Care Bears. Weather patterns. A talking stool. What common link could these three things possibly share?
Well, in fact, they're all elements in different books by Jonathan Hill, a Portland-based cartoonist and comics illustrator. Yesterday Hill came to speak with our eighth grade English students about the process behind crafting compelling, visually appealing graphic novels. "Comics is really 90% problem solving and 10% drawing," he opined to the gathered Middle School community members. "It's actually more like engineering than it is like art."
As a creator of comics for 14 years, Hill has established his own process for bringing stories to life, which includes writing proposals, crafting outlines, producing paragraph synopses, and penning scripts. One particular component he highlighted for the students is called "thumbnailing," which involves taking between 30 seconds to two minutes in order to quickly sketch one page and thus produce a rough layout.
Hill's visit is quite timely; our students have been studying the importance of storytelling and the various mediums through which tales can be told. They recently read Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer-Prize winning graphic novel Maus—a story about a son's quest to tell his father's story of surviving the Holocaust.
Check out a video snippet of Hill imparting some of his comic world wisdom to the Class of 2021.