Graphic novelist Faith Erin Hicks holds Comic Writing workshop at Festival of Words
Surrounded by a group of teenagers and adults, Faith Erin Hicks inked a shape in her notebook.
© Times-Herald photo by Lisa Goudy
Geena Heinrich, 15 (left), and Katarhyna Ehmann, 13, listen as Faith Erin Hicks, graphic novelist, discusses various techniques for comic writing and drawing at a session on July 17, 2014 at the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre as part of the 18th annual Saskatchewan Festival of Words.
“I’m very messy as I draw and that’s fine,” she said as she formed a curve. “Some artists are very neat and that’s fine too.”
Hicks, a graphic novelist, finished her outline before demonstrating various drawing tools with different thicknesses during her session, Comic Writing, at the Saskatchewan Festival of Words on Thursday.
“It seems pretty cool so far,” said 15-year-old Geena Heinrich as she watched Hicks work. “I’m interested in drawing and I’m trying to write stories now.”
Along with her mother and brother, Heinrich came to the festival for the first time from their home in Davidson. Heinrich particularly enjoys drawing animals and werewolves. She enjoyed learning about different inks and pens to use.
“It’s an interesting thing to come and see,” said Heinrich. “I usually use just the regular lead pencil and a Sharpie pen and then I touch it up on my phone. I have this app.”
Katarhyna Ehmann from Regina said the workshop was “awesome” and her favourite part was “everything.”
“My friend invited me and I didn’t know about it and I got interested,” said Ehmann, who is 13. “Usually when I’m bored or have nothing to do I draw on my phone and do digital art.”
Her favourite things to draw are fantasy characters, video game characters and animals.
Hicks’s goal was to encourage people to start drawing comics.
“I’m hoping to communicate that comics are many things. They can be whatever the creator would like them to be. Sometimes people have the perception that comics are just superheroes,” she said. “If you’re interested in comics, but maybe not superhero comics, that’s fine.”
Originally she only used pencil and ink, but now she also works on a Cintiq, which is a giant monitor that she draws on.
“So I pencil digitally and then I print the pencils out onto basically a giant sheet of paper and I ink traditionally and then send the pages off to my publisher,” said Hicks.
She shared some of her techniques and tricks to the participants
“I’m always excited to see people, especially teenage girls, enthusiastic about comics,” she said. “Now publishers are really starting to understand that girls read comics, they buy comics and you should make comics that are not exclusive to girls, but comics that are for everyone.”
As a teenager, she was always attracted to comics and the idea of comics, but never really found anything for her as a reader. Nowadays, the diversity in the comic world is changing and growing.
“It’s always really cool when book festivals have a comic element to them. I feel like comics are emerging on the literary landscape and people, especially librarians, are becoming very enthusiastic about it,” said Hicks. “That’s wonderful to see. I feel it’s a very important step in comics becoming a mainstream art form.”
The festival is Hicks’ first time to Saskatchewan.
“It’s very flat,” she said with a laugh. “No, it’s been very nice. The weather is actually a lot nicer. I’m from Nova Scotia. It was very cold when I left. So it was nice coming in (Wednesday) when it was in the high-20s.”
Kids learn more about writing in session
Ten-year-old Reggie Heinrich hopes to improve his writing.
He was one of seven participants in the Kids Ink writing workshop for ages 10 to 13 with Beverley Brenna on Thursday at the Saskatchewan Festival of Words.
“I thought it’d be fun because we write stories in school and maybe I can get better here,” said Heinrich. “I just like writing stories.”
He particularly enjoyed learning ideas on how to brainstorm.
“I just have got the best group of writers,” said Brenna. “These are volunteer young people who have come in to participate in a writing workshop that is three hours long. So to volunteer on a school holiday and be here at nine in the morning shows quite a bit of commitment, I think, to their craft.”
Brenna is the author of more than 10 young adult books and teaches in the College of Education at the University of Saskatchewan. Some of her books include Wild Orchid, The Keeper of Trees, The Moon Children, Spider Summer and The White Bicycle. The latter was a finalist for the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award and was nominated for the 2013 Saskatoon Book Awards for young adult literature.
At her session on Thursday, Brenna said she focused on issues in writing, such as naming characters and writer’s block, brainstorming and different types of narratives and poetry techniques. They also did an exercise of one-word-at-a-time collaborative stories.
“Sometimes the writing process feels tentative. When we’re writing narrative we’re not sure where it’s going and rather than be afraid of not knowing, we just start and see where the story takes us,” said Brenna.
She did a Kids Ink workshop many years ago at the festival as well and has been at the festival as a participant twice.
“It’s a really positive thing, I think, supporting writers of all ages,” said Brenna.
Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.