Alas, this is the final week of Writing and Drawing Comics with Summer Pierre! It’s been one helluva journey – both eye-opening and enjoyable. Here are some of the things that I’ve learned over the past 5 weeks:
Trust your line. That means no erasers! This was very hard at first but as time went on I felt a great sense of freedom. Timed exercises really helped with getting into the flow. No one expects you to be Michelangelo in 60 seconds, right? In a weird way, the time pressure actually takes the pressure off. I found that when I wasn’t concerned about “getting it right”, I had a lot more fun and was freer with my imagination. Characters and situations appeared on the page that probably wouldn’t have if I had longer to think about it.
Characters determine the story. I never really understood this concept when I was writing prose fiction. The story idea would always come to me first. Somehow, with comics, I was able to get a glimpse of what this means. Summer encouraged us to let the characters emerge and tell us what their stories are rather than imposing stories upon them. Again, timed exercises were essential in making this leap. Without a moment to think, all sorts of characters appeared. Who thought I’d be writing about How to be an insurance salesman or the adventures of Tony the taxidermist?
Words are part of the picture. I ended up doing my final project twice. The first time around, I used my iPad to add digital text to my drawings. I thought I was finished, but then Summer encouraged me to write out the text by hand. It meant I had to literally go “back to the drawing board”. I rewrote the text and redrew the pictures. And I’m so glad I did. The final comic feels more alive, rougher (in a good way), and more me.
I’m sad that this wonderful course is coming to an end. It’s been great travelling alongside other companions who also love making comics. And wonderful to have such an inspiring and encouraging teacher, leading us on all sorts of new adventures in the realms of comic-making. There is a new course starting in April and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who wants to go on an inspirational comic-making adventure. I’m hoping there will be a part II somewhere in the not too distant future!
In the meantime, it’s official: comics and me. We’re in love.