The blogsite for Making Comics at U Penn (ENG122.301) and its related event “The Penn 24Hour Comic Jam”.

This course will expose students to the unique language of visual storytelling popularly referred to as “comics” or “graphic novels.” In essence, it will be a creative writing workshop in the inexhaustible art of making comics aimed at beginners and enthusiasts alike. Students will be exposed to a brief history of how this art has developed and to some of its many forms and genres. Through practical homework and lab assignments they will develop an understanding of how text and sequential images create a different kind of reading experience and storytelling. Over the course of the semester, students will work together by taking on a variety of roles in the making of comics, read groundbreaking comics theory and criticism, analyze now-classic and experimental comics, adapt a variety of prose & verse genres into comics, and ultimately create a long-form collaborative “graphic novel.”
Although this is not intended as a course in drawing, all students will be expected to explore storytelling through the combination of words and cartoons (yes, stick figures are fine!). Working in this method creates a unique and hands-on understanding of the creative process in comics. In-class reviews and group critiques will give students direct insight into how certain choices of composition affect the storytelling process. During the first half of the semester, the course will rigorously combine theory and practice, navigating through a slew of different genres (e.g. poem, short story, novel, journalism, film) and how these can be transmogrified into comics form. The second half will be dedicated to the production of a longer comic project.

Instructors for this course in the Spring semester will be;


Jean-Christophe Cloutier is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. A few years ago, he established the “Comics as Literature” summer course at Columbia University, in New York, where it is still taught every year. At Penn, Cloutier regularly teaches contemporary American literature & film and continues to teach comics as literature. He hopes that the new pilot course he is co-teaching with cartoonist extraordinaire Rob Berry will be the first step toward expanding Penn’s involvement with the broader comics community in the Philadelphia area. Cloutier has also published comics reviews for Public Books and the Critical Survey of Graphic Novels: Heroes & Superheroes. Other scholarly interests involve archival theory and practice, aging & technology, translation & diaspora studies.

Avatar-webRobert Berry is the cartoonist and originator of “Ulysses ‘seen'”, a tablet-based graphic novel adaptation of James Joyce’s “Ulysses”. His work in the development of that project led to the creation of a unique platform for educational comics and the establishing of his own digital publishing company, THROWAWAY HORSE, where he serves as editor and artistic director on similar comic-to-learning adaptations of “The Waste Land” and “The Age of Bronze”.

Trained as a painter at Detroit’s Wayne State University he began making comics in 2005 and has worked for DC Comics as well as Seven Stories in their “Graphic Canon” editions. His illustrations for James Joyce’s “The Dead” were published in 2014 by Stoney Road Press and the James Joyce Centre in Dublin. His work has been seen in numerous group and solo exhibitions  in Detroit, Chicago, New York, Dublin, Heidelberg  and Trieste.


For information on “The Penn 24Hour Comic Jam” that we will be hosting on october 4th and 5th as an introduction to the collaborative environment of comic-making, please join us on this part of the website.


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