Monday, December 1, 2014

Halcolm comics in print!

Today I received my copy of a book that features nine of my comic strips -- Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods (Patton, 2014).  This is a project I'm proud to be a part of.  The story of my involvement is interesting.

I was taking a course on Qualitative Research, and the earlier edition of this book was the textbook.  I was in the middle of a doctoral program, and as soon as I began reading the book, I noticed there was something that made it much different than every other textbook I had ever read.  Though it is full of important information about research methods, the author, Michael Q. Patton also gets points across by telling stories.  The tales are often funny, and in the form of parables.

Imagine that!  A teacher who teaches through stories and humor.  After reading and writing pages and pages of dry, factual "scholarly" writing, this book was like an oasis in the desert.

One of my favorite features are the Parables of Halcolm (pronounced "How Come?").  Often when I read, I can visualize what it would look like as a comic strip.  I couldn't resist quickly sketching it out, and turning it into a comic strip.  I liked how it looked, and thought about sending it to the author.  I couldn't find an email, so I Facebook-friended him, then sent a message.  He liked it and asked to include it in the next edition of the text.

There's something that's positively 21st century about this story.  Here I was taking a course, Facebook friends with the author of the course text, and contributing to the next edition of the text!

Eventually, I was asked to illustrate eight more of the parables.  Each chapter concludes with a two or three page Halcolm parable, like a "meditation" on the theme of the preceding chapter.

Below is one of the Halcolm comic strips.  A link to the rest of them are here

Sunday, November 9, 2014

How do Artistic Ideas Emerge?

"How do artistic ideas emerge?"
This is a drawing I did to illustrate the National Core Art Standard:
Demonstrate willlingness to experiment, innovate, and take risks to pursue ideas, forms,and meanings that emerge in the process of art-making or designing.
(National Core Art Standard V:Cr2.1.8a).

I also created a worksheet for students to complete as they worked on this project. If you are curious to see it, here it is.  

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer Gateway Comics Workshop

This Saturday I had the pleasure of presenting a workshop at the Mansfield University Summer Gateway retreat at the Thousand Hills Center.  These are students who will be freshmen in the fall.   The weekend was about literacy of all kinds.  I presented a workshop on comics.

I started by asking them to write down the first ten words they thought of when I said "Comics". Like most people, they thought of words like: funny, short, superheroes, Stan Lee, and so on.

I had brought with me a big tub of comics of all kinds:  comics diaries, journalism, graphic narratives, and so many different types.  Then we had a discussion about the unexpected discoveries they made about the types of stories comics can tell.

No workshop like this is complete without giving it a try!  Everybody tried their hand at making a one page comic strip.  My challenge to them was to think of the last thing that happened to them that made them laugh.  That is the punchline, now -- what do you have to show us so that we can "get" the joke.  How many panels will you have to draw.  Students of every conceivable major were there and they were very open-minded and a good sport about it.  And, some of them were hi-larious!

Saturday, July 12, 2014


This comic is my visual interpretation of some passages from The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.  Occasionally, you see yourself in someone else's story, and these are the images I see when I read these words. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Diary Comics

Comics is an art form that anyone can be part of.  One of my favorite kind to make are "diary comics."  You can make them too!  Will you make a lot of money? Will you make the big time? Probably not. So why do I do it?  I can capture moments like this.  Things I've experienced and cherish and always want to remember.  I have it, and my son has it, and will have it forever. 

It is art that comes from your life, and you can share it if you want.  One of the comics greats said, "Drawing is a medium to communicate with the great family we have not met, the public, the world." (Moebius).

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Comic Art Comes Alive!

My daughter and I are co-curating a show of original comic art in a gallery setting. We want to take the viewer "behind the scenes" of the comic book with a display of original comic art. In an act of extreme generosity, several collectors are sharing their original pages of Star Wars, Batman, and other comic books. Local comic creators will also share their work, as well as some kid comics! Our reception should be a blast! It will be more like a "mini-comic con" than a typical reception. We are going to totally nerd it up in an art gallery setting, with artists making sketches, selling comics and costumed heroes cavorting around. 

Reception: July 6:00, 2-4 pm. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Sketch Dailies

I have been participating in a daily sketch challenge called Sketch Dailies.  Each day around noon they post the topic for the day -- usually a character from literature or pop culture.  Then artists from all over render the character in their own way.  I've taken it as a challenge to try to "Walesify" things I probably wouldn't otherwise darw -- and at the same time learn some things from the research I do into the characters.  Here are some of the things I've created in response to the various challenges. 


Iron Fist



Shipwreck (G.I.Joe)

Weekend Catch Up




Peter Parker

Weekend Catch Up


Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I have always been one to doodle while taking notes.  As a kid, I was sometimes reprimanded for drawing during class. Admittedly, sometimes my mind was a million miles away. However, at some point, I started using it as a way to stay engaged.  Over the years, I would ask myself, "If I were an illustrator, how would I represent the concepts being discussed?"  It helps me to stay focused and remember what I was listening to while drawing.

I've since learned that there are other who take notes in similar ways -- a whole army of Sketchnoters!  There's a great book and video by designer Mike Rohde who teaches it as a method of taking notes.  For most, the desire for quality of artwork is not as important as thinking of symbols that will help you remember the concept being discussed. 

Whenever I attend a workshop or training, I take the opportunity to practice.  Here are some pages from a workshop I attended today where I learned a lot about the Collins Writing Program, a great new program that helps teachers of all subjects integrate writing across the curriculum.