Razor Nut was climbing a tree one day when he got an acorn stuck in the bottom of his mouth and the doctor couldn’t pull it out. He has other distinct physical features, as he was born with a big mouth and a small body.
The character Razor Nut is the creation of Max Abdul, a fourth grader at Abram Lansing Elementary who loves comic books. Until recently, Max would draw comics on his own at home, only occasionally collaborating with friends on a new character. He thought more people would enjoy his hobby, so he asked Abram Lansing Principal Cliff Bird if he could start a comic book club.
Bird liked the idea and wanted students to have a “higher level” experience, so he searched for an expert in the field. Through BOCES, Bird found graphic novelist Barbara Slate, who has written and drawn comic books for DC, Marvel, and Disney, among others. Bird opened sign-ups to fourth and fifth graders and anticipated a handful of participants, but ended up with more than 30.
Slate met with students for 90 minutes after school every Thursday in January, with a goal of each student creating their own six-page story by the end of the workshop.
She noted the flow of creativity and energy in the room.
“They’re the perfect age for this,” Slate said.
Bird said he and many of the students thought the course would focus on drawing, but quickly learned there’s much more to creating a comic as Slate taught them how to develop characters and storylines.
“They’re figuring out how to tell a story with a beginning, middle, end and a twist,” Slate said.
Max said he couldn’t believe how many of his classmates were interested in the club.
“I think it’s amazing,” he said. “I didn’t know there were this many people who liked cartooning.”
Bird said he hopes to continue the club in the future.
“I’ve always tried to give our kids access to the arts, but this is really the first time that we’ve ever had something like this,” said Bird. “We’re reaching kids that we haven’t reached before and that’s important to me.”
Finished comics were on display for families during the final workshop session and students received a signed copy of Slate’s book You Can Do a Graphic Novel.