From Text to Comics


“I draw what I can’t write, and I write what I can’t draw,” Marjan Satrapi said of her process for making comics. I don’t think she meant it as anything more than a statement of her aesthetic position; but I see this as something of a manifesto, or statement of purpose, for this class: an idea of storytelling where the text and the images exist together as a kind of personal idiom for the writer artist. Our work will take prose writers interested in telling stories visually in the comics form through an introduction to the basics of this form, using exercises, critique, workshop, and comics blogging. Students can come to class with a text they’ve written themselves, with something they plan to write, or with a public domain text that they might want to adapt into a comics format. Poetry, short fiction, prose fiction, memoir—all are valid. I also ask that students keep a comics Tumblr, where they can post a visual notebook of images that they find inspirational or work that they’re reading that other students can follow. No particular drawing skills are a prerequisite, though they can help. We’ll be focusing on visual storytelling, the creation of scripts, the dynamics of adapting something from prose to comics, and the possibilities for the ways in which comics can be created.