Syllabus: 15-week DWWP class

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August 27, 2010

DWWP is a 15-chapter book designed to accompany a typical university-level studio art class meeting three hours a week. However, if you are actually teaching a class like that, you will quickly realize that our book is quite generously overstuffed and there is almost no way you can touch on every single item in the book in the classroom. What follows is simply a suggestion of one way you could narrow down the focus of your class and use class time most efficiently. As a rule, you won’t have time for any of the “extra-credit” assignments; however, we are so fond of a few of them that we recommend trying to fit them in!

Depending on your personal interests, you may want to weight the class in one direction or another with additional drawing assignments, for example, especially if you teach a six-hour/15-week studio version of this class.

For notes and tips on teaching specific lessons, see the chapter guide.

Click here for an editable syllabus format of this lesson plan.

Week 1: Building Blocks

Lecture/discussion: 1.1 Know ’em when you see ’em

Review: 1.2 Comics terminology
Activity: Drawing time
Activity: Directed jam comic


Drawing in action
read 2.1
Optional: “Extra extra” credit revised jam comic (“editing” or “phoenix” assignment)

Week 2: Every Picture Tells a Story

Critique: Drawing in action
Lecture/discussion: 2.1 Word and image
Optional Activity: Sum of its parts extra credit assignment
Activity: Gag reflex


Gag me
Read 3.1, 3.2
Download & read “How to read Nancy”

Week 3: The Strip Club

Critique: Gag me
Lecture/discussion: 3.1 A comic a day
Activity: The wrong planet
Review: 3.2 Thumbnails

Homework: Strip it down

Read 4.1
Read Understanding Comics, chapter 3

Week 4: Bridging the Gap

Critique: Strip it Down
Lecture/discussion: 4.1 Reading between the lines
Activity: Comic jumble and/or Five-card Nancy [we highly recommend this activity, but you need to make your own Nancy cards to do it]


Closure comics
Read 5.1
Read 5.2 (optional)

Week 5: Penciling

Critique: Closure comics
Lecture/demo: 5.1 Penciling comics
Activity: Pencil one panel three different ways
Optional Review/Lecture/demo: 5.2 Figuring out the figure 1: sticking to the basics

This would be a good spot for in-class figure drawing, if you plan to do any.


Read 6.1, 6.2
Extra Credit: Practice drawing figurettes (optional)

Week 6: Getting on the Same Page

Critique: Penciling
Lecture/discussion: 6.1 Elbow room
Lecture/demo: 6.2 Laying out pages, tiers, and panels
Activity: Lay out your live area


“A month of Sundays” thumbnails
7.1, 7.2
Extra credit: Comic book book report: Sunday page

Week 7: Lettering

Critique: “A month of Sundays” thumbnails

Lecture/demo: 7.1 Hand lettering
Activity: Make lettering guidelines and practice lettering
Activity: “A comic with no pictures”
Field trip: Class visit to copy center this class or next


“A month of Sundays” penciling and lettering
Read 8.1
Read 8.2

Week 8: Inking the Deal

Critique: “A month of Sundays” penciling and lettering
Critique: A comic with no pictures (original and reduced photocopy)
Lecture/demo: 8.1 Inking with a nib pen
Activity: Practice using a nib (using ideas from 8.1)
Activity: Ink your own drawings with a nib OR (Extra credit) Line for line
Lecture/demo: 8.2 Making corrections
Activity: Begin “A month of Sundays” inking


“A month of Sundays” inking
Read 9.1, 9.2
Additional readings related to narrative arc structure: Aristotle, McKee, or other

Week 9: Structuring Story

Critique: “A month of Sundays” inking
Lecture/discussion: 9.1 The narrative arc & 9.2 The elements of a narrative arc
Activity: Analyze this (using “The Crush” or other short comics)
Activity: TV writer make-believe


Thumbnails for a six-page story with a narrative arc
Read 10.1

Week 10: Getting Into Character

Critique: Thumbnails for a six-page story with a narrative arc
Lecture/Lecture/demo: 10.1 Developing your character
Activity: Play your cards right


Character pin-ups for your short story
Finish short story thumbs
Read 11.1, 11.2

Week 11: Setting the Stage

Critique: Character pin-ups for your short story
Critique: Short story thumbs
Lecture/discussion: 11.1 Panel design
Activity: Rethinking composition
Lecture/demo: 11.2 Titles
Activity: Plan, lay out, and ink a title design for six-page comic (optional for in-class)


Revise six-page story thumbs and start penciling
Read 12.1
Read 12.2 (optional)

Week 12: Constructing a World

Informal Critique: Title designs, pencils in progress
Lecture/discussion: 12.1 Creating a sense of place
Activity: No time like the present
Activity: Work on six-page comic in class
Activity: The head’s in your hands (optional)


Continue penciling your six-page story
Read 13.1, 13.2, 13.3

Week 13: Black Gold

Critique: Pencils of six-page story
Lecture/demo: 13.1 The liquid line & 13.2 Softening the black
Activity: Practice using a brush (using ideas from 13.1, 13.2, and 13.3)
Activity: Ink a panel in brush


Finish pencils of six-page story and begin inking
Line for line II (optional)
Read 14.1, 14.2

Week 14: Comics in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Critique: Inks-in-progress of six-page story
Lecture/Lecture/demo: 14.1 Producing reproductions
Lecture/demo: 14.2 Olde-styley tools again
Activity: Try the proportion wheel
Activity: Work on six-page comic in class


Finish inking, make corrections, and reproduce six-page comic
Make a minicomic of your work from class (optional)
Read 15.1

Week 15: 24-hour Comic

Critique/collect/trade: Finished six-page comics
Activity: 3-hour comic
Activity: Class party


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