Voluntary Work: Knock Knock Joke Comic Strips

The Brief
I recently had a chance to volunteer at a local youth club for young people, I decided to use the session as a way to experiment and create building blocks for my dissertation work. So I worked with the young people to create a comic strip, the challenge was to make a 3 panel comic strip with 2 characters telling a knock knock joke to one another. Now this sounds like an admittedly simple task, boy was I wrong.

Having written and drawn comic books in the past I thought this would be a cake walk for me personally, obviously it was going to be a challenge in that I was walking a group of young people through the process as well but I thought the strip itself was going to be easy. Just as we got started one of young people chirped up and said “But drawing two people just talking to each other is boring”, he was right a lot of us had just drawn 2 people stood talking, very little expression and very little differences in the poses.

The solution to this was to ask the young people draw a sheet of facial expressions that I called out, looking at each other for reference if needed, this was fun as we all spent time drawing and pulling faces at each other. Follpwing this exercise, I challenged the young people to draw stick men in poses that reflected different moods. Taking what we had learnt from these exercises we drew our 3 panels and illustrated the Knock Knock Joke using nothing but stick men with simple expressions. These stick men were then traced over adding more flesh and shape to the two characters, over the top of this drawing we drew over top a more finalised line drawing with black fineliners. To finish the image, we traced over the previous line work once more giving us chance to fix any problems and leaving use with a finished drawing with no messy under-drawing.

My Results
These are the 3 stages of my drawings for the knock knock joke brief. The drawings not my best but it was done alongside teaching a group of young people and helping them out so I don’t mind and overall I’m pleased.

Step 1: Drawing expression with stick men and simple faces


Step 2: Fleshing Out the Characters

Step 3: Finalised Image

Surprising Conclusions
Now despite this being the first of this type of comic strip I had attempted I was confident it was going to be easy, however I had overlooked a lot of things. So I was humbled a little and now have a few personal exercises I want to work on and know more about what I need to develop in the characters in the concept stage.

Facial Expressions: I want to spend some time drawing different types of cartoon faces in lots of different expressions covering a wide range of emotions. Then when the concept of the 2 characters is finalised produce a series of character sheets with the 2 main characters replicating as many of these facial expressions as I can.

Emotive Poses:  Again I want to spend time drawing a few sheets of stick men in different poses then move up to a series of more fleshed out poses all showing a different range of emotions. This to will be done using the finialised characters to make sure they can express these emotions to.

Talking with Hands: Now one of the points made was that 2 people talking to each other is boring to see, which is not entirely true. Seeing 2 very animated people talking to each other you see some very interesting hand gestures used to punctuate and express points. I think some research needs to be done on this and it should lead to more interesting stills of conversation when I come to start drawing the weekly web-comic.

Finally is a drawing I did as a demonstration to a young person showing that you don’t need to good at anatomy to have fun drawing comics. This is a nod back to previous work I had done with single images containing humour and satire.

Two Knights engaged in banter

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