One of the great joys in my life is when I get to visit schools and libraries to talk with students about writing, drawing, and making comics. I loved it when guest authors and illustrators visited my schools! It was an education to see the creator’s work in person, and to be able to ask questions about creative processes. I love being on the other end now, where I’m able to encourage our youth to pursue their passions and to tell great stories.



One of my favorite comics projects to make with children and teens is Jason Shiga’s interactive comic. You start with a single sheet of 8.5×11″ paper and a pair of scissors, and you end up with a foldable comic with four different endings. It’s quite a feat that combines puzzles, comics and origami, and it’s always fascinating to see what students come up with. Here’s a video of Jason walking us through the process of making an interactive comic:


At yesterday’s comics workshop, we started out by brainstorming story ideas by listing animals, objects, places and foods on the whiteboard. We drew a line from “wolf” to “Sky City” and filled in the blanks. “What does a wolf have to do with Sky City? Does the wolf live in Sky City? Does the wolf like the vacation there?” We then drew another line from “wolf” to “sushi” and thought about their possible connections. “Does the wolf like to eat sushi? Does the wolf make sushi?”



I’ve learned that the when we are asked a question, our brains come up with answers, whether they are correct or not. This is a fun exercise for the students in using their imaginations. In brainstorming there are no right or wrong answers, there are just possibilities. Once we’ve noted our possibilities, we move on to picking the best possibilities.

The students decided that our she-wolf delivers sushi to Sky City. Just you try and tell me that’s not a story to be told!



At this point the students got to cut and fold their paper to make their comic template. They could choose to tell a story about one of their own characters, our sushi delivery wolf, or they could make up four different endings to their favorite book or movie.

It’s always exciting to see what students come up with. Some like to buddy up and divvy out the drawing and writing duties, while others spend the majority of the time on a single panel, making it as perfect as it can be. However they work, the results are priceless.

Students made comics about Nekotalia, Slender Man, Sushi Wolf, and their own characters.









Students interested in writing or illustration as a career always flip when I tell them about comics-maker, Emma T Capps. Emma is just 15 years old and has been publishing comics since she was 14. Her comics are available online, in print, and on mobile platforms, and her work has been printed in publications like Cicada, Creative Kids and Stone Soup Magazine. Emma was kind enough to send me a bundle of mini comics and pins to share with students and LTUE attendees, and now there are a handful of new Emma T Capps fans in the world!


Here’s Emma at work:


It’s incredible to watch students light up as they put their pencils to paper and begin to explore possibilities of story and character. There’s no doubt in my mind that the arts are an integral part of a proper education – especially when I can see and feel the passion and power that comes from the students themselves when they’re given permission to create. Our imagination allows us the unique ability to consider possibilities. When we can imagine something better, we can achieve something better.



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