The University of the arts

Graphic Storytelling
The University of the Arts

CE 5150N 01 Graphic Storytelling

CE 5150N 01

    • CE Classes banner


Christian Patchell



Spring 2018

  • (Jan. 30 to Apr. 10)
  • Tue 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
  • 0.00 Credits
  • 0.00 Credits
  • Tuition: $295 / Fees: $20
Graphic Storytelling allows students to create original works of fiction and nonfiction as they pertain to the sequential format. Combining the use of imagination, observation and reference while utilizing a variety of media, writing develops through a series of exercises and assignments and evolves into finished and more polished work. Exercises/assignments focus on: character/world-building, story structure, and utilizing one-panel, four-panel and multi-panel/page formats. Skills learned in this class may be applied to comics and graphic novels, as well as other similar genres such as animation and video games.

NOTE: The correct meeting times of this course are 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM. The published brochure lists 9:00 PM. 

Course Overview

This course will provide students hands-on experience and conceptual insights related to the many facets of Graphic Storytelling through Assignments, Exercises, Demonstrations and Lectures. Students will be exposed to the varied applications for their writing such as comics, cartoons and graphic novels. The approaches and techniques will apply to writing and outside disciplines alike in both their application towards craft and insight into the medium. Through a series of in class demonstrations and discussions students will create original works. Students are encouraged to work within the many different genres within comics (not just super heroes) as well as experiment with different approaches, styles and techniques. The class will emphasize the importance of visual storytelling. There will also be an emphasis on conceptualizing and creating a personal narrative regardless of the assignment. 

What will you learn in this course?

• Understand the language specific to graphic novels.

• Understanding of comics as a medium for personal narratives.

• Complete several working scripts for comics/graphic novels in different formats.

  (including but not limited to: single panel, four-panel, multiple-panel and multiple-page layouts)

• Understand and experiment with several different approaches to writing for graphic novels.

• Be exposed to the various markets and genres of graphic novels, looking beyond just superheroes.

• Understand and experiment with the three-act structure.

• Build a familiarity with writers and artists working within the medium of comics.

• Be introduced to the art of collaboration as it relates to comics and other disciplines.

• Be introduced to the history of comics as it relates to American History and the influence of the

 graphic novel on a global scale.

• Read, analyze and understand one of the great works in graphic storytelling.

• Meet and discuss working sequentially with at least one guest per semester.

• Build a repertoire of writing approaches as they pertain to graphic novels and creative writing in


• Learn to write in a range of forms and genres.

• Become familiarized with the contemporary writing scene

What topics will be covered?

Creating Interesting Characters and Environments, Basic Comics Language and Vocabulary, Creating Original and Interesting Concepts, Three Act Narratives, Juxtaposing Image with Text, Problem Solving, the Art of Collaboration, Making Assignments Personal, Experimental Storytelling/Structure and the various outlets for the stories they create. There will also be academic components covering: the History of  Comics, Graphic Novels in other mediums (i.e. video games, movies, television), and Comics in Pop Culture.

Required Texts

Words for Pictures (Brian Michael Bendis)

Recommended (but not required)

Understanding Comics (Scott McCloud)
Syllabus (Lynda Barry)

Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative (Eisner)

Drawing Words and Writing Pictures (Jessica Abel and Matt Madden)
99 Ways to Tell a Story (Matt Madden)
Powers Scriptbook (Bendis/Oeming)

Our Cancer Year (Brabner/Pekar)

The Education of a Comics Artist (Dooley/Heller)
The Webcomics Handbook (Brad Guigar)
Alan Moore’s Writing for Comics (Alan Moore/Avatar Press)

Screenplay by Disney (Jason Surrell)
The Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, Lynn Varley)

Additional Supplies

A flash/thumb drive or the use of Google drive or Dropbox is recommended.

Students are encouraged to purchase a folder to file handouts from class.

This course uses the University’s computer labs for demonstrations, class work and presentations and varying aspects of every homework assignment. Students should have computer availability and digital familiarity. Programs include: Microsoft Word and Powerpoint and/or iwork (Pages, Numbers, Keynote programs).

    • Christian Patchell_Work Example