Drawing Improv Games at Hosea

Hosea is a youth drop in center in Eugene, Oregon.

I went there this last Wednesday to volunteer my time and get more experience working with teens. Many of these teens are homeless, some are people of color, and some identify as LGBT.  That doesn’t really matter though, because I have found that people of all backgrounds enjoy comics!

When you go to a group of kids with the vague idea of “drawing together” or having “art time,” some will be confused or uninspired. “uh, now what do I do?” “I always draw guns.” “I don’t know what to draw.” It isn’t very innovative or artistic to ask kids to follow along with you and draw the same tree, or boat or whatever that you do. That would be “Product Oriented,” and not creative. These games are “process oriented,” no one has no idea where you will end up. These games can break the ice and warm people up, challenge them and get some real belly laughs too!

Here are some of the comics they made while following the rules of my games. Keep in mind they are between the ages of 16 and 19 and may be school dropouts.

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the captions read: “I’m having trouble being funny”
The stickman convention’s annual keynote speaker’s speech was interrupted by a loud invisible ghost who blew clouds.
So the ghosts from Pac man came to take the little man off the cliff

I give kids lots of encouragement” I love the language in this! You did a great job of taking a sentence and creating a whole scene, with many characters.” and some advice- I would suggest you draw your characters larger, put in details, facial expressions and fill the panel with your image.

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“This is fantastic! Way to give the cat a silly name and decide that the water was Blueberry. Goofy, silly words make the whole thing more exciting!”

The rules go like this: Have players write a sentence at the TOP of a piece of paper then pass it to the left in a circle of four or more. Ask kids to write a sentence that has both a verb (action word) and an adjective (a describing word). If you were in school you could require them to use one of their recent vocabulary words, or ask that it be tied to something they have learned recently in social studies.

When you receive a paper with a sentence at the top, draw an illustration using all the elements. Try to be specific, avoid using words, Show don’t tell. Try to use only 1/5 of the paper, but if your illustration has to be big- let it be the  size it wants to be. Then fold the paper so that the sentence at the top cannot be seen. You pass to another player who writes a sentence explaining what she sees in your  drawing. Use specifics. I try to discourage sentences like “A cat.” or “I see a box.” Or “it’s a burrito.” The paper goes around, alternating illustration, sentence, illustration, sentence.

 

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Papers can be taped together and the collective consciousness can be followed. This game can have some amazing results. Image

 

4 Scene Stories  (for groups of 4)
Fold the paper into fourths,  have the students label each square 1,2 ,3,4. from left to right as illustrated below. Image

 

 

In panel four tell the students to write an “ending” to a story. Encourage them to use both words and pictures, and to fill the whole panel. Then fold it so that the panel marked 1 is showing and to pass it to another player.

The student who receives a 1 from his or her neighbor, will now write the beginning of a story. When they are done, have them fold it, so that theirs is showing and the empty panel 2 is showing.

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I believe the second panel reads “But they still where rocking alone The crowd was smushed”

 

Now a player must draw a panel continuing the story in panel one. Try to include the same elements and imitate their drawing style, or at least make something logical that follows. 

 

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I really love the first panel in this one, its so cliche, starts just the way an old sci-fi tv show or comic would.

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the first panel makes no sense, so who can blame the panel 2 author for going Non sequitur, but then, somehow the ending does make the whole thing work.

Then the page is opened up and a fourth player is asked to make the beginning make sense with the end. How can you resolve it? Try and come up with a way to make the beginning tie into the ending! I have left these comics with their 3rd panel blank so you can give it a try.

Some ideas for taking the game further:

When they are at this “3/4 of the way done” stage, you could make a copy of each comic for each person playing. Then everyone can compare the different ways they would have the beginning tie into the ending. Each student could take one and challenge themselves to make a “final draft” form, taking inspiration from the composition and leaving the words the same, but they are free to add more detail and fix spelling or grammar issues. One of these could form the basis for a longer comic, or skit, where the content comes from the kids.

If you play games like this, or have made up your own, or try my games out and have suggestions, or just want to write me, you can at strangecharm99@gmail.com

 

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