Teaching with Comics: Outlining a Presentation

teaching with comics

Today in my Writing Comics class at the University of Kentucky, we used comic making as a way to plan a short presentation. Each student has read a graphic novel of their choice, and they are planning a 3-minute talk about the book, the maker, and some specific comic-making decisions the maker made.

We do a lot of freewriting in this class, but it’s rarely text-only. Instead, I tell everyone to grab a sheet of blank paper or graph paper and draw 4 panels. So it made sense to outline our talks this way, too. We drew six panels, imagining each panel as 30 seconds of our talk, and went to work drawing and writing ideas.

My example here is quite messy, haha, so I’ll walk you through it. The first panel shows me (faceless, LOL) in front of a screen. The screen shows the cover of the book HOT COMB and I’m saying the word “synopsis”, signalling that the first 30 seconds of my talk will cover the plot at characters of a story in the book. The second panel shows my face excitedly giving a brief bio of the book’s author, Ebony Flowers. In the third and fourth panels, I drew myself waving at the slides, which are pages from the book, and talking about various word and picture pairings and panel to panel transitions. The fifth panel shows Ebony Flowers herself with a binder of inked pages for her next book. The sixth panel shows myself talking about comics drawn by hand versus comics made digitally.

This way of planning a talk is really intriguing to me. When I was a young college student, I had a really hard time with public speaking. I barely talk even after heavily planning what I wanted to say. But maybe there’s something about drawing one’s self standing up, gesturing, and talking, that might generate confidence? It definitely felt like better preparation than a text-only outline or even a storyboard.

What do you think?

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