Comic Life Website Poster Image

Comic Life

(i)

 

Fun way to turn your own images into realistic cartoons.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids can learn basic storytelling elements including story structure and plot. They'll also learn how to establish a character, set a scene, and write dialogue. Unfortunately, there's no easy way to share creations with each other. Kids can't get feedback on how to improve their comics unless they upload them to another site and post a link on the forums that are hosted on the Comiclife.com website -- and not many kids do this, which is a shame. Comic Life is a good way for amateur cartoonists to get started, but feedback and sharing options would be a great source of further inspiration and encouragement.

Positive messages

Kids are encouraged to express themselves by telling a story in a visual way.

Violence

Most user comics and posts shared on the message boards are pretty tame, but one mentions plans to create a "dark, bloody" comic.

Sex

A search for "adult content" turns up a comic with a plotline that mentions prostitution (but doesn't picture it). Generally, though, the site doesn't seem to contain posts promoting adult material.

Language

Comments are moderated before being posted. A few older posts contain words like "s--t."

Consumerism

Comic Life 3, featuring additional design tools, is available for Mac and costs $29.99; you can upgrade from Comic Life's first version for $14.99, or test it for free with a 30-day trial. The Comic Life 2 upgrade is still available, for Mac and PC, with an upgrade price of $9.99.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

At least one comic that's linked in the forum section has a plot line that involves drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Comic Life is a digital comic-creation application that can be downloaded to a computer. A separate set of forums, housed on Comiclife.com, lets registered users ask questions and discuss comics they've created with the application. Posts are moderated before they're published on the site. For kids under 13 to register, a parent has to physically sign and return an approval form -- otherwise kids won't be able to post on the message boards.

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What's it about?

COMIC LIFE offers kids a quick, simple way to turn a story into a cartoon, using predesigned templates. You'll need to use ready-made images, either stock art, pictures you've drawn using other programs, or snapshots from your computer's webcam. Images can be color-corrected, and kids can add dialogue captions. Comic Life’s third version provides a few new effects including the ability to knock out image backgrounds. Users can post questions to the forums on the manufacturer's site; kids can easily export finished comics to Facebook or other locations.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
Comic Life lets kids easily create their own cartoons by selecting a background template, importing images from a computer, and adding captions or other text to round out the story. Users can download the application, now in its third version (Comic Life 3), from the Comic Life website, which also features a blog with tips and information about using the program in schools.
 
The manufacturer, Plasq, hosts message boards on its site for users to discuss issues. But surprisingly, few users share their creations, possibly because you can't post anything without registering, and there's a strict parent-permission policy for kids under 13. Parents might want to help teens make sure all possible profile-privacy controls are set -- the boards are pretty clean, but default settings let users message each other, and kids could easily list their locations or share other personal information in their profiles.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the differences among telling someone a story verbally, writing it down, or telling it using pictures. Which method does your child prefer?

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Explaining something with pictures can sometimes be easier than just using words -- or it can be harder. Review your child's Comic Life creation and go over the plot: Does everyone understand it? Is there anything else they could include to make the story clearer?

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  • Presenting ideas and actions in chronological order is a key element of storytelling. Does your child's story have a clear beginning, middle, and end? How can the action be structured so it makes the most sense?

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Website details

Subjects:Language & Reading: storytelling, writing
Arts: drawing, photography
Skills:Creativity: imagination, making new creations
Communication: conveying messages effectively, presenting
Tech Skills: digital creation
Genre:Creating
Price:$9.99 to upgrade from Comic Life 1; $29.99 to purchase new
Pricing structure:Free to Try, Paid

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