When it comes to expressing his range of concerns, Oliver Chin is an ace. In the comic strip Room with a Zoo, Chin follows the foibles of a young, recently dot-com-crashed man, searching for the perfect apartment and roommates. In The Tao of Yao, he interlaces his love of basketball with his knowledge of the Tao Te Ching to create a unique biography of Houston Rockets player Yao Ming. And in the graphic novel Nine of One: A Window to the World, nine high school juniors attempt to make sense of the events of September 11. Now, the Bay Area Harvard grad will teach sixth- to-twelfth-graders how to create their own graphic novels, as Chin explains, "by comparing famous graphic novels that are already out there, then sort of tailoring their own particular stories to have kind of a small graphic novel at the very end, which they can take home with them."
Since a graphic novel is usually book-length, what participants in the free workshop will actually go home with is basically a comic book, but one that owes more to the anything-goes narrative style of the graphic novel than it does to the jokesterism or biff-bam-boom of traditional short comics. Chin will begin with Art Spiegelman's Maus, "because it was one of the first ones that got nationwide notoriety." Then he'll cover superhero comics, and then get into "more of the range of stories that people can create on their own. Given that I used to work for a company that did Japanese animation and comics -- and that's definitely a lot more popular now than the more mainstream categories -- I'll be talking about anime and manga, and how it's definitely influenced kids' enthusiasm to copy those styles and really make the connection between what they see on TV, and what they read."
The workshop starts this Saturday, and continues on Saturdays, 1 to 3 p.m., through March 27 at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. Call 510-526-3720, ex. 20 for further details, and visit Immedium.com for a schedule of Chin's area events promoting The Tao of Yao and Nine of One.
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