Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Create Your Own Comix Strips at Make Beliefs Comix

Create Your Own Comix Strips at Make Beliefs Comix

Fall 2009 Website
Ages: 8 - 20 yrs.
Artist: Tom Bloom
Designer: Toby Rosser
Designer: William Zimmerman
Not Listed: Chris Andreola
Review: allows users to create original comic strips by selecting characters and adding their own text. The site is geared toward children, and instructions for use are clear and simple, making it a fun and age-appropriate actitivy for kids 8 and up - although those as young as 5 could create comics with their parents' help and have plenty of fun along the way.

Site creator Bill Zimmerman is an author and journalist with a background in pioneering interactive web features for kids to compliment the newspaper for which he worked. However, he grew up with a passion for collecting comic books, and all of those elements come together to make as site with as much educational value as entertainment value. There are story prompts to help kids' creativity kick in, and a respectable list of suggestions for using the site in the classroom, and comics can be created in 6 different languages: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Latin and Portuguese. Thanks to its very nature, though, any kid using the site informally will end up applying lots of creativity, writing, reading, and imagination. Graphics are simple, bright and eye-catching; and in the section that invites users to choose a character, choices are diverse in age, gender, and ethnicity (some are even animal/human morphs) and one character is in a wheelchair. Users then get to choose from a variety of emotions, e.g. angry, sad, curious, etc., for the characters, and all of it is sensitively illustrated. There's nothing negative in the choices themselves, however, children supply the text to go with the pictures so parents will want to keep an eye on the stories kids create and make sure it all stays constructive and fun. Although the site does not currently store the comics users create, there is an option to print them; and users also can email comics, which offers a very original and personal way for kids to send an email greeting card to family and friends.

Gina Catanzarite   ©2009 Parents' Choice
Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster's Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.

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