Comics and Visual Storytelling for Writers
April 19, 2017
“Comics and Visual Storytelling for Writers” (for scholars, historians, journalists, memoirists, writers of all kinds) is an upcoming online course taught by Tom Hart through his Sequential Artists Workshop located here in Gainesville, FL. Which means that I and a few others have been taking the inaugural “in-person” version of this course for the past six weeks. Here are some reasons why you should consider signing up.
I can’t draw. I know in these “anyone can do anything days,” I’m not supposed to say that, but really. And this class has not taught me to draw. That’s not the point. What it has done is taught me a lot about how think visually. We took someone else’s words and created a series of panels. We took wordless comic panels and sorted and arranged them into a story, both wordless and then with text. We took our own prose and using what we’d learned about visual metaphor, moving through time, and page design as well as so much more, we transformed plain text into something else, something dynamic and exciting. We looked at each other’s work and admired and commented, and I was inspired by my classmates’ imaginations.
Once again, I don’t draw in any way that could be described as visually exciting. But it turns out that a lot of comic book writers don’t draw. Instead they collaborate with artists. This last class, as I worked with an old flash nonfiction essay of mine, I collaborated with myself.
The artist (I feel more comfortable calling myself the page designer) told the writer that she needed to figure out what was important and simplify the text. The writer suggested to the artist/page designer that the image of the mother in the hospice bed be more detailed. The artist/page designer reminded the writer that the drawing of war-torn London did the work of the text about it and did it better. The rest of the class said the photo of the mother on the beach in a bikini needed to be more central. And now I don’t have this fancy graphic memoir all out there on the page, but I do have a plan, a visual and written outline.
And here’s something—this is a piece about my mother dying that was originally published in Sweet. It’s been many years since it made me sad, but there, in class, as I transformed the words into visual images, I sobbed.
Anyway, now this class is going to be available online to all of you, everywhere. Think about it.