tales being expressed in these alternative comics are personal stories told in unique visual styles.
To begin the Weaving a Yarn project we studied some examples of well-known artists–comic and otherwise–such as Mary Fleener, Keith Haring, Ida Applebroog, and the women in the Twisted Sister comics compilation book. With the help of these images, students were able to push their ideas into new comic formats. They experimented with transforming static figures into active poses and with cropping, framing, and black/white contrast. They cut out their initial rectangular panels and moved them around on the page, experimenting with various compositions, concretely visualizing the best way to get a story across. Using scratchboard, they created some panels with white line on black ground. These dark panels were the basis of playing with black and white contrast as an important element in developing dynamic compositions. The final format was glued into place—recognizing that “real” comics are created by revising and collaging together the best versions of various panels.
Read the compelling stories of these creative, sensitive and strong young women. Be inspired to use your artmaking and narrative skills to share your own stories.