Part 5 of 5: Comparing 4 Graphic Novels and 2 Webcomics Zombie Style

October 7, 2007 at 2:15 pm (Comics and Graphic Novels, lesson plan, videocast) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Videocast 1: Introduction

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Videocast 2:
Reading Aloud,Chapter 2, Monster Island by David Wellington

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Preview and Objectives:

Students will discuss the process of creating zombie comics by using Comic Life. The issue of copyright will be further discussed, specifically focusing on works in the public domain versus works protected under a Creative Commons license. Students will view/listen to the two Videocasts (see above) created by myself.

The first videocast will introduce the Creative Commons-Attribution- NonCommercial-No Derivatives license, as well as the zombie novel Monster Island by David Wellington, which was published online under this particular CC license.

The second videocast is a reading of Chapter 2 from Wellington’s Monster Island.

To explore the connection between audio media listeners and presenters, students will consider their own personal connections and the connections that others make with audio media, and specifically with the archetypal example of audio media that made a strong impact upon others– Orson Welles’ broadcast of H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds in October 1938.

Based on this exploration of the power of audio media, as well as upon the students’ experiences from Parts 1-4 in this series, students will be given time to explore a wealth of materials with the objective in mind of planning for and then creating a group podcast (or videocast for any students wanting an extra challenge) relating to the theme of zombies.

In sum, students will

  • listen to (and read) an audio broadcast.
  • explore the historical and cultural context of an audio broadcast.
  • establish criteria for effective audio storytelling and dramatizations.
  • compose a dramatization relating to the theme of zombies.

Class Time Needed:

  • 10-50 Minute Class Sessions

National Standards for Arts Education Addressed:

  • Content Standard: 1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
  • Content Standard 2: Using knowledge of structures and functions
  • Content Standard 3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas
  • Content Standard 5: Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others
  • Content Standard 6: Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines

National Standards for English Addressed:

  • Content Standard 1: Reading for Perspective
  • Content Standard 2: Reading for Understanding
  • Content Standard 3: Evaluation Strategies
  • Content Standard 4: Communication Skills
  • Content Standard 5: Communication Strategies
  • Content Standard 6: Applying Knowledge
  • Content Standard 8: Developing Research Skills
  • Content Standard 12: Applying Language Skills

The Reading Material for this Series:

PART 5 of 5

(Closely Adapted from the Audio Broadcasts and Podcasts: Oral Storytelling and Dramatization from

Session One

Discussion of Comic Life Zombie Comic: Suggested Questions:

1. What was the most challenging thing that you experienced while creating your digital comic?

  • Why was this?

2. Did you enjoy anything in particular about the process of creating your comic with Comic Life?

3. What mood or tone did you try to set?

  • Why did you choose this mood or tone?
  • How did you go about establishing this mood or tone?

4. Would you do anything differently?

  • Why or why not?

5. Would anyone like to share his/her comic with the class?

War of the Worlds (public domain)War of the Worlds (public domain)War of the Worlds (public domain)War of the Worlds (public domain)War of the Worlds (public domain)

Further Explorations: Welles’ War of the Worlds Broadcast

1. Ask students to brainstorm a list of the qualities that make a any story come alive. (Record the list.) Focus on the following questions:

  • What makes a story entertaining?
  • What makes characters in a story strong and interesting?
  • How does a conflict or problem influence whether a story is vivid and interesting?
  • What are the important qualities of the resolution to the conflict?
  • What makes a setting appropriate?
  • How is the underlying code of behavior best communicated in a story?
  • What are ways to connect to the history of a place or people that make work well in a story?

2. With the students, create a working checklist of the criteria for a vivid story, based on the responses to the above questions. (Record the checklist)

3. Review the checklist and, with students, phrase the criteria in yes/no questions.

4. Hand out copies of the article “War of the Worlds”: Behind the 1938 Radio Show Panic by Stefan Lovgen ( to introduce Orson Welles’ broadcast of H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds in October 1938. Welles’ broadcast provides a great example of the power of radio (and podcasts in our day) to stir the imaginations of listeners.

On the power of radio (and podcasts), present this quote by Lou Orfanella (“Radio: The Intimate Medium.” English Journal 87.1 [January 1998]: 53–55):

“Radio has the power to individualize its presentation within the mind of each and every listener. There is an intimacy and shared vision that it creates.” … [Orson Welles] “accidentally terrorized many Americans, young and old, with [his] updated Halloween-night version of H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds—proving the power of radio in a remarkable way” (Bianculli 39 in Orfanella).

5. Students may already be familiar with the story and events of that production. Ask them to share any information they know about the famous broadcast.

