Intro to Writing Comic Books & Graphic Novels with Bree Ogden and Sterling Gates

A six-week workshop on the craft and business of writing comic books and graphic novels, led by literary agent Bree Ogden and professional comic book writer Sterling Gates.

Your Instructor: Bree Ogden (agent at D4EO Literary Agency) and Sterling Gates (professional comic book writer)

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: This class is not currently enrolling. To be notified when it is offered again, Click Here

Enrollment: 15 students

Price: $475

Class Description

Taken simply, a graphic novel or a comic book is a fictional story, told with pictures, arranged in a sequential order.

The reality is that they are so much more than that. They can tell stories in a way that no other medium can. 

Comic books and graphic novels aren't subject to budget restrictions. They can be light and fun, or they can be deep and affecting. They open up exciting new avenues for telling a story. And their versatility is amazing. 

Superman tells the story of the immigrant dream and the ideals we strive toward.  

Maus tells the story of a Holocaust survivor, utilizing an all-animal cast that conveys a great deal about humanity.

Persepolis tells the story of a woman growing up in Iran, crafted so you can't help but relate. 

The Walking Dead tells the story of the evolution of society when faced with great tragedy. 

Lobo vs. Santa Claus tells the story of... Lobo fighting Santa Claus.  

The point is, when you mix art and prose, the storytelling possibilities are endless.

But writing comic books isn't as simple as sitting down and coming up with a story. There's a lot to take into account, from pacing, to communicating with your artist, to dialogue bubbles. On top of that, there's the question of how you even get your foot in the industry's door. 

So we've recruited a crackerjack team to lead you through the process. Welcome to Intro to Writing Comic Books & Graphic Novels.

Bree Ogden is a literary agent at D4EO Literary Agency, where she specializes in graphic novels. She's also the Editorial Director and Magazine Curator for Underneath the Juniper Tree, a macabre children's magazine that mixes art and prose. 

Sterling Gates is a professional comic book writer, having written for titles like Green Lantern Corps, World's Finest, Action Comics, Adventure Comics, Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost, and the New 52's Hawk & Dove—but he's best known for his critically-acclaimed run on Supergirl.

This six-week course will lead you through the mechanics of a good script, all the way through the nuts and bolts of the industry. Bree and Sterling will be on hand to answer your burning questions and guide you through the process. 

By the time you finish this class, you'll be ready to forge ahead with your idea, you'll have a better understanding of how to make those ideas into reality—and you'll have your very own 22-page script that's been workshopped by Bree, Sterling, and your fellow classmates. 

What This Class Covers

First Lecture and Assignment – Deconstructing the Graphic Novel

In order to competently accomplish any task, you must first understand the personality and character of said task. We’ll discuss every detail of comics and graphic novels, breaking down sequential art by converting a comic book into prose.

Bonus Lecture – Writing for an Artist

As a graphic novelist or comic book writer, conveying your written ideas to a visual artist is the most important thing in the process. We’ll learn terminology and explore useful tactics to speak artists’ language, as well as how to structure a page.

Second Lecture and Assignment – Page One, Panel One: Scripting Your Graphic Novel

There are many rules for writing comic and graphic novel scripts. Just as a contractor must follow blueprints to build a sturdy house, a graphic novelist must follow very specific guidelines while scripting out their story. We will learn these rules then play around with scripting out a short story—turning prose into a comic script.

Bonus Lecture – Script Structures and Speech Bubbles

Here we’ll examine a variety of comic scripting styles and evaluate what each type has to offer a writer and an artist. We’ll also examine speech bubbles, sound effects, and captions, and discuss how important they are when conveying information to the reader.

Third Lecture and Assignment – Character Building

What makes an interesting character? How can you take the simplest of archetypes and turn them into characters your readers will love and care for (or totally hate)?

Bonus Lecture – Character Arcs

What is a “character arc” and why are they so important to telling your story?

Fourth Lecture and Assignment – Steps to Creating an Original Graphic Novel

The time is now. You’ve learned how to script out a graphic novel or comic book, and how to convey your ideas to an artist; it’s time to start writing one of your own. But first you’ll want to take one baby step at a time—and we’ll be there to hold your hand. This is the big one, where all our discussion about plot, story structures, characters and more will help you begin your script. The end goal? Walking away from this class with a 22-page comic script…and the motivation to write more.

Bonus Lecture – The Three Acts of a Story

Every story needs a beginning, middle, and end. But what’s the best way to accomplish this? The tried and true “three-act structure”! We’ll talk about what needs to happen in each “act” and use that knowledge to analyze a variety of different media.

Fifth Lecture and Assignment – Publication

Publication in the world of comics and graphic novels is slightly different than publication in the world of novels. Bree will use her literary agent skills to walk you through the proper steps for finding the right agent, deciding what path is best for your graphic novel, and which publishing houses and imprints are right for you.

Goals Of This Class

  • Become an expert on the graphic novel art form.
  • Learn the basics of scripting a graphic novel like a pro.
  • Learn how to implement correct speech bubbles, sound effects, dialogue, etc.
  • Understand and define your graphic novel’s genre.
  • Discover how to convey your vision to an illustrator... even though it seems like a foreign language when starting out.
  • Learn how to script a graphic novel with the help of lectures and feedback.
  • Walk away with a 22-page graphic novel or comic book script, and knowledge of the publication process.
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