Here’s a simple and novel approach to making minicomics (self-published, handmade comics) that we recently adapted into a classroom activity for our sophomore Storytelling class at SVA. I’m also considering using it in my upcoming Obstacle Course workshop at MoCCA.
The Five-Page Folded Minicomic (AKA foldy), as developed and promoted by cartoonist Kenan Rubenstein, is a one-person affair that could easily (more-or-less) be assigned and finished in a three-hour or more class period. The idea is that you fold a single sheet of paper four times so that you end up with a little booklet of 2 1/8″ x 2 3/4″. The smallest size is your cover. When you open it, it doubles in size and you can draw two panels or a wide splash panel. Open it again and you get a tall page (classic minicomic size, for those of you who think that way), once again and you get a landscape, half-page canvas to work with. Then you open up the sheet all the way to reveal the complete second side of the sheet, which could be anything from a splash-page to a dense, Chris Ware-inspired diagram.
Two things happen when you are reading these booklets, then: each page/spread is bigger than the previous one, and, more subtly, you alternate between a horizontal and a vertical orientation.
As an artist, you need to reckon with various constraints and make them work in your favor to tell a story. Ideally the unusual format will in part inform the content: what kinds of stories are prompted by the act of unfolding and/or the phenomena of doubling in size and teetering between vertical and horizontal?
Almost incidentally this is also a good assignment to teach scanning and layout skills since you need to be able to straighten the images and make two files (in Photoshop, InDesign, or other programs) that can be printed double-sided so that the folds line up with the art.
Here’s one by our student Sean Newman (SVA ’13) formatted for viewing on line: