Renowned cartoonist holds comic art workshops for “NEA Virtual Summer Reading 2021: Tails and Tales”

Left: Cartoonist Aaron Polk will lead virtual workshops for kids and teens as a part of the Stillwater Public Library’s “NEA Virtual Summer Reading 2021: Tails and Tales.” Right: Katherine Battenberg from the Midtown School of Performing Arts presents Bounce’n Beethoven’s parent and child music and movement class for ages 0 to 5 years.

Story provided by Stillwater Public Library

Comic books and graphic novels can help spark an interest in reading, especially for reluctant readers. Combining art and literature can also enhance information retention for visual learners and provide readers with creative inspiration. 

Join the Stillwater Public Library and New York Times Bestselling cartoonist and colorist for “Dog Man” books Aaron Polk as he guides kids and teens through the fundamentals of professional comic book creation with online workshops. The program for kids in grades 1-5 will be held Tuesday, June 8, and the teen version for grades 6-12 takes place Wednesday, June 9. Both workshops start at 2 p.m. Space is limited, and registration is required so participants can receive the Zoom link to participate live and have time to pick up a bag of art supplies at the Library.

Individuals who cannot attend can watch a recorded version of the workshop via the Library’s website and YouTube page for one week after the event. Librarians will post videos 24-hours after the workshop ends. Attendees will also receive a secret code to enter into BookPoints, the Library’s online reading platform, for a raffle drawing prize entry.

Workshop participants will learn how to build a visual story and create mini-comics. Part of the goal is also to show that people of all shapes, sizes, and colors have awesome stories to share with the world.

Polk became interested in comics as a child, which the artist gives his mother credit for.

“I struggled heavily with learning to read (and enjoying reading) because I was dyslexic,” said Polk. “My mom got me to read a favorite comic from her childhood, ‘The Adventures of Tintin,’ as a way to help my reading comprehension and enjoyment.”

Polk started making his own comics and finding ways to share his love of the art form with others.

“I began using comics as a tool to teach and impact my local community in a positive manner,” said Polk. I eventually got involved with several local comic shows that were dedicated to opening up the medium to people of all ages, genders and backgrounds.”

Teen Librarian Jessica Howe selects comics for the Library’s collection and has seen an increase in their popularity in recent years.

“The genre has grown a lot,” said Howe. “Not just in the number of books being created either. Comics and graphic novels are incredibly diverse covering a wide variety of topics, main characters and artistic styles. There really is something for everybody.”

Polk agrees that comics are inclusive and suggests that the misconception about comics being a world for boys about superheroes is inaccurate.

“Comics are open to everyone,” said Polk. “I love teaching people, especially young people, how to create comics because it gives them an opportunity to create art without judgment, express themselves creatively and make a form of art that is interesting and individual.”

The arts also come alive for the youngest library users with a virtual music and movement program. The first class of Bounce’n Beethovens premieres on Saturday, June 5, at 10:30 a.m. Participants do not need to register for the program. Instead, they can watch via the Library’s YouTube Channel. The Library will also share the video on Facebook. To make the class more interactive, stop by the Library to pick up a supply kit of a dance scarf and shaker egg while supplies last.

Register for the workshops and learn more about the Library’s Summer Reading Program, including a full schedule of virtual summer fun at http://library.stillwater.org/summer_@_your_library.php.

Those interested in learning more about Aaron Polk can visit his website at http://aaronpolk.art or come to the Library to borrow some of the books that he has worked on, including “Dog Man” by Dav Pilkey, the graphic novel “Hawking” by Jim Ottaviani and “InvestiGATORS” by John Green.

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). To find out more about how NEA grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov

The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. Library hours are Monday- Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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