I'm a great fan of Bill Zimmerman. He has a wonderful website called MakeBeliefsComix which I described in Make Your Own Comic at MakeBeliefsComix and Practise Languages at MakeBeliefsComix. So I was thrilled to see that Bill has created a new book, Your Life in Comics, 100 Things for Guys to Write and Draw. It's been published by free spirit publishing and the art work is by Tyler Page.
What’s more fun than reading comics? Making your own.
Most other books give you all the words and illustrations so you don’t have a say about what happens. Your Life in Comics isn’t like that. Instead it’s an interactive comic book where you can tell stories from your own life. There are also cartoons where you get to decide what happens to other characters. Fill in the talk and thought balloons to show what people say and think—their fate is in your hands! Other fun freestyle activities let you doodle, make lists, and write about cool stuff in your life.
What I love about this book is that it targets boys, (recommended for ages 9-13) and does so in such a way as to encourage them to express their feelings in writing (and images.) I'm not saying girls wouldn't want to use the book too; in fact, I know I would have loved something like this as a kid. But the characters are mostly male. It's often important to boys that they can identify with "boy things", so this book could be perfect for them.
Essentially, Your Life in Comics offers kids prompts for writing and drawing in comic formats. I like the variety - there are activities that focus on personal achievements, sports, and embarrassing moments, as well as starters for narratives. There are also opportunities to draw comic pictures inside frames, add to started comics, and design cool stuff. Included at the back of the book are a range of different blank templates.
I love the fascinating suggestions sprinkled throughout, ideas that might start kids on designing their own websites or discovering more about inventions, codes and virtual worlds. I really enjoyed Page's art work too - it's quirky, expressive, and fun, yet leaves lots of room for a kid's own work.
This book would make a great resource for teachers, keen to find prompts they can use with boys. I think it would also make an ideal gift for boys who love comics, and might be just what they need to get them started in using the comic format to express themselves. The website also has free templates to download. It's fantastic when publishers offer freebies to kids, parents and teachers like this!
GIVEAWAY: In conjunction with this review, I'm pleased to offer one Australian reader a copy of Your Life in Comics. To enter, send me an email via Contact Me tab above, with "comics contest" in the subject line, and with your name and email address included, so I can contact you for your postal details if you win. Winner drawn and notified December 10, 2010.