Behind the scenes with Captain Polo: using surprise to reach the reader

by | May 21, 2020

My mission is to bring environmentally oriented educational facts and inspiration to kids of all ages all the way up to 99 years old. For this to work, I need to be very careful to shake things up all the time. I create comic books, but even a comic book can be boring.

At the end of the day, a comic is just another kind of format to tell a story. The key element is storytelling.

This is what I tell my students when I deliver a comic-making workshop. People’s most common fear is lack of artistic ability: ‘but I can’t draw!‘ they wail. ‘I can only draw stick figures!‘ they moan.

My answer: you don’t need to be a great artist to make a great comic. Stick figures are fine!

You do need, however, to get the basic storytelling elements right. The comic can be as simple and short as you like, but it must have a compelling start, a roller coaster middle, and a satisfying ending. The latter can be strong and closed, or mysterious and open, but it can’t just be the story fizzling out.

And again, you can do all of this using stick figures.

This blog is on the back of another author insight book bubble from my latest comic The Adventures of Polo the Bear: a Story of Climate Change. This book bubble is all about the moment in Cairo souk when someone steals Polo’s cap. What does this have to do with anything? Not much, and that’s exactly the point!

Click here to find out what on Earth I’m talking about!