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  1. #1

    Fun with Webcomics (and you can help!)

    About four years ago, there was a great experiment called Penny Arcade: Remix. Strips from the web-comic, Penny Arcade, had their speech bubbles blanked out and subsequently filled by Japanese school-children.

    That's long ago enough to rip off, right?

    Anyway, one of the jobs I have is head English instructor at a ? juku, or cram school. Basically, kids come in after regular school and use educational DS software, do homework, or take my English lessons. I basically teach out of the public school's Japanese textbooks and do workbook exercises with them. Once we're finished, I round out the hour-and-a-half sessions with word games, origami, and other random stuff I think of.

    The aforementioned experiment caught my interest, and I decided to try it with the middle school boys I have on Wednesdays. They're all buddies so I knew they'd have fun working together... plus they can get bored of studying easily.

    It worked out well, and they had a lot of fun doing it. It was a little tough, and I'm gonna let them polish up their work next week after studies are over. Still, Penny Arcade's art-style has proved itself once again. The exaggerated motions, facial expressions, and unique style immediately drew the students into the project.

    The project used the recent "story-arc" of Gabe's epic fall into the madness that is table-top gaming through the subtle use of a WoW card game. It was a perfect length for a story at twelve panels, with a cohesive visual plot, and it clearly involved a card game... something Japanese kids love and know well.

    OK, I've bored you enough with my backstory, so here are the comics:

    Original arc:

    Cloaked in Twilight
    Hot Dogs
    The Obliterator
    He Who Fights With Nerds

    And now the students...
    (NOTE: They seemed to find it hilarious that the card looked like Magikarp, so that's what ????? is when written on the card)

    Need Money - This guy took one idea and really ran with it...

    Lvl 9999999 Magikarp - This student employs a unique form of storytelling, wherein he just fills in random panels.

    Two Stones - Where'd that pirate come from?

    Liars Everywhere! - I think Tycho is paranoid...

    ....... - This guy was too busy dicking around to finish and barely filled in anything. Ironic, since he has the neatest handwriting. I'll update this one next week when they finish.

    ---

    Now, up in the subject I mentioned you can help. The original experiment definitely had some better results (it was done over two years), but the best thing that came out of this was the students absolutely loved it. The owner had to come over to see what all the excitement was about. Afterwards, he told me he thought it was a great idea, so I certainly have the go-ahead from him. So...

    I'm going to keep trying it with other students and with other twists/variations to it. Eventually, I'll start collecting the results on my site Cactus Leaf Translations, which needs an overhaul badly.

    How can you help? Well, as perfectly suited to this project as Penny Arcade is, I want to be a little more original. Like I said, put some more spin into it. If you want to help, post a favorite strip of yours, or simply link to it. If it's good enough, I'll edit it, print it, and bring it in for students to mess with. Any comic is OK, because there's a wide variety of students.

    One rule: No graphically offensive content (duh)

    Offensive language is a-okay because I blank out all the speech bubbles anyway. Just consider these things when submitting a comic:

    • Nice sized speech bubbles, or clear indication where text goes[/*:m:1k28ws46]
    • Clear, easily understood facial expressions[/*:m:1k28ws46]
    • Light colors and backgrounds - can always brighten up using Levels, though[/*:m:1k28ws46]
    • Plot that's visually easy to follow and creatively interpret[/*:m:1k28ws46]
    • Exaggerated motions and faces are great for humor[/*:m:1k28ws46]
    • Large panels, not too crowded or busy[/*:m:1k28ws46]
    • NO sex, nudity, partial nudity, visual innuendo, extreme violence -- slapstick is ok[/*:m:1k28ws46]


    So, pick out your favorites, post 'em or link 'em, and I'll show the results as they come in.

  2. #2
    Relic Horn
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    Re: Fun with Webcomics (and you can help!)

    For another good art style, machall.com Comic Hasn't been update in ages, but there's some pretty funny ones in there that might work.

  3. #3
    blax n gunz
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    Re: Fun with Webcomics (and you can help!)

    Most schools don't have sophisticated copiers. Last one I was at still used a RISO mimeograph, which is terrible at reproducing comics that have big dark areas or gradients of any kind. So pick comics that use solid colors and light backgrounds without too much fussy detail. A comic that's already black and white is ideal. As much as I love machall, that guy never drew outlines around anything and the subtle shades/shapes are likely to get munged in the duplication process.

    http://www.pvponline.com/2007/12/03/kri ... en-part-1/

    Is what I'd go to these days.

  4. #4
    ¯\(°_o)/¯
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    Re: Fun with Webcomics (and you can help!)

    I am regrettable!
    Foreign kids are awesome.

  5. #5
    Banned.

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    Re: Fun with Webcomics (and you can help!)

    the money one I actually loled at, it was good.

  6. #6
    Sea Torques
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    Re: Fun with Webcomics (and you can help!)

    If my foreign language teachers back in high school were as cool as you are I might have actually tried.

    Take a gander at My Extra Life - one of my favorite web comics.

  7. #7

    Re: Fun with Webcomics (and you can help!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Correction
    Most schools don't have sophisticated copiers. Last one I was at still used a RISO mimeograph, which is terrible at reproducing comics that have big dark areas or gradients of any kind. So pick comics that use solid colors and light backgrounds without too much fussy detail. A comic that's already black and white is ideal.
    I don't have to worry about the copier, but those same points go for my printer. Also, simple styles avoid confusing students who are already nervous/shy about their English anyway.

    What I did for the strips is Grayscale them in Photoshop and use Levels to ease the load off my printer on the dark backgrounds.

    That PvP link is perfect though, if anyone wants a good example. Clear faces, easy on the printer, and a big exaggerated expression at the end.

  8. #8

    Re: Fun with Webcomics (and you can help!)

    The third line on each of the remade comics made me lol each time, much funnier then the original

  9. #9
    A. Body
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    Re: Fun with Webcomics (and you can help!)

    For another good art style, machall.com Comic Hasn't been update in ages, but there's some pretty funny ones in there that might work.
    The artist and writer now to Three Panel Soul, which is a bit less structured, but still funny at times. A number of them are B&W too, which might aid in photocopying.

    I would also point out Applegeeks for art quality/expression.

  10. #10
    Old Merits
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    Re: Fun with Webcomics (and you can help!)

    Dinosaur Comics has something like this with their comic as well. The thing is, every comic is the exact same panels with the words changed, so it could be nice for letting students create a totally bizarre story without at least semi-follow what appears to be happening.

  11. #11
    Sea Torques
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    Re: Fun with Webcomics (and you can help!)

    Sinfest seems like it would work pretty well. Black and white, exaggerated expressions, just have to avoid the strips depicting drug use/pornography, but since the speech balloons will be blanked out most of the strips should be fine.

  12. #12
    Smells like Onions
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    Re: Fun with Webcomics (and you can help!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Korietsu
    For another good art style, machall.com Comic Hasn't been update in ages, but there's some pretty funny ones in there that might work.
    the author has moved the website mantaining machall, now go look http://www.threepanelsoul.com/index.php for your pleasure


    EDIT sorry, didnt notice someone already posted it, my bad!

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