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Build a “likeable hero” and learn about character.

Credit: “Baymax” image retrieved from http://io9.gizmodo.com/

Life Outside the Box focuses on internal strengths. 
In the process of students building a “likeable hero” and developing an “interesting comic character,” some of the character strengths, traits, and virtues that are discussed are:

  • a flexible, “not yet, but soon” mind set (as opposed to a fixed, “all or nothing” mind set)
  • self-regulation (ones’ personal “engine” not running too sluggish or too hot, but just right)
  • personal sacrifice (giving up a personal gain — sometimes facing embarrassment — to go off and “save the day”)
  • endearing hero qualities (a mixture of strong and vulnerable traits)
  • forgiveness
  • other-esteem (as compared to self-esteem),
  • humility, altruism, civic values, gratitude, prudence, sense of one’s own life meaning, and frequent positive affect.
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Empower children and youth to look beyond the “box”

Credit: Image retrieved from https://daredreamermag.com/2011/05/16/looking-outside-the-box-for-inspiration/

Some past crime-prevention programs have been proven to be inadequate because they focused on warning children and youth to “not commit crimes”, but these programs did not address the root causes of crime-related behaviour — the hopelessness these young people feel when they perceive few positive alternatives and receive little support for following their dreams — i.e., being the hero in their own challenging and rewarding “hero’s journey.” Life Outside the Box activities and conversations can empower children and youth to look beyond the “box” of limited choices and shallow values, and believe in themselves and their dreams of a better future.

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Youth should be the heroes in their own life story.

Credit: Image retrieved from http://foolishfire.com/2014/08/07/be-the-hero-of-your-own-story/

The Life Outside the Box program is an educational and crime-prevention program designed to support children’s and youth’s personal “grit,” resiliency, awareness of others, and sense of life-purpose by examining the classic superheroes in comic book stories. Every hero has super strength but also character weaknesses; supportive allies but also a taunting arch-nemesis; and many failed attempts but ultimately the “epic save!” Through writing and drawing comics, children and youth learn that the greatest stories are not the ones in which heroes are “perfect” or settle for the “easy, quick, materialistic” life, but rather the ones in which the heroes face adversity, learn about themselves, find their calling in life and then discover they are actually in the perfect place at the perfect time to “save the day.” The Life Outside the Box program is designed not only to encourage children and youth to tell their own stories by using the comic book style, but also, to empower them to see how they may become the heroes in their own life story.

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Sideways conversations

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Though the main focus of the Life Outside the Box classroom workshop is on helping children discuss and learn about character strengths, this learning will happen through sideways conversations about the heroes under construction. These many sideways conversations about building one’s own comic book heroes, villains and other characters, inspire students to ask questions about character strengths and flaws to make their central character a “better read” for their peers. When children “practice” making moral choices and dishing out consequences for their own hapless and heroic comic book characters, children teach themselves about morality and natural consequences in their own life. This increased conversation around and awareness of character, morality and natural consequences may discourage crime-related behaviour later in life.

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The Adventures of Trike Man – Scene #1

*NEW* Life outside the Box hero, Trike Man – Scene #1.

Emily MoonI asked artist and high school student, Emily Moon, to take some comic slam challenges to show how the Life Outside the Box playing cards and comic slam worksheets can help comic book creators build a likeable superhero with unusual super strengths and ordinary character flaws who is ready to face everyday — and extraordinary — challenges.

 

"Fly tricycling" one of 20 "quirky super power" cards in the Life Outside the Box deck.

“Fly tricycling” one of 20 “quirky super power” cards in the Life Outside the Box deck.

First, Emily chose the “fly tricycling” quirky super power card.  Each card is designed to get the comic artist think of odd, funny powers that come with save the world potential but also are likely to lead to funny or awkward social moment. Each quirky super power card also suggests a motto for the hero that reveals a bit about their personality. Emily’s card read:

Superpower: Hero can ride any tricycle at top speed breaking the sound barrier — even fast enough to ride on water but sadly not fast enough to fly — can only move like a rock skipping on water.

Unfortunate side effect: Villains mocking: Hero can’t fly like a “real” hero and can never look “cool” or “tough” riding a tricycle..

