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Create a cartoon strip!

30 October 2008

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By David Parkins

Stunning poster by children’s illustrator and political cartoonist, David Parkins, of The Beano, explaining how cartoon strips are made.

cartoon-strip-image.jpg

Shared teaching and learning

Before reading

  • Do the children read comics?
  • Who are their favourite characters?
  • Can they recall any typical character traits or catchphrases?

Shared reading

  • Discuss the layout and appearance of the poster, noting how the text exemplifies its subject matter and the traditional use of capitals. How do the numbers help? Which sections require extended inspection?
  • Invite individuals to read sections aloud. Note the informal, chatty tone.
  • Study the expressions in Frame 2 and invite adjectives to describe emotions on Bruv’s face. Invite children to make faces that match Bruv’s or show further emotions. Note the position of the eyeballs.
  • Identify the sub-headings in text boxes, separate from the call-out speech bubbles. How do these help identify and retrieve information? What does Ta-daa! mean? Why is it effective?
  • Invite children to read aloud the sound effects: Whump! Boomf! Are these real words? Discuss their onomatopoeic effect and think up others – old and invented.
  • Discuss the Tip logo. Would this appear in a story text? What is its function in an information text?

Previous learning

Children need to be able to: read text printed exclusively in capital letters; recognise and comment on layout, graphic format and text structure and explain its rationale and purpose.

Download an author profile of David Parkins from our website.

Responding

  • Discuss how easy it is to read text entirely in capitals. Compare the names of towns on old milestones and modern road signs. Why is lower-case lettering used now? Rewrite phrases that include risers and descenders and compare their appearance and ease of reading.
  • Highlight the verbs (all imperatives): Ask yourself; Try out; Write.
  • List the basic stages in creating a cartoon strip. Which numbered frames will be included and which omitted?
  • Discuss the appeal of an animal in a story, interacting with human characters or anthropomorphised.

Group and independent activities

  • Encourage children to draw faces with different expressions, labelling them with an appropriate emotion. Challenge them to create an expression to match an emotion. Keep these as a prompt-bank.
  • Ask small mixed ability groups to create three characters – larger than life – exaggerating personality traits and appearance.
  • Invite drafts of a humorous story with a strong visual element, using three characters from the poster. Follow it through the listed stages to completion.

Key learning outcomes:

  • To identify main points of text, how it is organised through syntax, context, word structure;
  • To explore how text appeals to the reader;
  • To use layout, format, graphics and illustration for various purposes;
  • To make decisions about form/ use to evaluate writing;
  • To use settings and characterisation.

Further reading

The Comic Strip History of the World Tracey Turner & Sally Kindberg (coming soon from Bloomsbury) – The history of the World in 96 pages – with pictures. From the Big Bang, to the present day, via Ancient China, The Roman Empire, The Dark Ages, etc. The entire history of the world, starting with the Big Bang, condensed for your entertainment and of course, education and packed into one hilarious, irreverent comic strip. Written by Tracey Turner (101 Things) and illustrated by celebrated cartoonist Sally Kindberg, this is the ultimate book for everyone. (Why let kids have all the fun?!)

Links with writing

  • Rewrite sections of the poster, translating them into mixed case lettering as appropriate.
  • Enlarge the activity sheet below to A3 and use for guidance in how to divide a story.
  • Write a story with an attention-grabbing beginning, lively middle, and amusing end, using the three characters from the poster.
  • Create an alphabetical glossary of onomatopoeic sound effect words.
  • Produce information texts – linked with other areas of the curriculum – in graphic format.

Plenary

  • Listen to the children’s stories based on the poster characters and discuss how these could be portrayed graphically, and where a story would divide into separate frames. Discuss positioning of sound effect words.
  • Display the expressive face drawings and discuss their effectiveness. Invite suggestions for synonymous adjectives and/or antonyms.

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