6. Share additional general background information from the Web sites listed in the H. G. Welles’ War of the Worlds Resources from the list of Student Resources for Part 5 of 5: Comparing 4 Graphic Novels and 2 Webcomics Zombie Style.

7. Working in small groups, have students explore the Web resources included in the War of the Worlds Travelogue.

8. After students have spent time researching the sites, gather the class and ask volunteers to share their findings. Draw connections to the class checklist for a good story.

9. For homework, ask students to read The War of the Worlds Broadcast Script.

10. If you have not already done so, type the class checklist for a good story before the next session, and make copies for each student.

Session Two

1. Pass out copies of typed checklist for a good story to students.

2. Ask students to share any immediate responses to the Broadcast Script assigned as homework, leading discussion to connections from the information students read on the Web sites during the previous session.

3. Have students compare the characteristics of the Broadcast Script to the class checklist for a good story, taking notes on the observations made.

4. Access one of the audio recordings of the Mercury Theatre production of War of the Worlds (Real Audio or MP3), and listen to all or part of the recording in class (depending upon the time available for the session).

5. As they listen, students can follow along in the Broadcast Script, have students take notes on any features of the recording that surprise or interest them.

6. For homework, have students take notes on the characteristics of the Broadcast Script versus the Real Audio or MP3 recording (script versus audio). Students should also take notes on how the audio version compares to the class checklist for a good story.

Session Three

1. Have students share their homework comparisons of the script and audio recording of Welles’ broadcast of The War of the Worlds, drawing discussion to connections with the class checklist for a good story.

2. After students have shared their immediate responses, have them review the class checklist for a good story and ask them to consider how the list would change if the checklist were focused on the qualities that make the audio recording of a story or an oral story vivid. (Record responses and adjust the class checklist as necessary.)

3. Explain that students will complete audio dramatizations of short stories they will write that relate in some way to the theme of zombies, much as the Mercury Theatre created a dramatization of H. G. Welles’ The War of the Worlds. Further add that the audio dramatizations will be published to the internet as podcasts. Explain the option for choosing to integrate video, where the end product will be a Videocast.

4. Pass out the Audio Dramatization Rubric, and compare students’ checklist with the requirements for the project.

5. Outline (and if desired, demonstrate) the technical equipment that students have available to them as they work on this project (e.g., Audacity, Photo Story 3, etc.)

6. Answer any questions that students have about the project or the rubric.

7. Introduce the Videocasts 1 and 2 (above), relating to copyright issues and David Wellington’s zombie novel, Monster Island. Also provide the link to the text.

8. Arrange small groups for remaining sessions.

9. Have students listen/watch the Videocasts while in their groups. After listening to Chapter 2 of Wellington’s Monster Island, students should consider whether the text meets the criteria for a good story (based on the checklist) and/or whether the recording meets the criteria for a good oral story.

10. Allow students the rest of the class session to begin exploring the Student Resources for Part 5 of 5: Comparing 4 Graphic Novels and 2 Webcomics Zombie Style.

11. For Homework, provide copies of (or the link to) “Podcasting Power for the People” from NewsHour with Jim Lehrer to provide some basic background. Also for homework, provide a copy or link to the Developing a Story Plan Handout for each person to come up with some initial ideas for the group’s zombie story.

Session Four

1. Present an overview of the process that students will complete over the course of the zombie podcast/videocast project:



  • Plan the story
  • Identify key scenes and characters
  • Compose script
  • Choose any sound effects (For optional Videocasts: choose images-Use Comic Life, Photostory, etc.)
  • Practice the script


  • Set up equipment (including anything needed for sound effects)
  • Record the segment in short segments using Audacity
  • For optional Videocasts: prepare the video using Comic Life or another graphic program and Photo Story 3.
  • If working online, save often!


  • Edit the audio as necessary
  • For optional Videocasts: edit the graphics and then, using Photo Story 3, create a Photo Story of the images.
  • If working online, add any additional music or sound effects
  • Review the completed recording
  • For optional Videocasts: use Eyespot to merge the Photo Story with the audio recording.
  • Publish the final piece online as a podcast or videocast through, and provide a link of the rss feed to your teacher by email.

2. In groups, have students discuss each person’s completed Developing a Story Plan Handout. Provide each student with a clean copy of this handout for additional planning of their group’s zombie story to work on for the remainder of class time. Direct students to the Zombie Resources section of the Student Resources for Part 5 of 5: Comparing 4 Graphic Novels and 2 Webcomics Zombie Style.

3. To encourage students to complete a good working draft of their group’s zombie story in a timely manner, let students know that they must have it finished by the midpoint of the next session.

4. For homework, provide each student with a copy of the Story Elements Web Handout for use as a model for creating their own web based upon the group’s progress so far on the zombie story, and for use during the next class section’s goal of finishing a good working draft by the midpoint of the session.

