Let’s Make History! Create Your Own Comics
Instead of a new installment in the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series, this year we got a related book, one that encourages kids to make their own comics through a wide variety of art and storytelling activities introduced by the continuing characters of that series.
Let’s Make History! Create Your Own Comics starts in with a challenge. Actually, two. First, the reader is encouraged to draw their own splash page, before an explanation page tells them “YOU will be drawing, writing, and researching all kinds of wacky history stuff! Do you have what it takes?”
While the Provost and the Spy (Nathan Hale of history) take a break, the Artist (Nathan Hale of present-day) and the Hangman explain what it takes to draw history comics, with tons of activities, punctuated by series-faithful humor.
You can read through this and learn some cartooning terms and how the process works, with plenty of encouragement to use imagination. But it’s really intended to be drawn all over, with the reminder early on, “This shouldn’t be in a library. This should be in a store.”
I found the section on research and using reference particularly interesting, as well as the exercise on adapting historical stories. Hale also reminds cartoonists to take care of their bodies with breaks; that’s necessary, useful advice.
It would take a fairly dedicated reader, one really interested in cartooning, to work their way through all of this book, but for those, this is a lot more entertaining than most “how to make comics” books I’ve seen.