Thursday, August 11, 2016

Comix Class is IN SESSION!

Our dear confrère Ben Montag is helping me devise a class for making comics. He mailed me a fat packet of Kubert School lessons and learnedness. This pic is a shout-out to Ben.

I talked to Jimmy the other day and he (like most of us, I'll wager) was grousing about motivation, lack of productivity, want of a project that fires his loins, etc., and I said, "How 'bout I post my comics class assignments and lecture notes and you make like a student AND DO YR DAMN HOMEO-WORK!" Which piqued his interest. I even thought I could post said materials here on our group site for the amusement of all.

So I ask you guys--would you like me to make this wondrous TAG blog a part of my process in building this class? I would find your feedback immensely helpful--I don't really put myself forward as an expert on comic books and their creation, so I could use some advice--you all have a lot more expertise than I do.

Class starts in two weeks (egad!)--even as I type this, I'm putting together my course outline and first lecture.

I'll take page (literals) from Marie Severin....

Materials and required reading discussion in the comments section...


Davis Chino said...

First things first, materials: the class is built around the need to present finished work that is inked; doesn't have to be black ink, per se, but I want to teach the basics of planning a page, penciling, and then inking over those pencils for the purpose of clear reproduction. I am NOT limiting the class to the classic format of superhero books--I think experimentation with any sort of subject matter is great. Horror, sci-fi/fantasy, Manga, "indie" or personal memoir are all welcome. But they need to be inked.

(Note I've skipped color--I want to keep away from that until the end of the class--just complicates stuff when you're trying to learn--or work fast!)

So materials:
paper (bristol of the classic 13" x 19" variety is best, but I also like this 80lb. cover stock from Kelly Paper that's 11"x 17"--it's almost as good was bristol and you can get 250 sheets for $35. Nice to not feel so precious about it.
pencils: Whatever you like, but good to try a Col-Erase blue for pencils that you will be inking.
ink: I will ask everyone to get a proper sable brush (I'm not finicky about size--I like a 2 but most people prefer smaller), but I want people to get some brush pens, too--the big squeezable Pentel type (in black, but try the sepia as well!), and the Kuretake #14, too. And some felt-tip finalizer type pens, too--I like these new TOUCH liners from ShinHan (Korea) that we found at ComicCon. I use them for borders, lettering, etc. I got a .5 and .8 (which feels pretty thick).

Davis Chino said...

The prof. who taught this class before me required these three books:
1. Scott McCloud, "Understanding Comics"
2. Abel, Jessica & Matt Madden. Drawing Words and Writing Pictures.
3. Kurtz, Scott & al. How to Make Webcomics.
on story:
4. Robert McKee, "Story"
5. Christopher Vogler, "Using Myth to Power Your Story"

The Scott McCloud book has really impressed me--rolled my eyes at first and thought it was going to be self-indulgent and twee, but it has some very perceptive material--really thought-provoking. Very thorough about explaining his insights, and very clear. Nice diagrammatic ways to approach problems. A big thumbs up!

The similarly twee-sounding "Drawing Words & Writing Pictures" is less inspiring, and makes McCloud's achievement stand out that much more. It's structured specifically to be a text book, but I'm not crazy about a lot of the assignments. Still, not utterly worthless.

Haven't found the webcomic book yet.

Haven't found the Vogler book on using myth to power your story (in general all that Joseph Campell shit gives me a pain--probably 'cuz I've heard it so often from so many people who've never written anything that I've enjoyed...on the other hand, Tom Moon believes in the utility of this stuff, AND HIS STORIES KICK ALL KINDS OF ASS. Thank you, Tom.)

And speaking of Tom, the vaunted McKee "STORY" book is one he's tried to get me to read for years--and I must say it is good so far. But the focus on the Hollywood aspect is a bit distracting for this class. I'm not sure how I will use these "story" specific resources in the class. It's important--important as hell--but so easy to get mired in it all. We're not going to be going that deep.

OF POSSIBLE INTEREST: as an amusing Hollywood sidenote, Brian Michael Bendis (a name I know but who's work never registers) wrote a slim graphic novel on his experience with Hollywood--it was quite fun if you like that sort of thing, but a bit dated (deal mainly with the period around when Scream was being made, before the current COMICS ÜBER ALLES state of the film industry). I forget the title, but Ellis will find it if he doesn't know it already. Spotted on the CSUF library shelves.

