Wednesday January 31

  • Take 10 index cards and divide them into stacks of 5. Cut one stack in half. On these half-cards, write down something you overheard in a public place x 2; something you said to someone earlier in the day x 2; A catch phrase or slogan x 2; a question x 2; an interjection x 2. So that’s five prompts, two responses for each.

  • Now on the other five cards: draw the following images (no words allowed): the funniest thing you can think of; the saddest thing in the world; something sexy; something scary; something boring or mundane. Spend no more than 3 or 4 minutes on each card.
  • Now match the images with text from the half-cards. Choose the best two and recreate them on 8 1/2 x 11 paper. If we have time, we’ll share them.

Gypsie Raleigh

comics9These cartoons are a bit like what you’d get if you combined Ziggy (already a bleak little production) and Eraserhead. The artist is Gypsie Raleigh, an artist and playwright who lives in Portland, Oregon. Earlier this year she published a novel called Soolie Beetch and the Dying Light.

Raleigh has said of her work:

Sometimes life leaves me speechless. When I fail to find the words, I try to find an image that can speak in my silence. My drawings have been inspired by everything from the deaths of people close to me, anxiety, and my own broken heart–to seeing an old bird cage or having a bad work day. I turned to art, because my parents raised me off grid in the Mount Hood Wilderness, and there wasn’t anything better to do. At the time, I was just sad that I didn’t have friends. Now, it’s a way of life.comics1comics2comics3comics4comics5comics6comics7comics8

A Great Syllabus

English 3150 Graphic Novel Workshop

Always bring this syllabus with you

Instructor:       Theresa Williams

Email:     (Also on Facebook)


Office:             419 East Hall

Office Hrs:      Wednesdays 2:30-4:00


  1. This is not a class about the comics industry. It’s a class about how to be an independent comics artist. Comics in this class are to be hand-drawn and hand-lettered, not done on a computer. The only exception is the final project, which may be hand drawn or done on a computer. Work done on a computer must be printed out.
  2. I will scan a few of your completed assignments and post them to the blog, Theresa Williams’s Comics Lab. YOU WILL NEED TO DECIDE IF YOU WANT TO USE YOUR REAL NAME OR A PEN-NAME.
  • Alternative comics, Independent comics, or Indie comics: American comics that have appeared since the 1980s. They followed the underground comix movement of the 1960s-70s. They are an alternative to mainstream comics which have dominated the American comic book industry, offering a wide range of genres, styles, and subjects. In Alternative/Indie comics, more emphasis is placed on the individuality of the artist’s style and experiences and storytelling. Stories tend to be subtler and more complex than Industry-driven or underground comics. Publishers of alternative comics include: Drawn & Quarterly, Fantagraphics, and Last Gasp.


  • Syllabus, Lynda Barry
  • Drawn & Quarterly: Twenty-five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels, Tom Devlin, Ed.

SUPPLEMENTAL TEXTS : Comics are expensive. Therefore, four times during the semester, I will bring in a collection of my own comics for you to read. You will be required to fill out a form to answer questions about each text. Each form is worth five points.


This course provides students with a means for creative self-discovery and the exploration of complex ideas. Students will record their observations, experiences, and memories in a composition book and then translate this material into various pictographic narratives of varying lengths. We will explore the rhythms of storytelling, practice the formal elements of comics, and compose comics pages using this iconic visual language, all the while experimenting with a variety of tools, media, and approaches.


  1. To provide students with a means for creative self-discovery and the exploration of complex ideas.
  2. To work toward an individual vision and style.
  3. To learn strategies for visual and textual analysis.


By the end of the course, students will have demonstrated basic illustration techniques. They will have:

  1. Explored their own personal style of storytelling
  2. Created a series of pages of sequential narrative (minimum of 30 panels)
  3. Told stories, clearly and in an effective manner using both words and pictures
  4. Written observations of 4 graphic novels (on reserve)


  1. Students will fill one composition book (100 PAGES, FRONT AND BACK) with thoughts, observations, class work, and preliminary studies for class assignments. If one book is completely filled, students will start another.
  2. Students will spend class time reading, discussing, and/or practicing writing and drawing techniques.
  3. Students will fill out four forms on graphic novels supplied in class.
  4. Students will do a final project consisting of at least 30 panels on Fanboy paper.
  5. At the beginning of each class, students will produce one 2-minute self-portrait on an index card.


