In my previous post, I explained I would be creating a syllabus in comic format for my graphic novels course this summer, primarily inspired by Austin Kleon’s mention of Lynda Barry’s forthcoming Syllabus and because I would be having them draw comics as well.
Yesterday, I completed the project, and here is a photo of all of the elements I used in the process of creating this syllabus spread out on the table in my office.
At top are the four books we’ll be reading in the course: Watchmen, Understanding Comics, Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth, and Palestine. Top left is a draft of the syllabus in text format, and at top on the right is the extra large Moleskine notebook I used for drawing the comic pages. On top of the notebook is the comic page template for laying out the different pages, and these pages are spread out there below the four books. After drawing each page with my trusty Pilot G-2 07, I scanned the page into Photoshop, cleaned things up a bit, and used the paint bucket tool for simple coloring. In the center of the photo is the 12 page 5.5 X 8.5 inch comic syllabus booklet I will give to my students June 2.
Here are the pages in color, starting with the cover.
I wanted to create a version of myself as narrator to include in the comic, so I chose something simple, given my rudimentary drawing skills. This idea of the continual presence of a narrator primarily comes from Scott McCloud’s presentation of himself in Understanding Comics, but also from Lynda Barry’s work in One Hundred Demons and What It is.
OK. Speech balloons or narrative boxes? I couldn’t really decide. So a mix along the way.
Part of the challenge of drawing this comic was adhering to university and State of Texas guidelines about what course syllabi must include, such as outcomes and assessments above.
Another challenge was to include visual information without over-explaining or being too dependent upon text, such as the bottom image above which describes the process of incorporating hand drawn responses in the life of the classroom.
In the image above, I wanted to give students a quick sense of the arc of this short summer session of about 5 weeks and where the major reading assignments and projects would fall.
And here is the second page of the inside spread. It’s another requirement of course syllabi that each day’s topic or assignment be designated, so I tried to create a coding system and schedule that would augment or expand upon the previous page.
This above is my favorite page.
I use contract grading in all of my classes now. A fuller visual explanation of the minimum requirements for handmade responses and comics will take place in class.
And above is a little more business again required of all syllabi, but still useful information.
And finally, the back cover showing the 21 formats for handmade thinking that students can easily refer to. They will be drawing two handmade responses for each class based on these simple visual templates. More on handmade thinking here.
So there you have it, a pretty simple little comic that will serve as the visual syllabus for the class, but also demonstrate, I hope, how simple my students’ comics can be for the course, a course–by the way–for English majors and minors, and other students interested in visual storytelling.