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. Through focused assignments the class will cover the following; 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, etc.), Comics in Pop Culture, etc.
What will you learn in this course?
• Understand the language specific to graphic novels.
• Understand 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
• Learning to write in a range of forms and genres.
• Become familiarized with the contemporary writing scene
Suggested Readings or Links to other content
Words for Pictures (Brian Michael Bendis)
Suggested 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)
• USB drive with a minimum memory capacity of 2GB or the use of Google drive or Dropbox is recommended
• Sketchbook (suggested, for notes, planning projects and idea sketching)
Students are encouraged to purchase a folder to file handouts from class.