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Rough Drafts

Here are rough draft pages for another comic I am drawing for release in 2010: THE WORLD WAR I WEB. And I’m inviting any teacher to let their class EDIT these pages to help me make the book better!

The rough drafts you see here are the second step in my Creative Trail. (The first is research! When I pick a topic, I love the hunt for information I will use to tell the story the way I want to tell it.) I hope that inviting students into this second step will help classes across the country build their writing skills as they review mine. 😉 Teachers can print these pages and give them to students to review and correct. Now, for once, the students get to be the editor! I’d love to get feedback from teachers and students via email or via a snail mail return of the pages, marked in red.

I will take all suggestions into consideration before making my final author’s choices on these pages. Classes who make real contributions to this story will get signed copies of the final book!

The cover of a book is an important first look at the author’s subject. A cover must grab a reader’s attention — but not bog them down with too many details up front. What information do you see on this rough draft of the cover for THE WORLD WAR I WEB? Look at how I have struggled to find a word to finish the title – what ideas do you get from the word “Web”? Is there a better word to describe the mess of World War I? This will be the first comic to feature both Chester the Crab and my new character, John Lee Otter. Is it clear what they are doing on the cover?

I’m posting three pages from my current project, The World War I Web, in order. These pages are from the second chapter, when the battlefield clash really heats up. Is it clear what action happens first, second, third? Is there information we should add to make this part of the war clearer? How important do you think color will be to the telling of this story — and what colors would you use? (Classes can color in these rough drafts with colored pencils and send those to me, too!)

I hope students can check through these pages and ask themselves: Are all the words spelled correctly? Does the story on this page make sense? Is it drawn clearly or is the flow of the story confusing? How could the story be told better? I ask myself those questions on every page I rough draft! (It usually takes me a week to rough draft a whole 20-page story that fills one of my paperback comix.)

Is the sound effect at the top of the page clear – do you get the joke in the way I wrote it? Can you tell why the Battle of the Somme started so badly for the British soldiers? Does this page do a good job explaining why tanks seemed like such a good idea for this war? What would you do to tell this part of the story better?

This idea to ask students to collaborate on one of my rough drafts comes after many years of speaking to school groups. I usually get just an hour, and that’s only enough time to do Q-n-A about what I’ve done to create 27 history comix. I usually don’t get to see what students can do themselves. I hope this interactive project gets to that deeper level. Teachers seem keen to have me connect my work with the writing and planning students do in class; having students check over my own pages is more than a peek behind the curtain of creativity — it should help them exercise their own creative muscles and authorship discipline.

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Bentley Boyd, Illustrator
Bentley Boyd, Illustrator
Owner of Chester Comix, LLC

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