Haven’t we all read comics as kids? And laughed our heads off looking at some funny illustrations in them? But comics have more to them, than just a story, a funny picture and great entertainment.
We spoke to Santiago Slabý, an independent artist of Argentinian origin who conducts comics workshops for kids. Here he tells us how creating comics, can help develop logic in kids and how it helps a child get a developed sense of communication through imagination.
How did you come up with an idea to teach kids to draw comics?
When I first started, I began teaching comics to kids in some cafés I knew. This helped me spread the word. It started slowly, but the first child I taught, covered his bedroom walls with drawings in a couple of weeks. His mum was excited about it and wrote the most amazing recommendation letter to the school, her child was attending. And then it all began!
Why are comics good for children?
Comics is a language. It is an image attached to a piece of text. In simpler words, it is natural storytelling. Mastering this kind of skill allows us to deliver a message.
My primary objective is not just to shape an improved storyteller, but also to train a person with a developed sense of communication. A person who will strive to make a group of people empathize with their message.
What do you do in the workshops?
Kids learn to work out a character that they can manipulate freely. They then develop it inside a story using their own logic. We work on the basis that we’re making up stories to be read and enjoyed by someone else. So, it has to be beyond our personal satisfaction. And this also applies to the visual side, where without getting too technical we try to structure our own drawing style.
Do kids like it? What is the feedback?
Feedback has been overwhelming sometimes. The kids at the end of the term are proud of the work they’ve produced. They know and understand the effort their work demands, and also recognize their improvements. Even, when things get complicated, they keep themselves resilient and want to finish, what they started.
How is it beneficial for a child in the long run?
The workshop teaches kids to deliver a message effectively, in a sharp, quick way. By becoming better communicators, kids will also become better interpreters. They will also learn to be patient.
Would you recommend it to children who are not interested in comics as well?
Kids are naturally inclined towards comics. All the people, who come to the workshops, come with curiosity. Sometimes kids discover a skill, they didn’t know, they had. Some enthralled by the way comics look according to pop culture media, and later are discouraged by sitting down and having to pour their imagination on paper.
Will there be any workshops during summer this year?
I’m working on a workshop, that’s going to be three times a week at my apartment, very small groups. Not more than two kids at a time – working on different kinds of animation and storytelling, with different techniques. This will be in August – Ice tea and cookies on the house!
Want to join a comic workshop?
Santiago offers private lessons in creating comics. It is not based on an agenda, but planned according to the interests and goals of a student. Price: 400CZK for a lesson. 700CZK for two children together, 900CZK for three. He also goes to students’ houses, but charges 100CZK for travel. The lessons are usually 90 mins to 120 minutes.
Santiago has been working in visual media for about 15 years. He moved to Prague two years ago and found out that he is quite good engaging with kids in matters of teaching. He is now holding his own comics workshop for kids in three schools in Prague: Christian International School of Prague (CISP), Park Lane School and Riverside.
For more information check out Santiago’s website.