MrGoodson2 said...

The Bendis book Words for Pictures is one I have . You'd like that. Look up an explanation of the content.

"how to make comics the charlton way" simple primer for comics making

MrGoodson2 said...

The McCloud book is great. Good to go back through that once in ahile.

Tom Moon said...

First: Great caricature of Ben!

Second: Yes Marty! Please post all your comic book lessons to TAG!

Third: Glad you like the McKee book so far Marty. It's true that most of the examples he uses have to do with the movies. In fact, the full title of the book is "Story - Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting".

But what impressed me most about the book, as compared to other books about screenwriting, is that he frequently goes beyond the example of screenwriting per se and talks about the "essence" of story.

You don't even have to be a "writer" to be a "storyteller". Stories are found everywhere. In movies, novels, comics, songs, dance, jokes and limericks, and around every office water cooler in the form of personal life anecdotes.

All the same basic elements are there: protagonist, antagonist, plot, theme, inciting incident, turning points, reveals, crises, climaxes, resolution. I think it's the most thorough analysis ever to answer the question, "What, actually, IS a story, and why do we need stories as humans?"

Here are some of the more insightful quotes from the book:

“Story is not only our most prolific art form but rivals all activities–work, play, eating, exercise–for our waking hours. We tell and take stories as much as we sleep–and even then we dream. Why? Why is so much of our life spent inside stories? Because as Kenneth Burke tells us, stories are equipment for living.”

“Our appetite for story is a reflection of the profound human need to grasp the pattern of living, not merely as an intellectual exercise, but within a very personal, emotional experience.”

“Story is a metaphor for life.”

Tom Moon said...

Another set of lectures that I think is excellent and is right up the alley of what you are looking for Marty: Jim Shooter's "How to Write Comics" series of articles, and the "$1.98 Storytelling Lecture".

Davis Chino said...

Dudes! Awesome! Tom, I thought those quotes were money, too. I want to use that big concept of "story" to kick off the class--it will set out our meta-concern and aim the class toward that goal of "making sense of life" without getting too fussy.

I will post notes from my first lecture up here, too...please feel free to chime in--I need the help!

Tom Moon said...

Ellis, when I went to the "Make-Comics-the-Charlton-Way" web site and attempted to download the book, my computer was infected with Chromium Ad Malware. Took me a while to get rid of it. Did that happen to anyone else?

Davis Chino said...

Tommy, I am slow to click and haven't downloaded the Charlton book (thank you for the link, Ellis--even if it should turn out to be a portal for Romanian hackers). Thanks for the heads up.

I DID go to that Jim Shooter site. Very interesting stuff! I read almost everything. Some great insights that I'll have to incorporate. Many thanks for the tip!

It's been one of those days spent trying to clean up my desk/work table/drawing board. I've barely made it thru two drawers and it's 10:00 PM already....

BDMontag said...

I am honored. I didn't get where I am today by learning from others, but am interested in seeing your lessons here on TAG. I never got past self-indulgent and twee. I even described it as self-indulgent to someone once. Twee ain't my kind of vocabulation.

I have How to Make WEBCOMICS by Brad Guigar Dave Kellet, Scott Kurtz and Kris Straub. Just found it behind some other things on my bookshelf. Copyright 2008. I know I read it once. Has technique for drawing and writing and then stuff about photoshop and resolution and other digital info. I'll email you the table of contents and you tell me whether you want me to send it to you.

BDMontag said...

Published by Image

BDMontag said...

Are crow quills passé?

MrGoodson2 said...

Tom, I had a weird glitch thing happen to my computer the other day. I don't know if it had anything to do with that site. I had my computer constantly using the dictation program using 800 meg of memory.

Stay off that site on the odd chance it is infectious.

It might be something Sherm Cohen is taking as his pound of flesh for the PDF, I don't know. I'll put the PDF on my web bandwidth. I'll tell you after I've placed it.

MrGoodson2 said...

Here you go guys. As far as I know this is just a PDF

MrGoodson2 said...

I Just now read your post closely enough to pull out the question of whether we want to follow along in class. I definitely want to see what you hand out as materials and assignments. I might do a couple. Earlier I read the comments close enough to see you wanted input on your lesson materials and that's what I responded with.