  1. Students should not miss more than 3 classes. Each class absence past 3 will cost students five points from their attendance grade.
  2. All creative work should show a good faith effort. Work that is shoddily constructed, not well thought out, or late will receive a deduction of points.
  3. Students must work with required course materials, special pens and papers.
  4. Students’ papers must be focused, organized, perceptive, and free of errors.


Art Supply Depo in Bowling Green
435 East Wooster Street
Bowling Green, Ohio 43402
(419) 352-9501

Open every day:
10:00am – 7:00pm  |  Monday – Thursday
10:00am – 6:00pm  |  Friday + Saturday
12:00pm – 5:00pm  |  Sunday



*Pack of blank 3 x 5 notecards (for self-portraits)

*Plain white typing paper (for some classwork)

* Bristol Board (9 x 12)

*A cheapo composition book

**Fanboy comic book art boards, 11 x 17*

*Always bring note cards, typing paper, appropriate text, and the composition book you are currently working on with you to class.

**Final project must be done on Fanboy paper, unless it is done on computer and then printed out. There will be homework and class assignments requiring the Fanboy paper, also.

Ink, Pencil, Eraser, and Color

  • Acid Free, Permanent, Waterproof Ink Markers:  Micron Pens, black, size 08, 05, 03, and one with a chisel tip and one with a brush tip. NO SHARPIES!
  • Non-Photo blue pencil
  • 6H drawing pencil
  • Polymer Eraser
  • Watercolor pencils (24 pack).
  • Small inexpensive brushes, one flat, one round.


  • Rubber Cement
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • 4- Inch brayer
  • Magazines (for collage work)
  • Clear ruler (at least 15 inch)
  • Tote for carrying supplies
  • Accordion folder for class work and homework.

 *always bring your accordion folder and its contents to class.


As with any university-level creative writing class, I expect you to avoid any type of hackneyed story with predetermined elements in predictable combinations.


Attendance/participation:       20-points

*4 short papers (forms)           20-points (5-points each)

*Homework                            30-points

**Final project                        20-points

Final Exam                              10-points

*Deduction of 2 1/2 points per day for late work.

**Deduction of 10 points for late final project.


Attendance is very important. This is a hands-on class. We will be doing lots of creative work, both writing and drawing, in class. You are required to make up any work that you miss. Participation means that you will put all of your electronic devices away (unless you are using them to view the blog) and work diligently on assignments in class.


You will produce a number of short creative pieces for homework. They must be turned in on time. Some homework assignments will be scanned and posted at the Comics Lab. You must save ALL creative work and all handouts. Place the 8 ½ x 11 size homework and handouts in your accordion folder. You will need to present your folder to me on the last day of the semester. It will be returned to you on final exam day. Put your name (and pen-name if you are using one) each homework assignment.


You must fill up one 100 page composition book with class assignments, obsessions, and explorations. Use both sides of the paper. You should work in your composition booksevery day, filling it with research, drafts, and ideas. If you fill up one composition book, begin another.


Students will make progress toward completion of a graphic novel. Unless you create your final project on a computer, it must be done on Fanboy paper.  At least 30 completed panels (of any size) are required. The sequence presented should have a beginning, middle, and end. It should be able to stand on its own.  For your final project you may:

1) Do a series of Autobiographical strips

2) Do a series of Haiku strips

3) Do a scene from a fairytale or myth (or the whole fairytale or myth)

4) Create your own story


The exam will be open-book and open-note. You WILL need to bring BOTH texts with you. Your accordion will be returned on that day, so you will be able to use your handouts and composition books as well. You may only use your own books and notes. You may do the exam on your laptop or in a bluebook (handwritten).


Cartooning:                 the process of creating words and pictures as an art form

*Cartoons:                   the things a cartoonist creates

*Comics:                     a language/art form using any combination of words and pictures

Strip:                           a short sequence of panels in any configuration

Graphic Novel:           a physical object (a book containing comics)

*You have probably noticed that “cartoons” and “comics” are often used as pejorative terms. We won’t be doing that. As with any art form, there are good and bad examples of cartoons/comics.

