Superheroes are all around us: at the movies, on TV, in comic books.
This summer, roughly 200 children have been creating their own superheroes as part of a class called Origin Stories, presented by Ink Artspace. Today, several dozen of the kids’ comic books will be on display as part of First Friday.
There’s Thunder Girl and Supercat. There’s the guy who blinds his foes with the orange dust from Cheetos, and the girl with the power to sense pain and heal it. There’s the Indominitable Carnivorous Stick Man, with a fork and spoon for hands.
Spokane novelist Jess Walter, who founded Ink Artspace, created the Origin Stories class with graphic novelist (and middle school teacher) Sam Mills as a way to get children writing.
“I was thinking about the things that got me into writing when I was a kid, and it was the Flash comic books. The Justice League of America. The superhero comics,” Walter said.
He wanted the kids to think about their own lives and skills, and how to use those as the basis for a superpower. He uses his own life as an example.
“I talk to the kids about powers and weaknesses and I tell them how I got a stick in my left eye when I was 5,” he said. That injury, that weakness, meant he didn’t play outside at recess for two years.
“So the time when you become a really good reader, I’m in the library instead of outside playing kickball. Otherwise, I’d be a professional kickball player rather than this crappy career I have now.”
Ink first offered Origin Stories last year for the NATIVE Project’s summer program. It was such a hit, it returned there this year and was offered at Garry Middle School and at several Spokane Public Library branches.
Today’s First Friday also marks a revision in Ink’s own origin story. Ink opened in 2014 in downtown with a mission to offer free classes in literary, visual and performing arts. This summer, the group relocated across the river to the Spark Center in Kendall Yards. Tonight is the first Ink event in the new space, and the first class, a Girls Rock Lab, will be held there later this month.
Spark is a community center offering creative arts and technology programming and a library for all ages.
The collaboration is going well, said Brooke Matson, who splits her time as program director for both groups.
“Our missions overlap quite a bit so it’s a natural fit,” she said. “Ink has wanted to do more art programs of older groups, and this space lends itself well to that.”
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