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Templates are printed out either on a B&W or color laser printer at a local printing shop to create a high quality "master templates." The masters are then photocopied in B&W and distributed to the students. Color photocopying is prohibitively expensive on the scale being used here. In the early days of the program, I used my own B&W laser printer, but it had problems making many images appear too dark. I tried a color inkjet a few times, but this caused problems with the photocopying stage due to streaking and a washed out appearance. A color laser printer for the color templates was able to replicate the colors to a degree that enhanced the photocopies.
Yes. When I entered the comics, I made note of how many of each template were completed in a given session. Templates that received frequent use were "retired" in favor of newer templates. This kept the supply fresh so students didn't get bored.
The older templates I made simply using my mouse and the eraser tool in MS Paint; comics used to be entered with the MS Paint text tool. The newer templates and comics were made in Adobe Photoshop CS with the aid of my WACOM tablet. All recent comics are typed in using the Anime Ace font.
Yes. Sometimes a shirt or background poster will have objectionable language. I use Photoshop to remove this text so I can use what is otherwise a good template.
There are multiple reasons to use templates with art already on them. For one, not every child is artistically inclined. For a child who prefers to write rather than draw, the comic templates allow them to express themselves in the manner most comfortable to themselves.
Second, many of the kids have had little exposure to comics, so they aren't aware of how to properly go from the single sketches they've done in art class into the much more complex comic medium. By exposing them to predrawn comics, they can learn how to arrange and plan out their art. This is similar to Japanese artists who practice their skills by drawing fanart and comics of popular series before creating their own.
Lastly, the CCP sessions were often designed around a certain mechanic in comic making, such as monologues, single panel comics, or the use of captions. Using the comic templates provides a nice standard example that the kids can reference and learn from. As I often tell my kids, I could just throw blank sheets at them and let them go, but I feel it's important to acquaint them with the various comic making tools beforehand.
The chief reason is creative freedom: if I gave a child a Garfield comic, they're going to try and write in the style of a Garfield comic, not something of their own. By presenting them with art that is unfamiliar to them, it keeps them from feeling constrained to emulate a given style and helps them find their own.
Secondly, it's much easier to contact the people who create webcomics than those who work for the large scale syndicates. I try to let artists know how their art is being used. I've had a number of warm wishes and endorsements from the people who've agreed to let their comics be used for the activity. That sort of community spirit is generally lacking from the larger commercial comics.
Another reason I use webcomics is to help promote them. While I don't tell my kids where to find the originals, I do tell them that these comics are from the Internet. This helps open them up to the idea of comics being on the computer and hopefully inspires them to seek some out when they're older.
The Links page has a full list of comics and artwork sites who have given me permission to use.
There are a couple reasons why that alteration was necessary. For one, when the library approved the project, they were worried the CCP might turn into simple advertising for the webcomics. As a result, I do not tell the students the names or any of the comics I use. Also, I remove anything on the images that might indicate where the comics come from.
And second, while the specific templates I use for the CCP are all age appropriate, the associated full webcomics are usually not (the original dialogue may be too risque, other comics in the archives could contain mature artwork, etc.). For this reason, I do not provide my students with information they could use to inadverdently discover the source material. I'm sure they'll stumble across the original comics when they're old enough to start poking around the dark, dank corners of the web.
Note that I provide full copyright info on the main page and provide links to the sites from which I've gotten artwork. I am not removing the copyright information to steal other artists' work. I am taking precautions against children finding inappropriate material.
There are basically three copyrights at work on this webpage. I've placed all original drawings by students under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. This means you can post them elsewhere or even use them as a basis for comic templates for projects of your own, but you should link back to the CCP website and you can not use them in any for-profit enterprises (I'm looking at you, Todd Goldman).
The second copyright is actually a set of copyrights: all the ©'s of the creators whose comics are used in the CCP. These copyrights are the typical commercial copyrights, not the Creative Commons license (except where noted, such as with xkcd). The main reason these comics can be used even under normal copyrights is because a) I got permission beforehand and b) the Fair Use provision that allows for educational uses. Unlike the student-created content, these comics should not be reprinted elsewhere, even for nonprofit uses, without asking the original creators first.
The third copyright is the general one in my name and is a standard copyright. It applies to everything that isn't art related on the site, including the CCP name, site design, blog contents, and other text. You shouldn't copy large amounts of text from this site or the blog without asking me first.
One key feature in order for a comic to be useful for the CCP is large dialogue/thought bubbles. Small bubbles are hard for the students to write in. It's also good if your comic has clearly defined actions and expressions that can stand apart from the dialogue.
If you want to lend your comic to the CCP, contact me. The email to use is: createacomic NOSPAM at gmail dot com. (Remove "nospam," of course.)
For a more detailed look into the inner workings of the CCP, read the Create a Comic Project Blog.