Discussion Schedule

On April 8, 12, and 14 we are discussing the following works from D & Q

April 7:

  • Eli F.: “Song of Myself” (373). There is a short bio about Bob Sikoryak on pages 378-379.
  • Tiffany Burns: Deforge. Read pages 55-57 and  719. “Development Hell” p. 72-724
  • Suzanne Anderson: Adrain Tomine page 298-317

April 12:

  • Patrick, Sally,  Courtney: Kate Beaton, pages 58, 59, 590-603 Sherrel: The Goreys, p. 598, Chanler, Jane Eyre p.602
  • Tryna: Peggy Burns, 81-85
  • Sarah Elfers and Cydney: Chester Brown, pages 116-146
  • Sketch Ride: Sof ‘Boy, pages 217+
  • Zach: Art Spiegelman, pages 687+

April 14:

  • Gretchen: Tove Jansson: pages 543-559
  • Sophia: John Stanley, pages 278+
  • Clayton: ?

2016: Assignment #9

dqDue March 24

  1. On Thursday bring both texts: What It Is and the D & Q Anthology. We will be doing an exercise from What It Is and you will get reading assignments from the Anthology.

Due March 31 (Reminders)

  1. A 4 panel diary/memoir strip.
  2. Your third paper on one of the books on reserve is due on March 31. The last paper is due on or before April 21.
  3. Remember that you must fill up two 100-page composition books by the end of the semester. You should include them in your accordion folder (portfolio).
  4. You should be starting your final project soon. Remember that it must be done on Fanboy paper and that you’ll present your project to us sometime during the final two weeks of class. If you’ve changed your mind about your final project since you first talked to me, please let me know what your new idea is.
  5. Finish reading What It Is. Bring it to class.
  6. Read “Optic Nerve” (313) in the D & Q Anthology. On white paper, create a superhero. Bring your books to class. Bring your fairytale to class.

2016: Assignment #8



Artwork by Sherrel, class of 2016

Due: March 3

  1. One four-panel diary/memoir strip
  2. Your second paper on one of the graphic novels on reserve.
  3. By March 1 you should have turned in all unfinished work, the “realistic” rendering, your “planet” story, and your “Man-Moth” story. Also, all diary/memoir strips to date. After Spring Break, the homework will be much heavier again. If you’re not caught up by this point, you may never be.

ON RESERVE (choose 4 to read and write about)

  • One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry
  • Goliath by Tom Gauld
  • Kafka by Robert Crumb
  • Clumsy by Jeffrey Brown
  • Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
  • The Crow by James O’Barr
  • American Splendor by Harvey Pekar
  • Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
  • American Elf 2 by James Kochalka
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  • Incidents in the Night by David B.



Attendance/participation:  20-points

*4 short papers :    20-points (5-points each)

*Homework:  30-points

**Final project: 20-points

Final Exam:  10-points

*Deduction of 2 1/2 points per day for late work.

**Deduction of 10 points for late final project.

2016: Assignment #7


Due February 25

  1. A new four-panel diary/memoir strip.

“Notice most story structure components are in 3 or 5 sections, Beginning, Middle, End (Aristotle)  or exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, revelation/catastrophe (Freytag).  But Comics somehow fit comfortably in 4 panels. There seems to be a need for an extra beat–maybe something like a no-action action–a pause. Practicing drawing things in fours is a good way to understand how this works.” Lynda Barry, Syllabus (124)

Barry suggests that you avoid strips about being tired or bored. It’s easy to fall into the habit of making these strips because we’re all tired and bored and this will get repetitive. Instead, try to surprise, to lead a reader to an insight. I think her suggestion is a good one.

2. (From an earlier assignment) Read What It Is by Lynda Barry, pages 1-54. From now on bring What It Is with you to class.

3. (New) Read What It Is by Lynda Barry, pages 55-74.

4. Bring a copy of a Fairytale. The tale can be in a book or printed from the Internet.


–It MUST be either an Anderson Fairytale or a Grimm Fairytale.

–You MUST choose a tale that’s not very well-known.


children's creatures 5

Your “realistic” rendering of one of your primitive images is due. Size and media are up to you.

By this date, please also turn in your “planet” story and your “Man-Moth” story.


  • Don’t forget that you will need all three of your textbooks for the final exam: Syllabus, What It Is, AND The D & Q Anthology. You must have your own copies of these books to do the exam.
  • Don’t forget that Matt Groening and Lynda Barry will be at the Stranahan in Toledo on Friday May 20.