As any of my old art teachers will tell you, or even some of my pupils who have had the misfortune to see my attempts at drawing on the whiteboard, my ‘art’ is ‘artbreakingly bad. I can’t draw very well at all, something which always disappointed me. Luckily there are a number of comic creating tools on the internet which solve this problem for me, as I enjoy using comics both as comprehension tools, and increasingly, as ways for pupils to produce language in a more fun way. I have a number of Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes Spanish comic books which I often photocopied and put on my door for pupils to read, or tippexed out the words and got them to write in new words for and now I can create my own.
My favourite one at the moment is Chogger. It took a little practise to get used to how it worked, and I found a few of the controls a little fiddly to begin with, but I really like the results it gives, and you have a lots of options to make your comics. In fact I used a chogger comic in a job interview I had, a job which I got! I used a comic to introduce the present subjunctive and one of its uses. Below is a picture of it, and you can see the whole thing here.
Signing up is free (you will see this trend of using free stuff developing – I think it is my natural Scotish miserliness!) When you have logged on, or accessed the site, click on ‘Build Comic Now’ and it will take you to the comic creator tool. Firstly you choose your layout for your strip, which gives a variety of comic panel options. Then you have the option of choosing your image. I tend to find pictures from the Google Images option, which gives you a massive choice of course, though you can also drw your own, take a photo or upload images you already have. Pictures taken from Google Images can be adapted to a small extent and once you have picked one you simply click ‘Add Image’ and it will be stored in the section in the top left corner with the shadowy head! The image can then be dragged and resized into the panels. To add speech bubbles, click on the bubble icon in the top left and then drag the type of bubble you want into the relevant panel. Then you can type into it, adjust the font size and size of the bubble and you then just continue the process until you have filled up your comic panels. For accents, you will have to use shortcuts, or cut and paste from a word document.
You can always add more panels if you find your comic beginning to expand from its original length. When you are done, simply click ‘finish’ and then give it a title and description to help you and others find it afterwards. This is the one downside I think of Chogger; the way of searching for comics is not ideal, you have to know what you are looking for. When you have clicked Publish, I strongly recommend copying and pasting the URL at the top of the page and save it somewhere to help you use it again. Obviously you can print them out as well, but in my view Chogger needs to sort out how your comics are stored in a more organised fashion, possibly on your profile page for instance. Hopefully this is something they will improve.
My 4th form had a go at making Chogger comics and it worked really well. I did it in a language lab lesson so I could show them how to do the fiddly bits with speech bubbles. Be ready to stop the faffing around looking for loads of images but apart from that they can produce nice looking comic strips in a very short period of time. It is an easy way to do lots of written tasks and better than simply just setting a fairly standard written prep, especially for younger age groups perhaps.
As always, if you do any chogger cartoons and wish to share, please let me know!