Motto: “Flying a tricycle is way cooler than flying wearing a dumb cape, right?”

After choosing this card, Emily used the Life Outside the Box comic slam, “Create a quirky super hero” to further develop her hero, Comic Slam – Create Quirky Hero – Life Outside the Box. This comic slam had these sections:

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Comic slam: “Create a quirky super hero.”

A) Big idea: QUIRKY: an odd, unexpected or weird action, behaviour, personality or mannerism.

B) Method: Step 1. Choose a card from the “Quirky Super Power” deck. Step 2. Create a character who has the chosen quirky super power with unfortunate side effect. Your character can be male or female; human, animal, or alien; child or adult, etc. Step 3. Name your hero and sketch out/describe clothing, head and foot wear, etc. Step 4. Choose a place, year, culture, and/or world for your hero. Step 5. Describe the social life of your hero. Are there family members, friends, coworkers, pets, children, etc?

C) Comic: Now that you have created your hero and “back story” (congratulations!), sketch a comic showing a typical day in the life of your hero.

After reading the comic slam, Emily was ready to imagine and created her hero’s origin story in, “TrikeMan – Scene #1.” (Note: She created her comic using Comic Life 3 digital tools.) Enjoy the adventures of TrikeMan! (Click image to read).

Trikeman1

Scene #1: This single dad is keen to try out his new flying bike. Unfortunately, a flat tire takes the air out of his superhero-ing practice time.

Follow the continuing adventures of Future Hearing Man in scenes #2-3, and scenes #4-5 …

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The Adventures of Trike Man – Scenes #2 – 3.

Scenes #2 – #3 of the Adventures of Trike Man.

Emily MoonAfter writing the origin story for Trike Man, guest artist, Emily Moon, needed to show the growth of her character as he came to understand the possibilities and limitations of his new “fly tricycling” powers.  To help her with her hero’s growing pains Emily followed the Life Outside the Box comic slam worksheet: Life Outside the Box Comic Slam “Fail, fail, fail, save-the-day!”  This comic slam had these sections:

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 12.36.00 PM

Comic slam: “Fail, fail, fail …Save the day!” (click image to read)

A) Big idea: GRIT – firmness of mind or spirit; courage in the face of hardship or danger; able to deal with hard times

B) Method: It’s time to give your character some Super Power lessons. Learning to control super powers and those annoying unfortunate side effects can be challenging, dangerous — and sometimes embarrassing. You need to give your hero some grit! Step 1. Imagine a scene in which your beginner-hero first accidentally discovers her or his super power. What happened? Who was affected? Step 2. Imagine what would happen if your beginner-hero was trying to “save the day” and she or he did not yet know how to turn on the super power. What happened? Who was affected? Step 3. Imagine what would happen if your beginner-hero was trying to “save the day” and used too much super power. What happened? Who was affected?

C) Comic: Draw a comic strip in which your hero’s super power lessons get off to a rough start — first, there is “too little” power; second, “too much” power, and third — hurray! — your Hero’s super power is “just right” and helps to get the job done.

D) Rules 1: To build up your beginner- hero’s grit and strength, you must make your Hero go through some failures before the ultimate win. 2: Your hero must go undergo a super power learning process. 3: Just like Goldilocks, your beginner-hero must learn about: “too little,” “too much,” and “just right” when controlling super powers and unfortunate side effects.

Emily’s hero struggles to sustain his tricycling power…

Trikeman2

Scene #2: This heroic and determined dad, having broken his super cool bike, hops on his daughter’s tricycle and attempts lift off.

 

 

Trikeman3

Scene #3: Super dad achieves lift off on his daughter’s trike. Unfortunately, he still has to learn how to steer.

Read more adventures of Trike Man in scene #1 and scenes #4 – 5 …

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The Adventures of TrikeMan – Scenes #4 – #5.

Scenes #4 – #5 of the Adventures of Trike Man.

