St Albans comic author returns to give cartoon workshops at old junior school

PUBLISHED: 07:01 24 October 2019

Comics author James Riding ran a cartoon drawing workshop at Wheatfields Junior School in St Albans, where he went to school. Picture: Supplied

Comics author James Riding ran a cartoon drawing workshop at Wheatfields Junior School in St Albans, where he went to school. Picture: Supplied

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A children's comic author from St Albans has been back to school to teach cartoon drawing workshops.

Comics author James Riding when he was a pupil at Wheatfields Junior School in St Albans. Picture: SuppliedComics author James Riding when he was a pupil at Wheatfields Junior School in St Albans. Picture: Supplied

James Riding, who created the self-published comic series 'James + Jack in Crazyland', visited his old junior school - Wheatfields - on Friday, October 19.

He taught pupils from each year group to draw in his style, and to come up with their own 'orb' characters from his series. He also demonstrated that simplicity is key when designing a memorable cartoon character - explaining that the most famous characters of all time are made up of simple shapes so anyone can draw them.

James started writing and drawing his own comics while he was a pupil at Wheatfields from 2003 to 2007, and drew the first adventures of his 'James + Jack' characters when he was in Year 4.

After attending Sandringham School and studying English at Oxford, James began to write, illustrate and self-publish his own comic books.

'James + Jack in Crazyland' by St Albans comics author James Riding. Picture: Supplied'James + Jack in Crazyland' by St Albans comics author James Riding. Picture: Supplied

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The books tell the story of two friends, James and Jack, having adventures in Albion City, a wacky cartoon version of London where everyone has a floating alien companion called an 'orb'.

Jack met James after escaping from the diabolical Doctor Tyburn, and together they cause mayhem, stand up to bullies and learn how to use Jack's mysterious new powers.

The series is inspired by comics James loved as a child, such as The Beano, and the artwork and storytelling draws inspiration from Japanese manga.

Comics author James Riding ran a cartoon drawing workshop at Wheatfields Junior School in St Albans, where he went to school. Picture: SuppliedComics author James Riding ran a cartoon drawing workshop at Wheatfields Junior School in St Albans, where he went to school. Picture: Supplied

Comics and graphic novels are being introduced more and more into literacy programmes at schools and libraries, with organisations such as Comics Literary Awareness using comics to promote literacy and teach English as a foreign language.

Wheatfields children also took part in a wider graphic novel day, with pupils looking at a selection of graphic novels from the library and drawing their own comic strips.

James has now sold nearly 500 books without an agent, and says that one day he "hopes to give David Walliams a run for his money for the Christmas number one children's book spot". He has also given talks and run workshops at schools, festivals and comic conventions across the UK. More information about James's books can be found at jamesriding.co.uk.

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