Powhatan School in Boyce, Va., will host its 4th Graphic Novelists Workshop on Friday, March 3, from 12:30 to 4:30 pm. The workshop costs $25 per participant and is open to all students in grades 3rd through high school are invited to attend. Participating students will attend sessions with each of the presenting graphic novelists and have the opportunity to use what they have learned to create their own graphic novelette. Registration for the workshop is online at www.PowhatanLibraryOnline.com
Presenting graphic novelists include Hobbes Holluck, Carolyn Belefski and Art Hondros.
Below, we chatted with Tracie Chloel Lane, library media specialist at Powhatan, who has spearheaded the annual workshop.
How did the idea for these comics workshops originate?
Several years ago, one of my students came across Trickster, and bought a copy for our library. The donation was quickly followed with a “Ms. Lane, you should get this guy to come visit our school.” Engaging my investigative skills, I logged into Facebook, and typed Matt Dembicki into the search feature, thus beginning my side job stalking graphic novelists and authors so I could lure them to our school. The resulting author visit ignited our students. Our graphic novel collection was born. And an idea formed. The following year, we invited Matt back and asked him to bring a couple friends. It was our first Graphic Novelist Workshop @ Powhatan School.
|Tracie Chloel Lane|
The workshop format is really great for the participants. Author visits are wonderful. They give students the opportunity to meet and learn about the authors of the books they read and love. A workshop takes that visit to a deeper level. It gives young people the opportunity to learn from people who are writing the stories that feed their brains and fires up their imaginations. The workshop gives them the opportunity to see themselves as the writer, the illustrator, the creator of books. It demystifies the experience of having a byline on the cover of a book. It gives our children and teens the opportunity to see themselves in that role.
Our Graphic Novelist Workshops spawned our writing workshops that take place in the fall.
What’s been the reaction among the students, teachers, parents?
This is the fourth year we have hosted the Graphic Novelist workshop at Powhatan School. Every year, we have more students and alumni coming than the year before. Several of our students have produced their own graphic novels. One of our young novelists has gone on to sell his work and another is heading off to Virginia Commonwealth University in the fall to study Communication Arts. Our parents and teachers love anything that gets kids reading more, writing more, and enthusiastic about the process.
You always look for ways to add a new spin to the program. Can you briefly outline what you’ve done in the past and your ideas for the upcoming program in March?
|Art by Carolyn Belefski|
This year, I want to take it a step farther. I want to publish a collection of the works of the children and teens that participate in the workshop. To facilitate this goal, we’ve invited a former editor of the Magic Bullet to participate this year.
If other teachers and librarians might be interested in adapted a similar program at their school or library, what advice would you give them on how to get started?
First, they need a Matt. Matt helps me find the up-and-coming (and already there) graphic novelists and editors that I invite to our workshop each year. Visit another graphic novelist workshop. Our program is open to our students and the community at large. Visiting teachers and librarians are welcome at our Workshop (though I may put them to work).
What has been the most challenging part of the program?
|Art by Hobbes Hillock|
Funding. For the first three years we offered the workshop free or with a small fee for expenses. This year, funding has made it necessary to charge a $25 registration fee to cover the costs.