Garen Ewing Comics Workshop

Waterstone’s Deansgate Children’s Party, Sunday 1st July, 1pm, Waterstone’s

Words and photographs by Emma Reynolds


On Sunday the 1st of July the Waterstones Deansgate Children’s Party takes place in the afternoon. Garen Ewing, creator of the fantastic adventure comics series  The Rainbow Orchid, runs an engaging and interactive ‘Comic Characters’ workshop, as well as signing books for fans at the end of the event.

Garen starts off by introducing himself and his comics, and then dives straight in to asking the children to give him some examples of different facial expressions. The kids all have juice, raisins and plenty of pens and paper, ready to draw their own characters, starting with the faces. After showing how you can create different emotions by making adjustments to the shape of the character’s eyes, mouth and eye brows – Garen moves on to starting with different shaped heads.
It is a great exercise because it’s always tempting to start with a circle, but by beginning with a square, a triangle or any other shape, the characters become more original, individual and expressive, with the head shape helping to accentuate their personality. Once they draw a variety of heads, everyone adds bodies, hair, beards, hats, horns and other assorted accessories to their characters to make them their own!
Next, Garen asks the children to shout out some ideas for what a really nasty villain would be like. They come out with some fantastic and utterly foul ideas, which is brilliant to watch, including a ‘Black Hole Gun’, and ‘Bugs in his teeth!’ Garen then encourages them to start designing their own villain, while he sets to work visualising their super villain on his drawing board.
To counter the super villain, next of course comes the super hero! And what a dashing fellow he was too – handsome, hilarious and with an afro that people can get stuck in! After everyone had finished their heroes, Garen winds down the workshop by showing them some of his concept drawings for his characters, and explains how he changed and developed his characters until he was happy with them, encouraging the children to do the same.
Garen drawing his main character from his comic series: Historical-research assistant, Julius Chancer
It is fascinating hearing about Garen’s attention to detail and in-depth research into the 1920’s time period, explaining to the group how the Natural History Museum used to look, and how he wanted to make sure his portrayal of Ancient Greek was accurate. Garen also tells us the story behind the Breguet 280T aircraft featured in the comic – 0nly twenty one were ever made in real life – so after carefully tracking down some blue prints, he was able to ask a friend who builds model aeroplanes to make him one so that he could draw it from any angle he needed for the story.
A huge thank you to Garen Ewing and Waterstones Deansgate for hosting the event!
You can find out more about The Rainbow Orchid series over on Garen’s website here. You can also keep up to date with his news on his blog and follow him on @garenewing 
Emma is a freelance illustrator from Manchester, with a passion for narrative story telling, creating characters and producing original and whimsical illustrations. She is currently working on her book ‘Reynard the Detective’. You can follow Emma on her blog at Emma Reynolds Illustration, on twitter @emmaillustrate and on Facebook. And to see her portfolio you can visit her website too, here.

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