Teaching Comics

Recently I was asked to give a lecture on THE GRAPHIC NARRATIVE for a San Francisco State University creative writing course. My three-hour workshop was called:

“Crash Course Comics for Creative Writing Majors”

The following comics were created that day by writing students who had never made comics before:
How the class worked: In three hours we covered a brief  history of comics, heard from renowned comics scholar Scott McCloud (via YouTube), examined a variety of current graphic narrative styles, and outlined a “language” for making comics. Finally, the students made their own comics.
Their instructions: The work had to employ sequential images, be no more than one page, and based (at least loosely) on a paragraph they had written for the assignment.
The focus of their writing class was  “The Short Short Story”, and we preserved that theme for our workshop.   The story is king.  Regardless of  length or how well it is drawn.  Good comics happen when good stories are told. As the students finished, we taped their pieces along the wall and talked about what stood out to us as readers; we noticed story structure, narrative voice, and the concept of distillation– what is refined or “left out” of the story and the image frame– as well as what narrative leaps occurred while crossing the “gutters” from one panel to another.