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Composing Graphic Narratives
The graphic narrative is a popular and increasingly appreciated form of literary art. The graphic narrative is also an emerging form of journalism, appearing in magazines from the New Yorker to Nature. And, as design theorists like Edward Tufte have shown (and as we know from our doctor’s office to our music player manuals), the graphic narrative is a vital medium of instructional and explanatory communication.

Composing graphic narratives is an advanced writing workshop devoted to producing both fiction and non-fiction through comics and other forms of text-image communication. We'll explore ways to communicate information, construct arguments, and tell stories through the medium of graphic narrative. The course approaches graphic narrative as a flexible form of writing that uses images, text, narrative structure, and page design as active parts of its "language."

Assignments cover storytelling and the conventions of graphic narrative technique such as image sequencing, cropped images, rapid shifts of point of view, changes of scale, speech and thought balloons, and motion lines. We’ll also combine these conventions with the traditional lexicon of explanatory and instructional graphics, such as arrows, node diagrams, numerical notation, and spark lines.

We will study a range of examples, including works by Chris Ware, Eddie Campbell, Allan Moore, and Marjane Satrapi, and supplement our creative work and class discussion with criticism and theoretical readings from Scott McCloud, Edward Tufte, Roland Barthes, and Henry Jenkins (among others).

Students will use Comic Life, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator. NO prior technical knowledge or drawing experience is required for this course. As part of the course, we will experiment with several alternatives to traditional line drawing, including clip art, collage, Situationist-style "détournement," and digital photography.

For more information, please check out Professor Jonathan Bass's website with tutorials, demos, and sample assignments. 


Writing Program Calendar