Students self-publish comics to get youth reading more

Over the last month students at Bishop Klein School designed their own comic books — complete with 3D printed characters and short, stop-motion movies — to promote youth literacy in Saskatoon.

DC Comics artist Tom Grummett makes special appearance for student Comic-Con

Grade 5 to 8 students at Bishop Klein School in Saskatoon showed off their comics to the entire school and to DC Comics artist Tom Grummett. (Don Somers/CBC)

A Saskatoon school held its own version of Comic-Con showcasing student-made comics promoting youth literacy in the Bridge City.

Over the last month students at Bishop Klein School designed their own comic books — complete with 3D printed characters and short, stop-motion movies.

On Thursday the school invited Saskatoon's own DC Comics artist Tom Grummett to sit down with students and answer questions. He also shared his story about how he came to work for one of the world's leading comic book publishers.

"The short answer is, I was lucky enough after toiling around in small press publishing in the mid 80s, I met a writer and artist that lived in Toronto and he was kind enough to pass my stuff on to his editor at DC Comics," Grummett said, adding that's how he started freelancing for DC Comics.
Saskatoon's Tom Grummett stopped in to look at the comic book projects by students as well as answer questions and share his story of becoming a professional comic book artist for DC Comics. (Don Somers/CBC)

Now Grummett's work can be seen in titles such as The New Titans and the Adventures of Superman.

Grummett told CBC News comics was how he started reading, writing and drawing and comic books have been passed down his family through generations.

"Comics are reader-breeders," Grummett said. "My kids grew up with comic books in the house. They are both voracious readers and my grandkids have grown up with comic books in the house."

He added comics are a great stepping stone especially for young readers because the beautiful artwork draws the kids in and hopefully the story keeps them hungry for more.

"It's not a big stretch to go from Batman to The Three Musketeers or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and then onwards from there. You can do worse than put a comic book in the hands of a kid."

Blessie Carino produced a comic book about banishing negativity from the world. She said she wanted to both inspire other kids to read as well as have a more positive outlook.

"I wanted to inspire other people because my comic book is about negativity and trying to get it out of people because the world would be a better place if there was more positivity in the world," Carino said.
On top of comic books students also designed and had figurines printed on a 3D printer to accompany their work. (Don Somers/CBC)

Carino added kids would likely get more involved in reading at younger ages if they started with comic books rather than long hundred-page novels.

"Comics are more interesting than novels, but novels are good to read too. But if you're more on the fun side and in the mood for reading more creative than I would go with comics," she said.