Making a Comic Book of our Family History

When my son was born, I asked my mom if she could write a paragraph about my great-grandfather for his baby book, because my son is named after him. My mother was so inspired by the project, she ended up writing a book about my great-grandparents. The book is a tremendous document of our family history, and also an incredible portrait of life in eastern Newfoundland just after World War I.

Why Did We Make a Comic Book of our Family History?

Some stories in the book are funny, because my great-grandfather was a prankster. One day as I was walking my kids to school, I told them a story from the book. They loved it so much, they kept asking me to repeat it. I decided to go through my mother’s book for more stories that my children could understand.

I tried to think of how I could make these stories into a booklet so they could read them. Generally, my kids prefer comic books, so I decided to make a small comic book. I could make copies to give my mother, my grandmother and my nephew for Christmas.

Comic Books are a Lot of Work

Little did I realize how much work it takes to make a comic book – but I drew a small one in time for Christmas. The most difficult part was trying to make the dialogue sound somewhat authentic to Newfoundland, since the turn of phrase in my birth province is truly unique. While I was born there, I did not grow up there, so I do not naturally know what sounds “right.”

My mother loved the book so much that she asked me to teach her how to draw in this comic book format. She then drew many, many more. My husband worked with her to organize it and improve each panel using Photoshop. They then printed many copies at Lulu.com.

I want to share one page in particular as a follow-up to my previous blog about rug hooking in Newfoundland. It is the page about how my grandmother’s family cared for their hooked rugs. The main character in this panel is my great-aunt Alma, who lives now in Virginia Beach.

Cleaning Hooked Mats - a comic by Gloria Brown

Cleaning Hooked Mats – a comic by Gloria Brown

I would be interested in finding other people who have made family comic books. Have you ever tried to illustrate the stories that you are trying to pass on to your children?

7 thoughts on “Making a Comic Book of our Family History

  1. Joan Foster on

    I love the comic book format. The story is quite similiar to my mother’s of how her mother cleaned the mats. I have a painting my sister did of our grandmother scrubbing mats outside and hanging them over the fence to dry.

  2. Jeff Hanlon on

    I love it! I especially like the inclusion of local phrases. Makes it so much more real. Keep the ideas coming in this blog…. and thanks for sharing!

    • Carla Brown on

      Thanks Jeff! Based on your holiday card, you have some adventures that could make a good comic book too! Can’t wait to see you this summer.

  3. Marna on

    Great idea! Justin drew me a comic book that isn’t historical but is based on my life here as a mom. Moms are portrayed as super-heroes. John likes to draw comics, too, but they mostly involve robots….

    • Carla Brown on

      Those are Russell’s favorite types of comics to draw also. I would love to see any of his comic books!

  4. Linda Kelly on

    Hi Gloria, we so enjoyed meeting you and Brownie in NMB! Found this website ,just such a delightful read! Hope to see you next year! Good luck with your next publishing!

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