“The Mysterious Murky Water and the Poacher Problem” is a living graphic novel created and published by students in Shari Cottingham’s third-grade class at Tipton Elementary School.
Through a grant from the Tippecanoe Arts Federation Artist in Residence program, funded by JP Morgan Chase, a “living graphic novel” collaborative workshop was presented by Steven Koehler of Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette, Craig Martin of Purdue University Galleries and Morgan Reitmeyer of Words on the Go.
Living graphic novel offers the opportunity for students to develop short stories and illustrate them through the development of live “scenes” using actors, painted sets and framing devices, in the style of graphic novels or comic books. The project emphasizes literacy, writing skills, creativity and artistic design.
Cottingham’s students each studied a species of endangered animal throughout the 2009-2010 school year, which provided the impetus for the story. Over the span of several classroom visits, with the assistance of the living graphic novel team, the class imagined a story involving each of their endangered animals, wrote and storyboarded the narrative, painted set backdrops, costumed, staged and photographed “frames” from their story. These images were later developed in Photoshop into a graphic novel-style presentation, complete with narrative boxes and text balloons.
The authors of the novel are Violet Badger, Crystin Clouser, Ethan Clouser, Spencer Cox, Emily Hunter, Chandler Johnson, Brayden Jones, Emma Kelly, Allie Lobeck, Megan McElfresh, Dylan Muse, Julian Purvis, Abren Ridenour, Kennedy Ripperdan, Nate Sayers, Erin Stiner, Sydney Tousley, Mary Tragesser-Tina and Leland Weekly. Copies of the novel have been purchased and placed at the Tipton Public Library and Tipton Elementary School Library.