Wednesday, 6 May 2009

7 - Comic Interviews

Now I wouldn't necessarily do this activity straight after number 6 (Speech and Thought), but I might as well mention it now as it's a good way of putting the speech and thought skills into practice. I'm also tagging this as a 'teachers follow-up', something I can point staff towards after I've been in and started them all off with the basic methods.
It's a very simple idea, using comic interviews to provoke responses from participants. I've used it as a research method with several community groups, and once or twice as an evaluation at the end of a session. There's all sorts of possibilities, and I'm sure I'm not the first to do this.

Basically, I give everyone an A4 photocopy with a picture of me in the corner asking a question. I keep my bit small to allow as much room as possible for their responses. In this example, I wanted to really get some meaty information out of the kids, so I eased them into it with a light opener -

I'm then able to proceed with the interview, using simple open questions, here "what are the good things about living in this area"-

Sometimes kids will just write (and I'm not going to stop them), rather than composing speech bubbles.
I ask the opposing question about bad things in their area-

Now just because he's not bothered drawing a bubble around the words and it's more a list than anything else, we've got a brilliant response AND a face that expresses a fair amount too. These interviews allow everyone to respond differently - words, drawings and combinations of the two. An individual might not want to write about there being too much dog poo in their local park, but might find it easier expressing this in a drawing, even if they're not amazing at either.

One thing I hadn't anticipated was this response, where the lad says out loud 'neva seen [bad things in the area]', but reveals his actual thoughts -

I found this really powerful, and it seems like one of the best arguments for the possibilities of using comics to engage with a group or individual - I can't see how you could do this so simply, clearly and economically in any other medium.

Depending on the participants enthusiasm and available time, the interviews can be passed around and turned into group interviews or debates, and everyone can have a go at being the interviewer too -

It could even turn into roleplaying - here 2 different kids have tried to see things from the perspectives of a badboy gang member and a little elderly man -

Another variation, one which called for a lot of work on my behalf but also allowed a small group of kids to draw themselves voicing their opinions and experiences - my six page interview with Sherko, Tipu and Junaid in a Rochdale School.
I took this even further with the Sugar Group - there was no way I was going to get them drawing, so had to do it all myself (under their direction), illustrating a taped discussion. This took a long time, and I'm unlikely to leap at doing this again, though we were all really pleased with the results.

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