Write and Draw Your Own Comics

Usborne Write and Draw Your Own Comics by Louie Stowell

Earlier this year, I was a consultant on Write and Draw Your Own Comics, a book created by the talented Louie Stowell, plus a range of brilliant artists, for the children’s publisher Usborne. I’m very pleased to announce that Write and Draw Your Own Comics is now available for purchase. In the UK, you can pick up a copy from Amazon or other outlets; in Australia and New Zealand try Booktopia, Dymocks, and Paperplus.

Tracy Dawson of Parkes High School Library has already linked Write and Draw Your Own Comics to the Aussie curriculum, too – click the link in the tweet below to find out more.


Neill Cameron’s How To Make Awesome Comics goes together with Louie’s book, to quote Grease, “like rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong”. You can get it from Neill’s own site and the Book Depository might be your best bet for international orders. You can also get a taste of Neill’s approach to visual literacy via the worksheets which he kindly shared on this very site.

How To Make Awesome Comics by Neill Cameron

Give both Louie and Neill’s books to a child for Christmas, and you will be remembered forever, as shoobop sha wadda wadda yippity boom de boom.

More exciting comics news – advanced level comic bookery!

Unflattening by Nick Sousanis

Further exciting comics news! Nick SousanisUnflattening, “an experiment in visual thinking”, weaves together allusions, allegories, and visual references in an extended comic-book essay on how we perceive and engage with the world. Unflattening is out in March next year, so bookmark the Unflattening product page at Harvard University Press and be ready to place an order. There’s really nothing quite like it. In the meantime, you can also go check out Nick’s website, Spin, Weave, and Cut.

Chang chang changitty chang shoobop. That’s the way it should be….

Fun Palaces 2014 launch in Parkes, Australia

We’ve had an amazing start to the Fun Palaces weekend here in rural Australia. So far, since our doors opened, over 260 people have come to try their hand at the challenges we devised together with local kids. That’s great numbers for a small rural community.

To see how we got to this point, check out the previous posts on making games with your community and adapting tabletop roleplay for your library.

You can check out pictures from today at Parkes Library’s Instagram account…and there’ll be more from Australia’s first Fun Palace tomorrow!

Parkes Fun Palaces: Tabletop Supervillains

It’s the big day! Three hours from now, Australia’s first Fun Palace opens in Parkes Shire Library, New South Wales.

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Games designed and built by local kids and teens will be on display for the community to have a go over the holiday weekend. There’s also a chance to try Parkes Library classics like Paint Like Michelangelo, a dinosaur dig, and a few more surprises besides.

Events have a supervillainous theme this year because many of our activities were inspired by British author Louie Stowell’s book The School For Superheroes, so we’ll also be rolling out a superhero-themed tabletop roleplaying game. We worked with local teens to devise, design, and test this game, which is quick to learn, easy to play, and inspired by the work of sci-fi writer, activist, and journalist Cory Doctorow.

The game will be available for the whole community to play in or out of the library after the Fun Palace closes, and we’ll aim to share both the game and our design process online as soon as possible. In the meantime watch @parkeslibrary and @drmattfinch on Twitter for the latest updates over the long weekend!

In the meantime, let me leave you with a personal favourite from our pre-launch photo gallery.

The Parkes Shire Library is sponsored by a number of organisations including Charles Sturt University…which led to this glorious caption card on one exhibit of the kids’ games.

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What’s She Building In There? – Parkes Library Fun Palace Next Week!

Next week, the national award winning team at Parkes Library host their first ever Fun Palace event. As you can see from the photos, we’re currently hard at work preparing…

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Fun Palaces take place on the weekend of 4th and 5th October 2014. You’ll find them in theatres, libraries, museums, and public spaces around the world. They give people the chance to take part in the exciting business of art and science, wherever they live. Thanks to the wonder of time zones, Parkes will be the first Fun Palace in the world to open its doors.

Theatre director Joan Littlewood and architect Cedric Price came up with the idea of Fun Palaces in the UK, back in the 1960s. They imagined “a laboratory of fun” that would serve as a pop-up community venue for both art and science.

The Parkes team will give the concept an Aussie spin, drawing on their tradition of immersive and interactive play. In previous years, Parkes’ librarians have organised thrilling zombie sieges and Godzilla battles. I designed these interactive games for Parkes with the idea that young players would generate unpredictable outcomes.

This year we’re putting even more power into the hands of children and young people. Over three days next week, Parkes Library staff will help local kids create their own challenges for the weekend Fun Palace.

Our events are inspired by British author Louie Stowell‘s book The School for Supervillains. Each day has a different supervillainous theme.

Local teens will join library staff in mentoring younger participants, too. We’ve always been keen on the idea of mixed-age play, pitting teens against kids in 2013’s Big Box Battle. It’s really exciting that “graduates” from our previous games are now volunteering their time as Fun Palace mentors.

On the weekend itself, Parkes kids will share their creations with the whole community. There’ll be a special roleplaying event drawing on the inspiration of games like Dungeons and Dragons. There’ll also be a chance for families to try out some of Parkes Library’s greatest hits, including a dinosaur dig and “Paint Like Michelangelo“, plus a few more surprises besides. Many of our activities can be copied at home without fuss or expense, so that the spirit of fun continues beyond the weekend!

As you can tell from the photos, we’re still putting the finishing touches to next week’s event – plus, we aren’t going to over-plan. We want to be surprised and amazed by all the unexpected things our participants devise!

Stay tuned to this blog for more details next week – with a special pre-Fun Palace blog post on Friday 3rd October.

In the meantime, you can find out more about Fun Palaces at the international homepage and visit the Parkes Fun Palace page online.