Category Archives: Teaching

The Week Behind; The Week Ahead: Sept 18

Phew. There’s a whirlwind going on, y’all. We are in the last few days of a major Kickstarter campaign run by my publisher, Comicker Press, to bring five different graphic novels from digital into print. The first volume of Waking Life is among them, and at 2/3 funding with five days to go, I am figuratively on pins and needles!

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(I say figuratively because, folks, I’m an English teacher, and I just spent the past few weeks of school reinforcing for my kids that figurative language isn’t literal. And I literally want to be the best role model possible for my students. )

Last week was the start of the whirlwind. My brother in comics– Tyler Ellis— and I spent the weekend of the 9th at Staple in Austin. It’s the best indie comics show in the southern U.S., and a real highlight of the year. Getting time to meet new faces and reconnect with previous acquaintances was a real treat.

But I moved straight from that into a full week of classes, vocab, and test prep– the first full week of school since we began, thanks to Hurricane Harvey. Having spent a lot more time together, my students taught me a few things in the process:

A) Never arm-wrestle a student whose biceps are larger than your head

B) Roblox is… a thing. Potentially bigger than Harambe was to last year’s group. There’s a reason everyone’s saying OOF a lot.

C) A single misspelling can end up being more profound than a hundred sincerely meant words.

I also decided to try my hand at fan art– i.e., the practice of drawing already-existing characters. Part of this is because I need to up my illustration game; part of it’s because I’d like to improve at digital drawing as well. I feel a lot of personally-induced pressure when working on Waking Life to make my pages look awesome, but that eliminates a little bit of the sense of play and discovery. I need an outlet for that, and I figured drawing characters I’ve enjoyed from other areas in a casual way creates that opportunity. To wit:

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Tyrion and Bronn are one of my favorite unlikely buddy comedies duos of the moment

Geordi and Data: some of my favorite odd-couple bros in all of science fiction.

I also discovered the utility of Instagram’s Stories feature (thanks, Christin), so now I’m annoying people with mildly humorous videos several times a day. Being half as funny as you think you are is the job of a father, though, so I’m staying on brand. Also, it DID give me the opportunity to document a major mishap that happened last night:

 

Finally, I had a few rad opportunities to chat up media folks about Waking Life and our soon-to-finish campaign. The Baylor Lariat, where I did my first public cartooning work, was kind enough to offer me an interview, which should be dropping this week. Also, Tyler and I will be doing a live AMA with our Comicker crew tonight at 7:00 central— we’d love to have you drop in and ask a few Q’s, give a few comments, and talk shop.

More to come next week, so stay tuned. I’ll have a story about how the campaign finishes up, one way or another. Until then, here’s a taste of things to come:

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Filed under Comics, fan art, General Musings, Sketchbook, Teaching

Arise: A Collaboration

Check it out: a blast from the past!

Ever wonder what to do with manga and/or anime kids? You know. The ones that love comics and cartoons made primarily in Japan?

If you’re teaching, you join in the fun.

The above image is from back in the spring when I tutored at a local high school. One of my boys had started working on his own manga script and asked me to draw a page. I wanted to encourage him (and maybe I felt gratified), but I did this, dang it. You can still see the marks from the scanner.

Then I went back to visit him in September and saw that his art skills had GROWN over the summer.  His new rendition of the first page BLOWS this out of the water.

At the same time, this is really similar to a sequence in the first Scott Pilgrim book, which neither of us had read at that point. We were either hapless geniuses… or we were inadvertently confessing we could only talk to cute girls in our dreams.

Hmm…

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Filed under Cartoons, Comics, Sketchbook, Teaching

Tweets and Beats

When I worked at La Vega High, our tutoring room was right next to the band hall. Sound insulation? Not so great. And for some reason, the tuba section liked to warm up with “Seven Nation Army.”  So every morning at work, we’d get to kick things off with the incessant cadence of “bummmm bum-ba-bum bumm-bummm.”

Every morning.

EVERY morning.

(My co-workers loved it even less than I did.)

Anyway, here’s a notebook-paper tribute: 

 

Rock on.

 

On a tangential note (not a pun), I’m now taking a class that is gonna make me even more technologically prolific. It’s a section on education in the classroom, and instead of learning spreadsheets and macros, our assignments are cool things like this:

http://twitter.com/benjamite_words

Holler back. That’s my new Twitter account. (Read my posts carefully: they might get graded).

It’s weird. Sometimes, this stuff makes me  feel like a Vaudevillian at the dawn of cinema. I mean, I love old-school mediums like pen-and-ink drawings, or reading library books. That’s how I”m used to communicating and being communicated with. But with Web 2.0 there’s now this whole new delivery system out there that so inclusive and meta-referential and collaborative…

(“he said on his blog”)

…anyway. Anticipatory and excited about scaling the learning curve.

Beware, future students. Mr. H is gonna wow you with whiteboard drawings and classroom tweets!

That is, if the freaking band would stop being so obnoxious…

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Filed under Sketchbook, Teaching