Hello and welcome to the blogsite for Making Comics at U Penn.
This coming Spring semester my colleague Jean-Christophe Cloutier and I will be offering what we believe is a unique course in both the analytical and practical sides of comic-making here at Penn. The language of comics (or graphic novels, if that’s what you prefer to call them) is a fairly specialized, rarefied and some might even say arcane discipline; for an art form that has flourished in popular culture alongside the growth of modernism and the development of cinema, it has remained largely untaught and understudied for the first hundred years of its thriving, challenging, and really rather unpretentious history. But comics have an exciting ability to render the dreams and fantasies of individual creators into stories celebrating personal vision. Much like the “three chords and the truth” idiom that governs other great American art forms like jazz and rock-n-roll, comics presents one of the cleanest, most direct routes for storytellers to put their narrative forward through the mesmerizing connection of words and images. As we move into a world of much more visually-based writing through media like television, cinema, gaming, and even online learning, it seems important for young writers (and readers!) to take a good long look at the language of comics and its methodology. It is our belief that it will help to inform their work in these contemporary industries as well as nurture their potential for individual expression.
But this experimental course is new for us as well! While we’ve mined some of the great work done by others who’ve come before us in teaching the art of comics in framing this course, we’re hoping to learn a lot from this first offering. We’re hoping for your feedback.
We’ll be doing quite a lot of playing with this site in the coming month or so as we plunge toward our kick-off of the class, beginning with the 24Hour Comic Jam here at Penn on October 4th-5th and leading right up through the course. All of the feedback we get to hear will help inform us regarding what people might be looking for in not only the course we’ve designed, but also in the collaborative potential of comic-making.
So thanks for joining us and, please, let us know what you think!
– Robert Berry