Local Artist Teaches Comic Art To Teenagers
Since October, the Public Library in Arverne has been the place to be for neighborhood teens who are interested in the field of comic art. Every Tuesday, local cartoonist Leigh Walls has been teaching the basics of comic art to budding artists.
"This neighborhood has a lot of talent, a lot of people who are interested in doing something like comics," said Walls.
The program is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to the NYPD’s Weed and Seed program and is in conjunction with the Queens Public Library and the Rockaway Artists Alliance (RAA).
The comic art sessions are more than just art. Academics are also inIn conjunction with the comic art drawing and the cartooning, we are bringing in story telling and literacy, so that it’s not only about the image – but, integrating academics into our programs," pointed out Chris Jeorge, the Education Program Director of the RAA.
"In this case it would be English and literacy."
Writing the story is where Zane Pinnock comes in. His comic work is mostly horror and suspense oriented.
"[I would like to teach them] how to tell a compelling story and how to make it believable," explained Pinnock. "How to marry the words and the art.
"I would like to bang out a story and let the kids illustrate it, once they are ready for it."
Erick Footman is one of the promising artists who are attending the sessions. Like many of the students in the classes, he met Walls at Beach Channel High School when the cartoonist was teaching an art club.
"I started [with drawing] in [MS] 198, and I really got serious at Beach Channel [High School]," said Footman.
"I want to become a game designer and put the characters I make up into video games. If not, [I’d like to] do comic books or a [be a] cartoonist."
Jeorge explained how Walls came to running the comic art workshop.
"Leigh worked with another program that we did last year that culminated with a mural that you can see on Beach 41st Street and Beach Channel Drive," said Jeorge, about the mural that Walls co-designed.
As a Far Rockaway native, Walls is from Beach 61st Street, he is able to relate to those he is teaching.
He went to school at PS 42, St. Rose of Lima and Beach Channel High School. Following High School he attended the School of Visual Arts. "I want to teach them some story telling, what [they] should look for when doing comic pages, what to do [and] what not to do," Walls told The Wave. "[The things] that my teacher told me to look out for.
"[The] short term goal is, I hope, that some of these guys will – with my help, publish an actual book."
The program will conclude its first ten-week workshop on December 30. Jeorge said that it would resume, probably, in February. The current grant is good through June of 2004.
All materials are free of charge, and the sessions currently are held on Tuesdays at 4pm.
The hope, by the end of the first 10-week session, is that a poster for the Queens Public Library will be designed.