Alexis De Leon for Seward City News –
Anyone can create a comic book. At least this is the mantra Kaisa Leino promotes.
Leino traveled from Helsinki, Finland to Seward, Alaska earlier this summer in order to help Dr. Tuula Hollmen with her research at the Alaska SeaLife Center. Returning to the SeaLife Center for a second summer, Leino decided to try something a bit different and created a Comic Workshop.
“Originally I was talking with Tuula about how I had been attending a few comic courses this year and would really want to teach a course like that and we sort of came up with the idea for the workshop. Lynn Nappi really helped me organize everything which I’m grateful for as well,” Leino said.
The class began the ninth of July with a diverse showing of pupils.
“You don’t need to be an amazing artist or even know how to draw,” Leino said. “Creating a comic is not only about the art work, sometimes it is about expressing yourself or a message.”
The course began with a simple drawing exercise; it was something to get the brain and hands working. Students were asked to draw any object in front of them before time was up. Then students were asked to draw the same object again only with a shorter time limit. After several shortened time trials students were asked to repeat the process with their left hand and finally with their eyes closed.
“This exercise is just to warm up,” Leino said, “ it helps show the drawings don’t have to be perfect and that drawing the picture smaller can be a big help. Also after you see what you drew with your eyes closed you don’t feel so bad about your first drawing.”
The current class is meant for adults only, due to the material that is discussed. Leino promises there is nothing R-rated about the course but a few of the comics require knowledge of history or adult concepts while others might be too frightening for children.
After two attempts at entering law school back in Finland, Leino finally decided on an English major because she was captivated by the idea of meeting different facets of people all around the world.
The opportunity to come to Alaska was something Leino could not turn down. Most students in her position take part in a foreign exchange program. The move to Alaska appealed to Leino the most due to similarities back home, in temperature, wilderness and wildlife.
The class takes a different approach to learning about comics. The classical approach of learning to draw panels is taking a back seat to how Leino approaches comics.
Leino also hopes to use the course to explore the many types of comics available. She demonstrates multi-media based comics such as electronic and print.
“I want everyone to do the final task and be able to produce something they can show to other people, but I would really love to see people start to use comics as a way to express themselves. As someone who likes to write and draw neither one is really enough but comics are some how the perfect medium to express myself,” Leino said.
According to Leino being an artist is not as necessary to comic creating based on the abundant mediums available to creators today. The important part to creating a comic is conveying a message.
Leino first took an interest in comics early on. She remembers her first comic was for her grandfather at the age of five.
Further plans for another comic workshop are to come. Leino hopes to host a one-day comic workshop for young children to enjoy.
“Kids can do magnificent comics because they might be more open to try new limits. Adults are tough to teach in a way because we have ideas of what we want to be, we want to be great and so on and sometimes that makes it hard for us to take a chance,” Leino said.
For those looking to take a chance and get involved with the Comic Workshop feel free to stop by the Discovery Lab within the Alaska SeaLife Center. The workshop is held every Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Leino sends the PowerPoints and homework assignments out via email so anyone worried about not making the first classes will not be behind.
See what the class has already completed on the Workshop’s Tumblr.
“ I think there is a comic for everyone. You don’t need to know comics to be able to read them,” Leino said. “ Keep looking. Try stuff. There is a comic to enrich everyone’s life.”