Storytelling through Comics and Storyboarding


I'm amazed by kids' innate ability to spontaneously tell stories. Halfway through one of his free-verse stories, 7-year-old Graham paused and said, "Can I make this a comic book?" Having just finished "Understanding Comics" by Scott McCloud, I felt a solemn duty to help him fulfill his request. I gave him a large clipboard, a pen, this storyboard template, a few reference images that he asked for on sticky notes, and got out of his way. 

After about an hour of quiet and intense work, Graham proudly showed me a six-panel storyboard with a sweeping story that wove together Lady Gaga, Elvis, and professional wrestling. (This was interesting in its own right because none of those things are particularly present in our home.) 

Storytelling, like drawing, is a skill that everyone is born with, but withers away without practice and nurturing. A large part of my work is reteaching adults to tell compelling stories of what they do and what they want to achieve. Paul Smith, author of "Lead With A Story," says, "In the world of business, storytelling has emerged as a vital skill for every leader and manager... to sell ideas, communicate a vision for the future, and inspire commitment."

What if, alongside reading, writing, and arithmetic, we educated our kids to be storytellers?

Graphic Jam for Kids with Dyslexia

SDSquared, a dyslexia tutor-student matching service, sponsored a lecture on adaptive technology and a graphic jam on October 21, 2017. OGSystems provided the venue.

2017.10.21 SDSquared Assistive Technology.jpg

The attendingkids participated in the graphic jam and added their drawings to the "What's Hard For You?" section of the graphic recording.

Getting Kids Involved with Work

This month, I taught over a hundred secondary school teachers visual note taking (mind mapping and sketchnoting.) In preparation, I wanted to show how I involve my kids are with my work. Here's the result:

Lunch with Ed Emberely

Good use for an old chart: flip it over and make a drawable tablecloth.  



Stickies visible on the other side of the paper


Dracula is in Ed Emberley's Big Green Drawing Book


Ed Emberley's Big Red Drawing Book


Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Faces

Where's Julie?

The nice thing about facilitating in-residence programs is the quiet nights that offer a chance to work on Julie's Doodles. 


Go Lisey!

How you see yourself is just as important to health and wellbeing as diet and exercise. Check out, an new effort by my friend and colleague, Elise Yanker, to reframe how cancer patients see themselves and the world around them.

Advice from a Hero

 “The only way to learn how to write and draw is by writing and drawing … to persist in the face of continual rejection requires a deep love of the work itself, and learning that lesson kept me from ever taking Calvin and Hobbes for granted when the strip took off years later.”

--Bill Watterson