And THAT is how you tell a joke to a kid

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I drew up this one page Casper comic…it’s a parody, not really aimed at kids, BUT in structure it is a fine example of storytelling for a kid..first the gag, then I’ll explain…

Alright, now lemme explain how this is a great joke for kids… IN STRUCTURE. That specific joke, probably not G rated…but the structure is how you capture kid’s imaginations. and that is the job, even if you’re telling a quick joke.

The thing about kids is …they laugh a lot.  I saw some depressing article once about how often adults laugh during a day compared to how often kids laugh.  Basically, being an adult sucks and kids laugh all day long.  The take away from that as far as writing is that laughter is not as precious to a kid as it is to an adult.  In tandem with understanding that, you wanna understand that they use their imaginations way more than adults. They don’t have a 20-30-40 years worth of reference and their minds are still discovering…and so their minds are always looking ahead and trying to figure out what might be…how things will pan things will come together. You can’t just tell them a joke to hold their interest.

The “joke” here could have ended after the first two tiers.

That’s a solid joke there…that is enough to gain the confidence of an adult, that other pages will be worth reading. set up, punchline, the end. Adults may not need more than that, they have seen the world for decades and a joke that gets to the point is often what they are looking for.

but this second part, while also funny, is there with the purposes of capturing the imagination. The joke is told…but the page now gives the kid’s imagination a “what’s next” it keeps them in the world, gives them more of an understanding of what goes on going forward…

in their imaginations Casper is now in hell…his victim is watching…he has a taskmaster…and we have a solid understanding that Casper is indeed a prick. That world, that scenario exists now in the kid’s brain…and that kid is confident ( and probably curious) that future pages will give his/her imagination more looks into that world or more worlds just as interesting. Get me? If the joke ends with the first part…the world is just Casper in a house holding a milk carton…the second ending has all that other stuff going on.

and young readers, being new at everything including how to read a comic, benefit if the page layout is simple and flows easily… I’ve explained some of this before but have a look at the breakdown here and I’ll get into why it’s laid out the way I laid it out

We want to keep the visuals moving the readers eye from left to right, just like they do to read the words, and in this instance there is some important visual info we need to make sure is obvious….for the sake of the joke REAL obvious…so the reader is tempted to think ahead and predict an outcome incorrectly.

Panel 1- Casper’s forward movement is enough to set the eye in motion. The floor lines COULD have also gone in that direction, but I preferred to have them go the other way to slow things just a bit and let the reader’s eye dwell on the old shabby scene,

Panel 2- Has a lot going on composition wise , again to slow the eye. The curve of the spider web ( top left) the curve made by the window break ( bottom right) and the curve of the web on the milk cartoon visually encircle the scene. Casper is looking at the Carton, he’s talking about the carton, the posture of the kid on the Carton matches Casper’s Posture…at this point many readers minds have wrongfully deduced “oh That’s Casper on that Carton…the joke’s gonna be that he was kidnapped or something). The level of the camera is actually looking up at the Carton rather than being eye level with Casper.

Panel 3- This is where the fake punchline get’s more wound up. “Missing” is dead center on the panel, Casper himself is making a connection to the picture. In this panel I have the floor board lines go in the direction of the next panel, because it is a visually stagnate scene and want to move past it quickly.

Panel 4- this is the spinning seam of the curve-ball catching the air…It has a dramatic Camera shot, there is not much around Casper, the arrangement of the word balloons is dramatic and slows the timing…and Casper has a startled look for the first time.

Panel 5- pow! The camera is dropped right to eye level with Casper for the first time. As far as visual movement , the tail of the word balloon and Casper’s pointing finger are sending the readers eye back rather than off the page.

Panel 6- That’s simple enough, Casper is looking to the right, the action is on the right and the flames almost connect to the flames in the panel on the right

Panel 7- Casper and the demon are both reaching into the direction of the lower left panel.

Panel 8- This should be obvious …a giant fork and Casper going into the direction of the next panel.

And…that’s as much as I’m going to get into this one.

Other than to say I’m pretty pleased with it.

The original art is up on the online store, if someone wants it.

feel free to look around the rest of the store and use coupon code- voodoo – for 20% off if you see something you want.

If you are thinking about getting a commission from me, I suggest you do that soon…busy times are closing in.


When Douglas is not complaining, he and his work can be found here

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