Teaching Comics, Zine-making and Visual Literacy at OSF

In autumn 2017, I taught a four week comics course at the Oasis Skateboard Factory, an alternative highschool within the Toronto District Schoolboard. OSF has a project-focused curriculum, so our comic project was multifaceted, to approach multiple curriculum aspects.

Over the course of the four weeks, we read Emily Carroll‘s Through the Woods, and Mike Mignola‘s Hellboy: The Chained Coffin. Through class discussion and on-paper exercises we analyzed stories from each book and discussed the different ways they approached the horror genre. Using collaborative drawing exercises we discussed cartooning, and we spent a full session going over visual literacy in terms of composition, colour choice, value and related concerns. We then used the story tools we’d developed in analysis to help each student write a short two page horror comic story, which they drew and prepared for risograph printing.

Once the files were all ready, a smaller group of students joined me and one of the program heads, Lauren Hortie, at OCADU to print the comic with their risograph machine and the help of the print technicians. The students then collated and bound the books, and they were launched at The Beguiling in November 2017. You can see some photos from the book launch on the OSF blog here.

Huge thanks to Lauren and Craig of OSF, to The Beguiling and Page and Panel for helping me find books that would work with the program and the horror theme and then hosting the launch party afterwards, and to OCADU for helping us do such a big print project on a tight turnaround, while also providing a great learning experience for the students that came along for that stage.