Emily MoonOur guest artist, Emily Moon, wanted to see her superhero succeed in his crime fighting debut. But this hero’s win is bittersweet. Unfortunately, because in scene #4 he was seen fighting crime on a tricycle (recall his own bike broke down so he had to ride his daughter’s tricycle), bystanders dubbed him “TrikeMan.” Spoiler alert: Future scenes will reveal that “TrikeMan” will be an embarrassing superhero name when he has to confront arch-villain, “Motorbike Man,” a tough, tattooed, villain who rides a suped-up Harley Davidson motorcycle. Motorbike Man is also a single dad whose daughter attends the same day care as TrikeMan’s daughter. Even though day care pick up invariably involves the mean villain’s humiliation and teasing of TrikeMan, TrikeMan always triumphs over evil in the end. Whew!

(SWAP PDFs for these jpgs.)

TrikeMan banishes the criminals but gets branded with an embarrassing superhero name.

Scene #4: TrikeMan banishes the criminals but gets branded with an embarrassing superhero name.

TrikeMan gets famous and come to terms with his new superhero name.

Scene #5: TrikeMan gets famous and come to terms with his new superhero name.

 

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The Adventures of Future Hearing Man – Scene #1

*NEW* Life outside the Box hero, Future Hearing Man – Scene #1: The origin story.

Jenna OakleyI asked artist and graphic designer, Jenna Oakley, to take some comic slam challenges to show how the Life Outside the Box playing cards and comic slam worksheets can help comic book creators build a likeable superhero with unusual super strengths and ordinary character flaws who is ready to face everyday — and extraordinary — challenges.

 

"Future hearing" one of 20 "quirky super power" cards in the Life Outside the Box deck.

“Future hearing” one of 20 “quirky super power” cards in the Life Outside the Box deck.

First, Jenna chose the “future hearing “quirky super power” card.  Each card is designed to get the comic artist think of odd, funny powers that come with save the world potential but also are likely to lead to funny or awkward social moment. Each quirky super power card also suggests a motto for the hero that reveals a bit about their personality. Jenna’s card read:

Superpower: Hero hears an “audio-recording” of a moment from the future but may not be sure about the WHEN, WHO, or WHERE of the moment.

Unfortunate side effect:Hero can misinterpret the meaning of the audio-moment from the future.

Motto:“Hear I come to save the day! It’s a pun, get it?”

After choosing this card, Jenna used the Life Outside the Box comic slam, “Create a quirky super hero” to further develop her hero, Comic Slam – Create Quirky Hero – Life Outside the Box. This comic slam had these sections:

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 9.07.19 PM

Comic slam: “Create a quirky super hero.”

A) Big idea: QUIRKY: an odd, unexpected or weird action, behaviour, personality or mannerism.

B) Method: Step 1. Choose a card from the “Quirky Super Power” deck. Step 2. Create a character who has the chosen quirky super power with unfortunate side effect. Your character can be male or female; human, animal, or alien; child or adult, etc. Step 3. Name your hero and sketch out/describe clothing, head and foot wear, etc. Step 4. Choose a place, year, culture, and/or world for your hero. Step 5. Describe the social life of your hero. Are there family members, friends, coworkers, pets, children, etc?

C) Comic: Now that you have created your hero and “back story” (congratulations!), sketch a comic showing a typical day in the life of your hero.

After reading the comic slam, Jenna was ready to imagine and created her hero’s origin story in, “Future Hearing Man – Scene #1.” (Note: She created her comic using ADOBE digital tools.) I hope you enjoy the adventures of Future Hearing Man! (Click image to read).

Scene #1 – Future Hearing Man: The origin story.

Follow the continuing adventures of Future Hearing Man in scene #2 and scene #3

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The Adventures of Future Hearing Man – Scene #2

Scene #2 – The Adventures of Future Hearing Man!

Jenna OakleyAfter writing the origin story for Future Hearing Man, guest artist, Jenna Oakley, needed to show the growth of her character as he came to understand the possibilities and limitations of his new “future hearing” powers. (Notice Jenna casted her hero as a university student — a life she knows well as a graduate of fine arts — so she could have the best chance of adding age-relevant, real life social interactions in her comic. Children and youth should be encouraged to “write what the know” and choose a character of similar age to themselves.) To help her with her hero’s growing pains Jenna followed the Life Outside the Box comic slam worksheet: Life Outside the Box Comic Slam “Fail, fail, fail, save-the-day!” I gave this comic slam activity the nickname “Goldilocks challenge) because it involves the hero having to deal with too little, too much and just right amounts of super power — an exercise in learning super power self-regulation. his comic slam has four sections:

