The Empathic Impact of Art Celebrated in a Community Comic Jam!

Comic Jam: An Intergenerational Spontaneous Cartooning Event in the Berkshires

What is a Comic Jam? It is a collaborative storytelling adventure for cartoonists of all ages and abilities. Each artist will contribute to one another’s comics, creating unexpected and exciting stories! This project encourages creativity, working together, critical thinking and storytelling.

Various scientific research studies in the last several years have explored the neurological impact of reading in general and reading fiction in particular. A psychologist from York University in Canada found a connection between reading fiction and the ability to empathize.

Fictional stories are highly focused around people, describing their feelings, desires, and actions. When narration includes a character’s thoughts, the reader knows exactly how that character feels, and the reader sympathizes with these emotions. When characters thoughts are not revealed, readers have to think about the possible emotions and thoughts which lead to the character’s actions. This is the same kind of skill we use every day when interacting with people in our lives.

Storytelling is an even more involved empathetic process. When you combine the creative empathy involved in storytelling, with the therapeutic effects of expressing yourself through pictures, the activity has a profound impact. Comic books and graphic novels do just this- they encourage artists and writers to think about people’s emotions, and the social impact of character’s actions on each other. Plus, when a shared interest brings together community through the lens of creativity, it establishes a shared history that ties neighbors across generations, strengthening their sense of place. 

The Lee Library is hosting a Comic Jam with NY-based artist/educator Ira Marcks. Comic Jam is a collaborative storytelling adventure for cartoonists of all ages and abilities. This event, on Saturday May 21, will encourage participants to think critically, empathetically, and creatively. Each artist will contribute to other artists’ comics, resulting in a collaborative original work which could not be created by a single individual. No prior experience or ability is required. Anyone with an interest in storytelling and creating artwork is invited! Participants can drop in any time between 10:30am and 1:30pm. Bring your friends and family! 413- 243-0385. 100 Main Street, Lee, MA. (FREE)


Comics & Role-Playing Gaming Promote Creativity & Storytelling for Teens
Serving as a continuation of innate childhood creativity, comics and role-playing games offer maturing tweens and teens the opportunity to exercise imagination and creativity within complex structures. Comics challenge readers’ ability to combine textual and visual elements for understanding, while role-playing games challenge players by containing creative story-telling to a pre-existing structure. Families can utilize a handful of community resources to pursue these interests!

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