Frank and Spook: Operation Haunted House

comic serial by Andrew Cranna

Learning Intention:

I am learning to identify how illustrations help extend the meaning of a text so that I can create a text using both pictures and words.


Success Criteria:

  • I can identify how facial expressions help the reader better understand characters
  • I can explain how illustrations can be part of the narrative
  • I can create a comic strip that uses both illustrations and words to tell a story.


Oral language and communication:

Have students view the first part of the comic Frank & Spook on page 2 of this issue of Countdown. Show students how to read the comic strip, following the panels across and down. Read through the dialogue aloud. Discuss how the illustrations enhance the meaning of the text by asking the following questions:

How do Frank and Spook’s facial expressions tell the reader how they feel about Wendy Witch’s potion at the beginning? (Smiling - happy, excited)

While the dialogue says the wombat snot is gross, how do Frank and Spook’s facial expressions give more meaning to their reactions? (Frank’s tongue is sticking out in disgust, Spook is holding his hands over his mouth as if he’s about to vomit, telling the reader they are truly sickened by the idea of wombat snot)

How does the portrayal of Archie the bat in the last panel convey his character? (He looks silly, his tongue sticking out and his eyes different sizes, making him appear as a kooky character)


Alternatively, if you have a digital subscription, complete the interactive activity How Pictures Help Make Meaning.


Understanding text:

Read through the second part of the comic serial Frank & Spook on page 35. Ask students the following question:

- What event happens in the illustrations that the text doesn’t explain? (Archie pours in the potion)

- The text mentions Leo the dog is jumpy. What information do the illustrations give about Leo’s behaviour? (He’s seen the potion added to the family’s dinner)

- How do the characters’ facial expressions tell the reader more about how they’re feeling? (Multiple answers possible, such as the children’s faces show they are excited at the idea of the Curry Surprise)


Creating text:

Explain that students will be creating their own comic where the narration or dialogue only tells a portion of the story so the rest of the story can be told in the illustrations. Brainstorm ideas of how this could work. For example:

- The text could say “Holly was having a lovely time at the park” but the illustration shows Holly is a dog rolling in the mud while the family watch on in disgust

- The text could say “I was coming first in the race until -” and the illustration shows the character tripping over


For panel templates, either use Canva, have students draw their own or find a template online, such as Comic Strip Template.


Assessment for/as learning:

Students read their comic strip text aloud to a peer without letting the peer see the illustrations. Give the peer a few seconds to imagine what the text is about, then reveal the illustrations. Peers explain what surprised them about the illustrations, and how it changed their understanding of the text.