Teaching comics to kids.
I was invited by Diego Toro (the amazing penciler of OMB, and the artist who I am lettering on Deliverance) to help him out on a special project. Diego, Kóte Carvajal (same credits colorist), his wife Daniela (Cabralesa) and me embarked together several weeks ago to a meeting outside Santiago on the sunny and sometimes peaceful city of Viña del Mar.
Six weeks later I am writing this piece seated on a bus on what is the last of my daily trips to the city of Rancagua, roughly 120 kms south Santiago. A historical city that faced Chile’s destiny on a tremendous battle two centuries ago.
I take the bus daily to Rancagua to teach comics to kids.
Proyecto Enlaces (The Links Project) is a network settled by the Chilean Goverment Education Office that aims kids to develop new skills based on the Knowledge and Information Technologies (TIC) for development of new set of habilities that would make them embrace new horizons on their potentials. I am talking rural town schools, some of them under the social risk line and some of them so far that they even travel longer than me to attend.
The mechanics are simple and dynamic, which helps everyone. I teach two teachers and two kids per school how to do comics and they must replicate the system twice on their schools. We use several digital tools, but you can sum it up as using Celtx as the main script making -program and Sketchbook for the artistic side of the process.
Up until today, I have meet almost 15 different schools from Rancagua and its surroundings (Tinguiririca, Las Cabras, Coltauco, Rengo, Pelequen, Graneros, and some that I am now forgetting them). Talented kids, from 8 to 16, who travel an hour or more from their towns for this two day workshop. We spend one day learning how to understand the magic and the different specifics of comics and then, on the next day, starting to create their own comic from scratch. Premise, documentation, scene development, script, penciling, inking and lettering. After this workshop they are commited to reproduce the process on their schools in a 10 day session of pure comic making magic.
Their creativity is unlimited. Based on their own lives and experiences and what I can teach them about pushing boundaries they came up with outstanding stories.
They shown me such an amazingly different set of stories, from historical
- Two generals, childhood friends who faces against each other on D Day in Normandy.
- A chinese nuclear submarine that strangley appears in a nearby Dem, damaged and its tripulation in order to merge with the local community heals the major with herbal tea and gets their submarine fixed with wicker.
- An inmigrant smurf with detective skills who solves a mystery in order to be wlecomed as an valuable member of the new Smurf Village which he’s asking asylum in.
- A dog tale, old and grumpy who stops a bank robbery just because bullets are making too much noise for him.
- A bullyed boy who runs away into space just to meet that he has just morphed into a octopus kind of creature after exiting a wormhole, just ot find that he’s still bullyed on another planet.
It has been an tremendous adventure and now that I am returning home I am only but thankkful to live this experience where kids seems to enjoy the comics process and I enjoy tremendously meeting creative kids and teachers.
There’s a second stage to this. Someone must travel to see how the project is being implemented, but I don’t think that I’ll be the one doing that. Their towns are from 20 minutes to an hour and a half away from Rancagua, so adding that the distance from my home to Rancagua (roughly 2 hours and scratch) would make the 25 trips almost impossible. Still I’d like to see how they are doing.
I’d like to repeat this adventure sometime soon. I am leaving Rancagiua for the last time with a huge smile.
So Thanks, Diego for the opportunity.