Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Girl Scouts Comics Badge

My wife and I are Girl Scout leaders. Right now we have a troop that is almost entirely Juniors (this includes mostly elementary school aged girls). I am a 'tech guy' at a law firm for a living, and I was going to lead a computer related badge, only most of them are annoyingly lame in my opinion and require a lot of work outside of the meeting. We have generally found that our girls don't have a lot of time for scouting activities outside of our official meetings, but we can usually get them to finish things at home if we have to. I was a bit discouraged, until my wife told me she had found a Comics badge online. It turns out there was a 'Council's Own' badge that had been created by the Virginia Skyline Council. I printed out the requirements (we already had permission from that council to use their badges), and set to planning a meeting.

The meeting was tonight, and I had forgotten how draining running a meeting could be. The girls seemed to enjoy it, and most had a pretty good handle on ideas about comics. The majority were very familiar with Comic Strips, and a number of them were already manga fans. We did a lot of talking about all the forms that comics can take, and the many different ways the medium could be used. Most of them already knew what genre meant, so talking about comics as a medium vs a genre made sense to some at least. I had a TON of props to pass around, including newspapers, and nearly every format of comic you can get. I showed Persepolis, and Chiggers and Minx titles, Baby Mouse, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Scott McCloud Google Chrome comic, Tiny Titans and a handfull of different single issue comics, Owly, Amelia Rules, Several Manga titles, even Cynicalman (I just showed selected strips, as not all are age apropriate, but I wanted to show them how varied the art styles can be, and that even stick figures can be awesome).

We talked about finding webcomics, and getting comics at the library, I mentioned bookstores and comic shops, but stressed the free places the most, since we are all about inclusiveness, and everyone can afford free, even if not everyone has a computer at home, etc.

The biggest hit, in addition to letting them have time to think about a character and draw it as part of a larger activity they will continue at home, was the emotions activity.

My oldest got a good handful of screen caps of panels from Manga that showed emotions in the various ways that manga does, and we discussed them. I had a big pad of paper and periodically drew sweatdrops and thought bubbles that I held up over the girls nearest to me, to illustrate how the various visual devices were used. We then broke off into 2 lines and the girls did an exercise where they made facial and body expressions to get points across. The idea was to show how to communicate things in still images. Then each pair did a sort of freeze frame scene to show a particular set of emotions or conflict, etc. The girls loved this.

I am sure there was a little more, and despite a few people drifting off a little, almost everyone stayed into it. Hopefully we will be able to do a field trip to the local comic shop if I can coordinate it with the owner. My next step is getting the rest of my handouts together and distributed to them with URL's and suggested reading lists.

Another big hit with the girls was my youngest daughter's Owly that was signed and had a sketch in it that Andy Runton did while chatting with her at Heroes last year.


Eden said...

We never did anything that cool when I was in Girl Scouts.

Anonymous said...

My firend and I found this very helpful for our comic designer badge we will be hosting for our troop