Explore the different languages in your life through comics with Kate Gavino. You can pick up a copy of Kate’s book Sanpaku from our friends at Bookshop, where proceeds will help benefit The Believer and independent bookstores.

Watch the video of the livestream below and follow these steps to create three comics about the languages in your life.

For this workshop you will need paper and something to draw with.

Prompt 1: Language personalities

Step 1: Think about the way your personality changes based on the language you are speaking. 

Step 2: For each language you speak, draw one panel. 

Step 3: In each panel, draw a self-portrait of you doing the same action (Kate’s example: ordering a coffee), but speaking each of your languages and taking on a different language personality.

Prompt 2: Your favorite hard-to-translate phrase/word

Step 1: Think of a favorite phrase or word in one of your languages that contains multiple definitions.

Step 2: Draw someone saying the phrase or word. It could be the first person you heard say it, someone who says it often, etc. 

Step 3: Show the different definitions of the phrase or word in the comic.  

Prompt 3: The misunderstanding

Step 1: Think of a misunderstanding you experienced when using a language you weren’t fluent in. You’ll use the story to create a three-panel comic.

Step 2: In panel 1, set the scene and provide exposition.

Step 3: In panel 2, change things up with a twist or some action.

Step 4: In panel 3, wrap things up with the resolution/punchline.

We’d love to see your bilingual comics! Post them to social and tag @believermag and @kategavino. 

This workshop was supported in part by Zappos.

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