Today in my morning class we discussed the graphic novel (pretentious way of saying “comic book for those of you not in the know…) and then they scripted a first page to one of their own. After they scripted it, we sat down together at my Mac and began creating it.

“How did you do that?” you ask?

Cynthia Nugent had told me about a fancy program for crafting comics called “Comic Life” by Plasq. This sounded like a program that was right up my alley (being a comic book fiend and all), so I downloaded the trial version. There are three variations of the program: Comic Life, Comic Life Deluxe, and Comic Life Magiq. The latter one seemed to work best for me, so that’s the one I’ve been playing with.

At first I was scared of the program. It looked way too difficult for someone of my (ahem) limited artistic ability, but I delved in bravely anyway. In reward, as is everything with a Mac, the program responded with ease and I was on my way to designing comic creations within minutes. This is one of my first creations:

The ease with which you can manipulate photos is fantastic. With a few clicks you can extract people from backgrounds, add cool text, add a filter to make a photo look like a painting (or drawing) and place bubbles and captions to tell the story.

My only problem was trying to make templates, as I didn’t fully grasp how that worked. I emailed Cynthia about it, and she suggested that I email the fine folks at plasq and ask them. So I did, not expecting a response for several days if not weeks. To my surprise, the response came within a few hours. They were helpful and quite pleasant to deal with.

In short, Comic Life is a program that has transformed my life. Seriously! As someone who is trying to write graphic novels, it helps me to decide what it working and what isn’t. I can test out my ideas and tweak wherever necessary. As well, as an instructor, it has given me a fun way to introduce a writing topic that is extremely challenging to students who don’t have any drawing ability. All they need is a digital photo, they can take pictures of themselves acting out the scenes, and … voila! … they have a graphic novel!

Here is one of the graphic novels from my class:

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