The longest project of last semester was my 6th grade Manga lesson. As soon as I found out that Cultural Heritage Week would focus on East Asian cultures, I wanted to teach about Manga. I read a great article that was published in Art Education in 2001 on Manga as part of Visual Culture and was immediately interested. Manga is basically a Japanese comic book, the print form of Anime.
*Did you know that Manga is read top to bottom but from right to left?
I ordered a couple of books on drawing Manga with some PTO money and also found some video tutorials from Sakura useful. (You can find the videos on my Asian Art Ideas Pinterest board.)
I was planning on this project taking 3 classes but it ended up requiring 4. The first day was introduction and explanation of all the choices. The students could choose to tell a whole story in multiple panels on their page, tell part of a story in multiple panels, or focus on one character with a speech or thought bubble. If the students decided to tell a story, I asked them to make a simple list of what would happen in each frame. It's a lot easier to tell a story in comic form if you know what needs to happen! The next class and usually part of the 3rd were spent drawing with pencil. When everything was planned in pencil, the students checked with me and started tracing with sharpie after they were approved.
TIP- Have the students trace the words inside their bubbles before they trace the bubble itself. Students tend to write small, forgetting that tracing in sharpie makes it spread a bit. If the words end up too big, they can always redraw the bubble.
Violence is an issue that needs to be addressed with this project. Lots of anime has fighting in it. I told the students if they had people fighting in their story, it could not end with someone getting hurt. I asked them to think of a surprise ending that's more appropriate for school.
I really, really love this project. It allowed the students to learn about Manga as an important part of Visual Culture, practice a style of drawing different from strict observation, incorporated writing and story telling, and they were able to show their interests. Some of the drawings were funny or silly, some a little, well, shallow, but I found many to be very honest. I had several students tell me their drawing was based on a true story, and several showed insecurities or vulnerabilities. It was nice to see from my 6th graders who are starting to suffer from the elementary school version of Senioritis.
Some of the drawings were a bit puzzling. The following drawing was described as a true story. I think maybe inspired by a true story since anyone old enough to have a married ex would probably not ask their mom for permission to go to the mall. :)