This course will expose students to the unique language of visual storytelling popularly referred to as “comics” or “graphic novels.” In essence, it will be a creative writing workshop in the inexhaustible art of making comics aimed at beginners and enthusiasts alike. Students will be exposed to a brief history of how this art has developed and to some of its many forms and genres. Through essential critical readings, practical homework, and lab assignments they will develop an understanding of how text and sequential images create a different kind of reading experience and storytelling. Over the course of the semester, students will work together by taking on a variety of roles in the making of comics, read groundbreaking comics theory and criticism, analyze now-classic and experimental comics, adapt a variety of prose & verse genres into comics, and ultimately the creation of a team-based graphic novel project.
Although this is not intended as a course in drawing, all students will be expected to explore storytelling through the combination of words and cartoons (yes, stick figures are fine!). Working in this method creates a unique and hands-on understanding of the creative process in comics. In-class reviews and group critiques will give students direct insight into how certain choices of composition affect the storytelling process. During the first half of the semester, the course will rigorously combine theory and practice, navigating through a slew of different genres (e.g. poem, short story, novel, journalism, film) and how these can be transmogrified into comics form. The second half will be dedicated to the production of a longer comic project. We will also welcome the visit of a few guest speakers from DC Comics, Marvel Comics, and the wider comics world.