Friday, April 18, 2014

Thirteenth Assignment

This week we will have part 2 of our Skype conversations with comics professionals as Becky Cloonan is scheduled to Skype in, A great follow up for last week's excellent and inspiring conversation with Jordie Bellaire, Becky can talk with experience about penciling, comics illustration and writing for both mainline comics publishers as well as independents including self-publication. Becky has been nominated for an Eisner Award three times which pretty much speaks for itself in terms of how highly she is regarded in the comics community. I have put some examples of her comics work on the course resource page and you should read them before coming to class. Think about what questions you want to ask Becky.

After Becky's visit I will start the schedule of individual appointments to review your blogs and do the grade evaluation. This will be our last group meeting of the year. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thirteenth Assignment: Skype Appearance by Jordie Bellaire

This week we will have the first of two weeks in which we have guest speakers talking about the business of comics and the life of a comics professional. Our first guest will be Jordie Bellaire a recent graduate of Ringling (2010) whose rise to the status of rock-star colorist has been meteoric. Over the last four years she has colored nearly 300 comics culminating in her selection last week as a finalist for an Eisner award, the academy awards of the comics industry. You can get an idea of her work by reading her blog,

Jordie Colors Things on Tumblr at

You should read this blog which will answer a lot of questions you might have and give you some insight into the workings of the comics business. Please bring your laptops to class this week and come prepared to ask Jordie questions. Next week we will have the second of our guest speakers, Becky Cloonan an artist and writer working for a range of american comics including work for Vertigo and Tokyopop. She was the first woman to draw the main Batman title. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Twelfth Assignment: Research Publisher's Submission Requirements

This week you are asked to research the submission guidelines for a comics publisher in which you are interested. If you go to the Script Archives website using the link on this page, you can go to the part of the site that archives submissions from all publishers. Use that to go the publisher's website for the latest information. Or you can try to go directly to the publisher's website and look for the submission guidelines yourself. Write a blog post reporting on what you have learned about submitting work to that publisher. We will discuss submissions in class. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Eleventh Assignment: A Comic in Manga Style

Letting yourself be influenced by manga style of storytelling, tell either a two page complete story or two pages of a longer story in comics. Try to use screen tones as a technique that will bring your work closer to traditional manga. The idea is not so much to replicate manga as a style or narrative but to be influenced by manga and anime to create a personal take on comics under the influence of Asian models. Please post your comics on your blog. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Tenth Assignment: Mystery

This week we are writing a synopsis for a mystery story. It is recommended that you write this plot in reverse, starting with whodunit and working backwards providing clues that both lead and mislead the detective. Create a detective to solve the mystery. You will be writing two stories, one which is the story you want to suggest is true, the other, the story that is the true explanation. You need not construct the panels and pages for this story, just the story outline. 

Remember the detective story is largely a character driven narrative in which the plot is a device to introduce interesting characters and character interaction with the detective as the foil and the progression of suspects as characters whose eccentricities enliven and create conflict. In your synopsis be sure to describe the eccentricities and audience appeal of the characters especially the detective and the prime suspects.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Eighth Assignment

Four Directions Comic

Using the method of standing in the four directions we explored in class last week, do a 4-7 page comic that expresses the four or seven directions (East, South, West, North, Up, Down and Inward). Post your comic. The chart on the assignment page for this week might be of some help in organizing your project, but don't take it too literally; the emphasis should be on actually standing in the four directions yourself and what manifests from that experience. Take one page to express each direction in which you stand.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Seventh Assignment: Family Story

From Bullied a Family History
For next week, please write a script for a family story. A story from your family, your own experience of your family or a story that is told within your family.  There is an emphasis on risk-taking in this assignment and opening up the confessional possiblity of comics. You may exaggerate or ground your story in genre codes, for example for a family story on Mars....but make sure you ground your story in your own life and experience. A good example of a family story of this time is Alison Bechtel's Fun Home, one of the most successful graphic novels of the last 10 years. Try to make use of sense memory in writing your story, should feel what it was like to see, hear, taste, smell, experience in our skins what it was like to be there for the events of the story you tell.

Here is a link to the assignment on the syllabus.

Mid-Term: Remember that this week is the midterm and all your assignments for the first half of the semester are due.

Here is a link to my family comic, "My Mom in Boot Heel Comics"

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sixth Assignment: A Slice of Life

Still from the TV pilot for The Deep End
For next week, practice your observation and capture skills. Using found dialogue which you have observed or captured by recording it, create a slice of life comic. Try to stay true to what you have observed.

For examples look at the work of Adrian Tomine, Jessica Abel's Art Babe, or Jeff Nicholson's Through the Habitrails.  Try to find an off-campus location in which to observe and capture your "slice of life." This assignment is all about trying to stay as close to reality as possible although some editing and adaptation usually occurs. The main thrust is to not clean the dialogue up or make it "nice." Please post your assignment on your blog before class.

