- Associated Press - Sunday, October 11, 2015

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - The kids at the Parkersburg Boys and Girls Club will spring into action as they create their own comic books as part of a new program being offered through Artsbridge.

The program was introduced on Oct. 6 at the club facility at 1200 Mary St. by Executive Director Ben Shuman.

Comic book artist Michael Easton will be working with club members every Tuesday and Thursday, starting Oct. 20, in writing and creating their own comic book.

“It will be one that is professionally printed so you can have it for a long time to come,” Shuman said.

Easton will be working with the kids up until just before the Christmas holiday.

“I will be teaching you how to draw, illustrate and write your own comic book, from beginning to end,” Easton told the kids on Oct. 6. “By the end of the program you will have a finished product in your own hands.”

Easton said he wants to teach them about the different ways they can tell stories and also wants to work with them to develop their ideas and turn those into a comic book story.

“I want to show them the steps of a comic book,” he said, from coming up with an idea, developing the story, how to draw it and everything that goes into creating a comic book.

The kids have the option of working in pairs, with one person writing and another person drawing, or working solo where one person is doing everything, Shuman said.

The program will be divided into two groups, fourth-graders up to 12-years-old in one group and teens from ages 13 through high school in the other. The younger group will meet from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and teens will be 6:30-7:30 p.m. There is space for 25-30 kids in each group.

“The program will be geared to the skill and talent of those age groups,” Shuman said.

Participants have to be club members.

“If a kid would be interested in signing up for this program, they can become a club member and sign up at the same time,” Shuman said.

Both boys and girls have an interest in comic books these days, said Artsbridge Program Coordinator Kathy Reeder.

“Our mission is to promote the arts in the community and in the schools,” she said.

Officials with Artsbridge have been talking about doing a comic book class. The willingness of the Boys and Girls Club to be a part of it provided Artsbridge with both participants and a venue to hold the classes, Reeder said.

“We want the kids to gain an appreciation of how long it takes to do something like a comic book,” she said. “Also, we want them to be able to develop their reading and writing skills.

“Anytime we can promote the arts as well as the academic side it is a win-win.”

Shuman said the kids will be able to hold and look at what they have produced. Organizers also want the kids to look at their own lives to draw inspiration from in doing their comic book, whether it is honoring someone who had an impact on their lives or to explore aspects of their own lives where they would have liked someone, like a superhero, to come in and affect some kind of positive change in their own lives.

“They are going to get a finished produced work of their own, professionally printed and they can really be proud of,” he said. “Beyond that we want them to look at the possibility of the arts as careers.

“We want the kids to understand that with some perseverance, practice and expansion of the talents they already have, they can do something like this and get paid for in the future. This is a career path they could eventually do for themselves.”


Information from: News and Sentinel (Parkersburg, W.Va.), https://www.newsandsentinel.com

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