Professor Woolley | BAM 70500-02 | FALL23

Tag: WEEK 1 (Page 1 of 2)

Week 1 | AUG 29

Class Info: Tuesday 6:30-8:30

CUNY Graduate Center room 6417

To-Do Before Class:



ICE BREAKER ACTIVITY: Ivan Brunetti Cartooning Style 


ACTIVITY: Lynda Barry 3 min Self Portraits in Brunetti Style. 

DISCUSS: What’s Your Why? Class Introductions.

Who am I?


Comics are language. Every language can be learned.  You’ll find this course is front-loaded with language acquisition tools and idea generation tools.   My goal is to get you ready to share your personal narratives in sequential art format as quickly as possible.

DISCUSS: What is Sequential Art? (a.k.a Comics) Class Relationship with Comics

Broad Overview of Genres and Styles – Biography and Memoir in Sequential Art.

Comics are a language with a distinct Grammar Set.  It’s made up of Sequential Reading (left -right up down), of grammatical parts which are composed of BOTH words and images.

(Realistic drawing is NOT a requirement.) 


Review academic policies, syllabus, calendar, and async resources

Craft, Community, and Culture!

  • Course Structure
  • Reading VS. Making
  • Reading List
  • Critique and Discussion: Class Discord
  • In-class activities (Like the one we just did!)
  • Grading Policy: EFFORT, TIME, CARE, GROWTH, STORY, CRAFT, CLARITY (not rendering.)

DISCUSS: Do we need to DRAW to make comics? NO! (…but it helps.)

Value of a sketchbook. Why work and write by hand?

Optional DRAWING ASSIGNMENT. (Since this is not a drawing class!)

DISCUSS: Our First Character – an exploration of self / personal voice.  What is VOICE in Comics? What you choose to say and how you choose to say it!

DISCUSS: Value of Daily Diary for Life Writing

INTRODUCE: Lynda Barry’s Diary Format – Share Mine – Create Template

ACTIVITY: Meet the Artist / Comics Selfie / Share Mine

(Begin in class if time allows)

Consider the different ways text and image interact on a page.  Consider your personal visual style or play with styles you find interesting and experiment!

Create a “meet the artist” page in your sketchbook with a comic version of yourself as a method of exploring your voice.  Challenge yourself to try multiple ways of using words + images together. 

Infographics, cross sections, embedded text (in the background or on an item?), maps, dialogue, signage, sound effects, and captions, are all options. 


Due Next Week


  • In Sketchbook (aim for 5) DAILY DIARY PAGES
  • Complete your Meet the Artist / Artist Selfie   *KEEP IT SIMPLE*

READ: Lynda Barry Making Comics Excerpt

READ: Chapters 1 & 2 Understanding Comics

READ: Inventing Comics by Dylan Horrocks

READ: Dear Sophie, Love Sophie – By Sophie Lucido Johnson



Understanding Comics is arguably the most important book of comics theory. It is a comprehensive toolkit for learning the language of comics. Since its publication in 1993, it has in many ways defined the genre.

However, are there considerations McCloud is missing?

How does it stand up after 26 years when viewed through a contemporary lens?

Please read this analysis of the work:

Inventing Comics: Scott McCloud’s Definition of Comics, by Dylan Horrocks (first published in the Comics Journal #234, June 2001

Understanding Comics has become something of a manifesto for many in the comics community. It constructs a way of talking about comics that affirms and supports our longing for critical respectability and seems to offer an escape from the cultural ghetto.

Crucial to that ‘way of talking about comics’ is Scott’s definition of the ‘form.’ In a sense he uses this definition to establish the limits of the territory which he will go on to explore – and claim – on behalf of the comics community. But like any definition, it is necessarily an expression of certain values and assumptions. By saying, ‘This is comics,’ Scott is really saying: ‘This is what comics should be; it is what we should valuemost about them.’ On the other hand, he’s also saying what comics should not be, and, by implication, what we should value less about them.

Let’s take a closer look at that definition, then, and see what it reveals about McCloud’s agenda, and what he (and his constituency within the comics community) value most, and least, about comics.


The people I look to most in teaching the art of comics are Ivan Brunetti, Jessica Abel, and Lynda Barry. You’ll notice when you read this excerpt that some of the exercises are how we opened our class. (THANKS LYNDA!)

Please pay particular attention to her philosophy around the practice of observation and the relationship between the daily diary and life writing.

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