Since 2007 a dedicated group of kids have been meeting up every Friday afternoon in the science lab of Sunnyside Environmental School composing their own graphic novels, comics, manga and illustrated narratives. Young creators from kindergarten to 8th grade from several neighborhood schools have participated with an equal number of boys and girls dishing out gritty, funny and often alien enriched sequential art. A very scantily populated blog was created to document the kid’s work at Sunnyside Comic Club, we had the best intentions to keep the content fresh but with so many other cool projects happening in our lives, this was just one monkey too many to wrestle.
Typical Fridays start with a brief warm up exercise featuring the artist’s favorite or “default” character. This may be something the kids have developed a longer story line around or full comic or it may be a beloved manga character. Once everyone has settled in there is a brief discussion around latest read comics or recounts of events attended during the week. Home to the indie comic publishers Dark Horse, Oni Press and Top Shelf, Portland has seven comic shops as well as comic libraries, festivals and numerous workshops and several comic inspired fine art galleries so there is almost always something to talk about. For the bulk of the meeting the kids either work on a comic they have in development or various writing or drawing exercises that help them further explore the craft.
Many of the lesson plans are inspired by the writings of Scott McCloud, Jessica Abel, Matt Madden, Spike Lee, Wil Eisner and Lynda Barry with a good deal of Bill Waterson thrown in to keep it light. Local comic writers and illustrators often visit the club to talk about their work and once a year we host a super feast where the kids come in costume and we dine on comic inspired foods.