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 12.36.00 PM

Comic slam: “Fail, fail, fail …Save the day!” (click image to read)

A) Big idea: GRIT – firmness of mind or spirit; courage in the face of hardship or danger; able to deal with hard times

B) Method: It’s time to give your character some Super Power lessons. Learning to control super powers and those annoying unfortunate side effects can be challenging, dangerous — and sometimes embarrassing. You need to give your hero some grit! Step 1. Imagine a scene in which your beginner-hero first accidentally discovers her or his super power. What happened? Who was affected? Step 2. Imagine what would happen if your beginner-hero was trying to “save the day” and she or he did not yet know how to turn on the super power. What happened? Who was affected? Step 3. Imagine what would happen if your beginner-hero was trying to “save the day” and used too much super power. What happened? Who was affected?

C) Comic: Draw a comic strip in which your hero’s super power lessons get off to a rough start — first, there is “too little” power; second, “too much” power, and third — hurray! — your Hero’s super power is “just right” and helps to get the job done.

D) Rules 1) To build up your beginner- hero’s grit and strength, you must make your hero go through some failures before the ultimate win. 2) Your hero must go undergo a super power learning process. 3) Just like Goldilocks, your beginner-hero must learn about: “too little,” “too much,” and “just right” when controlling super powers and unfortunate side effects.

Jenna’s hero struggles to bring on his future hearing power. At first it does not come; then it is waaay too sensitive and he picks up too many sounds; then he wonders, “Maybe if I just relax …” After successfully learning to regulate his super power, Future Hearing Man decides he needs to dress like a super hero and shows us he also has super skills with a sewing machine.

FutureHearingMan-01

Scene #2 – “Fail, Fail, fail … Save the day!” Future Hearing Man learns to control his power –too little, too much, and then just right.

Follow the adventures of Future Hearing Man in scene #1 and scene #3

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The Adventures of Future Hearing Man – Scene #3

Scene #3 – The Adventures of Future Hearing Man.

Jenna OakleyWith the origin story and master of the super power complete, guest artist, Jenna Oakley, chose to explore the personal price well-meaning heroes pay when they drop everything to respond to a distress call. Jenna followed the Life Outside the Box comic slam worksheet: “Comic Slam – Great power, Great responsibility – Life Outside the Box.” Here is a transcript of this comic slam activity sheet:

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 8.48.01 PMA) Big idea: OBLIGATION: something that you must do because it is morally right; something you do out of a sense of duty to others who depend on you.

B) Blurb: Heroes eventually learn, “with great power comes great responsibility.” But how is a hero to earn good grades at school, be on time for meals, go on dates, or put in enough hours at work if she or he is always being interrupted with “Help, Save me!” calls? How will your hero handle balancing a life of frequent super-rescues while still keeping up with her or his everyday duties and obligations? Can your hero handle being a “winner” in the public’s eye but risking looking like a “loser” in everyday life when important meetings, tests, jobs — and even sleep — get(s) frequently interrupted? Imagine the personal cost your hero pays to drop everything and run when villains attack, aliens invade, or kittens get stuck up in a tree? What happens to your hero’s friendships? What happens to your hero’s everyday, personal reputation?

C) Comic: Draw a comic strip in which your hero has to choose between dropping everything to run and “save the day” or showing up for an important personal meeting/event. How does your hero feel about having to choose?

D) Rules: Step 1: You must show your Hero really needs or wants to do something that is personally important. Step 2: You must show a clash — a fight — between your hero’s personal needs and the needs of others. Optional extra Step 3: Show your hero’s mixed feelings about “saving the day” AND being absent for a meeting, missing a deadline or not being there for a friend.

Jenna begins this scene with her hero studying hard for an exam. He hears a cry for help and without hesitation responds. Fortunately, he is prepared and has his hero costume with him. Unfortunately, he discovers his future hearing power was accurate but the context of the emergency was not what he was expecting. Future Hearing Man fulfills his obligation to serve those in need and he pays the price in lost marks for the missed test.FutureHearingMan-02Follow the adventures of Future Hearing Man in scene #1 and scene #3 …