Here is a link to this week's assignment on the syllabus which includes a link to my comic for this week.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Fifth Assignment: Self Portrait

Self-Portrait in Comics

Make a colorwheel of character traits that represent the three main traits of your own character. What is the dominant trait, its opposite in yourself and a complementary trait. Create a one to four page comic that is a character sketch of yourself. Remember that your character should be shown to us by representing signature actions, gestures or bits of dialogue or monologue. Show us, don't tell us these character traits. 

You don't have to worry about a complete story arc for this comic, just make a coherent slice of life self-portrait. This can be framed an a brief anecdote or family story that features yourself and reveals an important aspect of your character. Outline what you intend to do in some brief fashion and then execute and post the comic in at least pencil rough or better level of finish.

In class this Friday we will review the self-portraits, work on a portrait excercise in-class and prepare to make an observed slice-of-life portrait of someone else who is not a close friend or relation.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Fourth Assignment: Archetypal Characters

The assignment for this week is to  keep a dream diary. Choose one of your dreams and create a 1-4 page comic to tell the dream. It can be longer if necessary but pleas complete it as a pencil rough and post it on your blog. Please stay as close as you can to the actual dream, don't try to change it to make it more sensible.

Read Alan Moore's Writing for Comics. Also consider reading Alan Moore's Promethea, one of his most archetypal comics.   

Friday, January 24, 2014

Third Assignment: Fables

Write an 8-12 page script for a graphic narrative based on a fairy tale of your choice. Use the character color wheel technique explored in class to create characters for your version of the fairy tale that will have sufficient depth and complexity. Feel free to stretch your fairy tale to fit the situation you imagine. Unexpected twists are encouraged. Post your script or a link to it on your blogspace before next class. There are a number of fairy tale resources on the resource page if you need inspiration.

A good example of an adaption of this sort is Bill Willingham's Fables. You might also consider watching the movies Red Riding Hood (2011) and Sydney White (2007) as examples of adaptation of fairy tales.

So far it seems that the word template from the comics script archives works well. It creates a word document which can be posted on blogger. You can try posting it as a .doc or as a .rtf in order to preserve the formatting.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Second Assignment: Adapt a Short Story

For your first major challenge of the semester I would like you to adapt one of the short stories linked on the syllabus or on the course resources page to an comic of less than 20 pages. For this you need to learn comic script form, which isn't hard but takes some practice. A very brief explanation of comic script form is at this site:

How to Format a Comic Book Script

Post your script Blog for this class.

If you would like some examples look at some by various professional authors of comics at the comic script archives. There is also a good Word template that you can download from this site. The link is here and in the course links:

Comic Script Archive

Some students prefer to use a software program that pre-formats the script for comics. Celtx is the one I usually recommend because it is free and has a comic script format included.


You can export your work as html or a pdf file and link it to your portfolio blog.

Please adapt one of the stories available on the Course Resource page, all of these are in public domain and can be adapted as freely as you would like. You are welcome to change anything about the text you need to, place it in a different setting, condense the setting, or whatever, to try to get the best script for comics you can. Please post the script on your blog before coming to class. This is probably the most work intense assignment of the semester. If you have any questions you can ask them by email.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Week One: First Assignment

We will begin this week with a number of in-class writing exercises and an opportunity to go over the requirements of the class and set some personal goals for what you would like to get from this semester. Please bring your notebook computer to class along with something with which to write and draw. The course will focus on writing comics for digital media because this is the most important form of independent publishing today. Because of this, direct digital input is the recommended approach to drawing/writing comics in class. So if you use a drawing tablet for input bring it with you. 

Please create a blog for this class where you can post the scripts, scenarios and comics you make this semester.  Send me the url for your blog, indicating that you are in the Writing for Comics class, so I can link the course blog to your blog.

I have a reading assignment I am asking you to do before we meet which consists of reading several adaptions of short stories into 50 page graphic novels. These are posted on the course resource page in both cbr and pdf formats. If you want to read the cbr (comic book reader) format, you need to download a program or app that can read that format. There are several available and many are free.

I am not so much interested in what the stories I am asking you to read are about, but rather how they are telling the stories they tell. There are seven of them and each takes a different approach in style, narrative breakdown, paneling, etc. to tell the story. Read enough of each story so that you get an idea of how it is being told. Post notes, even single words, on your blog that describe each story you read. We will compare these notes in class.

I am in the process of recoding my website to make it more accessible to smart phones and ipads. So it will look rough and will change frequently for the first few weeks as I break-in my new site.

You can visit the beginnings of the new site design here

The links will take you through to the Writing for Comics course. The new syllabus will be mounted next week, after I have a chance to meet with you as a group. You can use the link above or to the left to navigate to the old syllabus from the last time the course was taught.

You can go directly to the course resource page by using the link in the course links box.