Get Your Pupils Writing Comics

Last week, Doon Academy welcomed acclaimed graphic novelist Edward Ross to its school library.

Having applied for Live Literature funding we were thrilled to have been granted two sessions with an author of our choice – and after scouring the Scottish Book Trust database we unanimously decided on Edward Ross, a writer/artist who, given his pedigree and experience workshopping, seemed like the sensible choice.

Edward’s self-published book, Filmish, received widespread praise and even became The Observer’s Graphic Novel of the Month in January 2016. It was also a hit among our student cinephiles.

Right from the off, Edward communicated his passion for cinema and comics in an accessible, fun way. The kids quickly bought into his approach.

Pupils drawing at Edward Ross visit to Doon Academy
After a brief introduction, he distributed five worksheets to the classes in both sessions. The first half of the period saw each pupil choose from a word bank of descriptions. They then drew a full-body picture of their character – one of the funniest characters that emerged from this exercise was a ‘clumsy, alien, zombie-ghost’ which looked as insane as it sounds!

Then it was time for some collaboration. The pupils were given a piece of paper with four empty panels. A student would draw the first panel of a story, then pass it on to their neighbor, and so on, until the tale was complete. We got some truly fascinating stories (here's one example), most of which tended to veer off in various strange directions. Edward encouraged this. 'The crazier the better!'

Edward said: 'It was great to meet the Doon students. They’re an imaginative, talented bunch. I think it’s really rewarding coming out to isolated schools. You can tell the kids really appreciate you coming to see them.'

Doon Academy pupils Lauren Aitcheson and Erin Jones were in attendance and thought the workshop was tremendously worthwhile. Lauren said: 'I love the events in the library. It’s great meeting real artists and writers. I hope to get into art myself one day.'

Erin echoed this enthusiasm: 'I’ve always been into art. It’s good getting to meet professionals. Hopefully one day I can do what Edward does and write my own graphic novels for a living.'

Our Live Literature programme is open for funding applications twice every year. Check out our Live Literature section to find out more about how you can fund a writer visit, and subscribe to our Schools e-newsletters to be notified when the programme is open for applications.

Check out our other posts about comics and graphic novels in the classroom - or why not check out this fabulous blog series from comic creator Adam Murphy all about using comics in schools and libraries?

Chris Kelso

Chris Kelso is a writer, editor and assistant librarian at Doon Academy. His novels include The Black Dog Eats the City, The Dissolving Zinc Theatre and Unger House Radicals - amongst others. As well as the Doon Review, he edits the US culture and literary magazine Imperial Youth Review. His books are available from Waterstones, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.  You can find out more about Chris at his website. His new novel Unger House Radicals is an intriguing piece of existential horror and is available now!