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Iconographic Language in Comics

Written by Ellen Forney Homework to prepare for class:read Understanding Comics Chapter 2 Discuss Understanding Comics Chapter 2: – What does it mean when a celebrity, say, Marilyn Monroe, is called an “icon?” What is an ICON? Is any drawing an icon? Does a simplified reality(vs. physical reality) better focus our attention on an idea. Does something universal (general) communicate more effectively (i.e.: a road sign)? – bottom teir p.36, McCloud’s question: “Would you have listened to me if I looked like THIS?” Yes or no? Do you see yourself in a simplified image? Or how does this universality work? – What are the […] Read More

Comic Strip:Character/Place/Situation

Every student receives a stapled comic strip book. Each student makes a comic at least three panels long in 15 minutes after blindly choosing the following subjects: character & situation situation & place character & place character only situation only place only character, situation, and place Here are some that I put in. The students also write out all three subjects, which are then all put in an envelope and chosen at random. CHARACTER SITUATION PLACE DOT COM GUY/GAL AN ARGUMENT THE MOON SURFER A ROMANTIC BREAKUP THE KITCHEN HOMELESS MAN/WOMAN A REVELATION CONVENIENCE STORE EXECUTIVE A CONFRONTATION THE BEACH […] Read More

The Irony of Humor

Student directions: On one sheet of paper, draw something, anything as FUNNY as you can make it. It can be one drawing, a multi-panel comic, anything, but I want you to give your best effort to make it as FUNNY as possible. On another piece of paper, draw something as SAD as you can make it. It should be really heartbreaking, not capable of producing a snicker or a smile. Try to make sure the students cannot see what the others are drawing. THE RULES: Everything must be identifiably extracted from the real world. You must draw each drawing for […] Read More

Scenes as Building Blocks

I feel that three scenes are the beginning of complexity; two scenes give you two ends of a thread, but the third is when you begin to make loops and knots. Scenes are the building blocks of stories, and in this exercise I tried to focus on combinations of three scenes. We begin a story in one scene (usually one or two pages) that we created in rough draft form for a homework assignment. In class, each scene is given to another student to add a second scene. The original student takes the two scenes (one created by him/her and […] Read More

Comics and Poetry

Written by James Sturm Every word in a poem counts. A word conjures an image, images juxtaposed to create something new or suggest something elusive. Comics, like poetry, are about simplifying and paring down. There is only so much space on a page and every mark must count. Visual concerns are crucial for both mediums. A cartoonist cascades panels across a page as a poet decides the placement of each line and letter.In the examples shown here students were asked to create a twelve panel grid and have text in each panel that alternatively begins “I used to believe/but now […] Read More

Autobiography: Do and Don't

Written by Matt Madden & Jessica Abel Do: Autobiography is a kind of self-portrait. It’s not about what you did, it’s about who you are. Find a story to tell that has something to say about you and the way you are. Think about structure: You need to impose, if not 3-act structure, then at least some kind of cadence or rhythm on events that may not have had any structure at all. Be tough with yourself and be honest about your role in events and how others act towards you. Don’t: Don’t just write an anecdote, that is, don’t […] Read More

Intro to Lettering

Show some examples of different ways comic artists letter and draw balloons. I like to emphasize that the text should be approached as an integral part of the comic, and can be as individual as an artist’s drawing style. Demonstration 1: Show how letters are put together by individual strokes, as in calligraphy Demonstration 2: Show how to put letters together using the strokes, upper case and lower case. Exercise 1: Draw different strokes in a line. straight angle curve Exercise 2: Write the alphabet using those basic strokes Upper case and lower case. Demonstration 3: Show how to draw […] Read More

Expressive Lettering and Balloons

  Written by Ellen Forney Understanding Comics Chapter 5 is useful for this lesson, especially page 134.Discuss: How do you make lettering engaging to read? To read easily? To “read” with the sound of a voice?The right lettering will allow the reader to feel comfortable reading. The best lettering blends in naturally with the art around it. The best lettering, from a purely technical standpoint, is spelled correctly, laid out legibly, and flows smoothly.Write “LETTERING” and “BALLOONS” on board:(Use “What?” or other versatile words to demonstrate effects): LETTERING DEMO : •Standard lettering: upper case, lower case, variations on comic book fonts •Special […] Read More

Intro to Inking

1. I show how to use crow quill pens and brushes, and show some techniques that are possible with ink: cross hatching parallel lines different textures washes thick/thin line 2. I also mention ways of describing space, besides the obvious use of mathematical perspective: overlapping (very obvious but very important) contrast of size (larger=closer, smaller=further) placement (high=far, low=near) Aerial perspective (greater contrasts=closer, lesser contrasts=further) THE EXERCISE Draw a room, any room, with anything you like in it. Have fun; make it as nonsensical as you care to. Fill the room with objects people, whatever. But think of how to describe […] Read More

Describing the Complex World

Teacher’s note:This is a project that aims to bridge the gap between drawing from life and more applied work like comics and storyboarding. It is a project that requires students to gather a lot of visual reference in their sketchbook and then bring it back to the studio and use this information to come up with a narrative. It teaches a number of valuable lessons. It gets students drawing from life, WITH A PURPOSE. They will come to value the importance of reference and keeping good sketchbooks. They also will realize that the world offers an unequaled reference resource, just […] Read More