Session Five

1. Begin the session with students grouping up and comparing the story elements webs they completed for homework. Remind students that their good working drafts are to be completed by the midpoint of this class session, and allow the groups time to work until that time.

2. Ask students to refer back to the Audio Dramatization Rubric provided in Session Three (provide copies to anyone that might not have this handout anymore). Ask students to consider the characteristics of a good story and the rubric for the project. Remind students that the two lists of criteria should shape their zombie stories.

3. As a class, look closely at a short excerpt from the Broadcast Script of the Mercury Theatre production of War of the Worlds.

4. Ask students to identify the kinds of details that appear in the text, using the following questions to guide the discussion:

  • What details in the script communicate the settings for the story?
  • How can you tell what emotions the characters feel?
  • How do you know what is happening in the story?

5. Throughout this discussion, stress that the only way to tell what is going on in a well-written play is by what is heard. Characters communicate emotions through such features as tone of voice, word choice, and pace of conversation–they rarely simply explain their emotions.

6. Have students identify a sample passage from the War of the Worlds script that demonstrates how emotions are communicated.

7. Ask students to identify how techniques other than words communicate information in the War of the Worlds broadcast. Encourage them to choose specific features from the text to demonstrate such techniques as sound effects and background sounds.

8. As students begin talking about adding background sounds and music, talk about the copyright restrictions on such files, which is especially important if students are sharing podcasts/videocasts online. Explain that the best option is to choose podsafe music. explains that “Podsafe music is the term for music that can be legally used in a podcast and freely distributed online for others to download.” Have students refer to for links to the following websites for podcast safe music:

  • The Free Sound Project
  • SoundSnap
  • Flash Kit – Sound FX
  • Podcast Bumper Music
  • fOUR bEES Free Media
  • Podsafe Audio
  • Common Content: Catalog

9. Have students explore, directing them to pay particular attention to the podcast safe music options.

10. For homework, have students make copies of their group’s good working draft of the zombie story if possible. Students should reflect on the issue of emotion in their story. Reflecting on this session’s discussion of techniques other than words communicate information, students should spend at least half an hour free-writing on any ideas that they have on this topic. Minimum requirement: 50 words.

Session Six

1. Explain that students will finalize and record their scripts during the next four sessions.

2. Ask students to return to the process of writing their zombie stories, modeled on the techniques in the War of the Worlds broadcast and script. Remind them to keep in mind the discussion of how information is communicated to listeners in an audio broadcast, as well as to use the ideas from their free-writing homework assignment.

3. As students work, circulate through the classroom, providing support and feedback. Encourage students to try out short excerpts from their script for you.

4. Ask students to come to the next session ready to begin production of their dramatizations.

Sessions Seven to Nine

1. Remind students that they will be recording their scripts during the next three sessions.

2. Remind students of any technical details regarding the equipment that is available for their productions.

3. Encourage students to record in small segments and, if working online, save often. Re-recording a short segment if something goes wrong is much easier than it is to have to rerecord the entire production. Working in small pieces allows students to save their work often (so that they avoid losing any data is there is a technical problem).

4. Discuss any options for editing the recorded audio files (e.g., how to splice smaller segments together, how to add background music if working online). For those working on videocasts, provide assistance as needed.

5. Answer any questions and allow students to work freely on their dramatizations during these periods.

6. Provide support and feedback during the session. If students run into any challenges that cannot be easily resolved, explain that they can modify the script as necessary.

7. At the end of the last session, students should have a broadcast that is ready to share with the rest of the class. Have students upload their projects onto, and share a link to their rss feed by email to you.

Session Ten

1. Set up the technical equipment necessary for students to share their productions (e.g., computers, iPod and speakers, computers).

2. Give groups a few minutes to make any last minute preparations.

3. Ask individuals or groups to describe their production briefly as an introduction.

4. Play the related recording. Encourage audience response.

5. Rotate through the class until all broadcasts have been played.

6. Ask students to return to the class checklist and assess the work of other groups—which stories were particularly vivid and compelling? why were they vivid and memorable?

7. As a final activity, ask student to write a reflection focusing on one or more of the following questions:

  • What was the most interesting thing about your dramatization of the script, and why?
  • Choose the podcast/videocast of another group and reflect on what made that story particularly vivid.
  • If you were to do this project all over again, what would you do differently and why? Imagine that you have whatever technical equipment you need to complete your task.

Cover of Monster Island by David Wellington

Link to: David Wellington’s Website


1 Comment

  1. Zombie Survival Forum said,

    We have a site that might interest you: Zombie Survival Forum . It’s a place where you can converse with other zombie fans.

    We also have a comprehensive Zombie Survival Tips List if you would like to give it a read.

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