Sarah McIntyre, the author and illustrator of popular children's books including Jampires, There's A Shark In The Bath, and You Can't Eat A Princess, has presented an inspiring response to the massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo earlier this week. On her Twitter account she declared, "Let 2015 be the year more people from around the world take up cartooning/comics to tell their stories."

Cartoonists responded to the deaths at Charlie Hebdo -- which included the deaths of five of their peers -- with cartoons that encouraged defiance and free expression. McIntyre took the idea one step further, encouraging people who have never expressed themselves through cartoons to see this as a moment to stand up and tell their stories. On her Livejournal she offers advice on how to get started.

Starting with an overview of some of her (and our) favorite cartoonists, including Kate Beaton, Raina Telgemeier, Lucy Knisley, and Anthony 'Nedroid' Clark, she goes on to reassure aspiring cartoonists that clear communication is more important than sophisticated art, and that there's no obligation to make humor cartoons, or to stick to any prescribed list of topics.

McIntyre's advice is refreshingly egalitarian and encouraging. On the difference between cartoons, comics, webcomics and graphic novels, she explains, "a cartoon is a one-panel comic, where everything happens in a single picture. ... A comic is something that tells a story in two pictures or more," but prefaces this by saying, "it doesn't really matter, just make what you like."

McIntyre also offers some tips for getting started and finding inspiration, such as:

Set yourself small projects. Don't set out right away to make an EPIC 200-page graphic novel. You'll get overwhelmed by the size of the project that you'll be tempted to quit, and your drawing will have changed quite drastically by the end of it, because you'll be improving as you go. Start small. A four-panel comic. An 8-page little book. A drawing a day. Here are some small projects I've enjoyed:


- Hourly Comic: Make a comics panel or set of panels for every hour you're awake. (It's like being on your own reality television show.) Here's a huge online collection of people's hourly comics.

- Draw yourself as a teenager.




- Take part in a Comics Jam. Have a friend draw one panel, you draw the next, your friend draws the next, and so on. You can find a detailed guide to leading a Comics Jam on the Jampires website, and here's a Jampires Comics Jam that I drew with my friend David O'Connell (who makes ace comics).

- Make a whole book in a single day. (That forces you not to be too precious about it; the goal is just go finish it.) A hardcore version of this is the 24-Hour Comic, where you draw a 24-page book in 24 hours. I did this for the first time this year (see my full comic here.)

You can read all of McIntyre's advice on her Livejournal. If you've any interest in picking up a pencil and sharing your voice, it's a great place to start.

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