Syllabus: 10 Week Course

This syllabus could easily be used for a 12-week class as well. It would probably be enough to add a few extra work days, but you could also add back in some of the lessons we cut here, such as 5.2, “Figuring out the figure 1” and 12.2, “Figuring out the figure 2,” or chapter 14’s tutorial on scanning and pre-press, perhaps in tandem with Appendix E, “Making minicomics.” If you are teaching a 10-week class, you might want to consider keeping the three-to-four-page final assignment shorter, perhaps even a two-page story.

For notes and tips on teaching specific lessons, see the teachers’ guide to individual chapters.

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

Week 1: Building blocks/Every picture tells a story

Lecture/discussion: 1.1 Know ’em when you see ’em
Review: 1.2 Comics terminology
Activity: Drawing time
Alternate activity: Make homework assignment, “Drawing in action”, an in-class activity, with a critique
Lecture/discussion: 2.1 Word and image


Gag me
Read 3.1, 3.2, 4.1
Download & read “How to read Nancy”

Week 2: The strip club

Critique: Gag me
Lecture/discussion: 3.1 A comic a day
Optional lecture/discussion: 4.1 Reading between the lines
Activity: The wrong planet
Review: 3.2 Thumbnails
Field trip: Class visit to copy center this class or next


Strip it down (Ch. 3)
Read 6.1, 6.2, 7.1

Week 3: Getting on the same page

Critique: Strip it down
Lecture/discussion: 6.1 Elbow room
Lecture/demo: 6.2 Laying out pages, tiers, and panels
Activity: Lay out your live area
Lecture/demo: 7.1 Hand lettering
Activity: Make lettering guidelines and practice lettering
Activity: A comic with no pictures


“A month of Sundays” thumbnails (Ch. 6)
Finish activity: A comic with no pictures
Read 7.2, 5.1

Week 4: Penciling

Critique: “A month of Sundays” thumbnails
Critique: A comic with no pictures (original and reduced photocopy)
Lecture/demo: 5.1 Penciling comics
Activity: Pencil one panel (from “A month of Sundays” comic) three different ways
Optional lecture/demo: Basic title design (see page 76 & 98)


“A month of Sundays” penciling and lettering (Ch. 7)
Read 8.1, 8.2

Week 5: Inking the deal (nibs)

Critique: “A month of Sundays” penciling and lettering
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 (Ch. 8 )
Read 9.1, 9.2, 10.1

Week 6: Narrative arc

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)
Lecture/demo: 10.1 Developing your character
Activity: Play your cards right


Thumbnails for a three-to-four-page story with a narrative arc (Ch. 9)
Character pin-ups for your short story (Ch. 10)
Read 11.1, 12.1
Additional readings related to narrative arc structure

Week 7: Panel design/location

Critique: Thumbnails for a three-to-four-page story with a narrative arc
Critique: Character pin-ups for your short story
Lecture/discussion: 11.1 Panel design
Activity: Rethinking composition
Lecture/discussion: 12.1 Creating a sense of place
Optional activity: No time like the present
Activity: Revise thumbs and begin pencils of three-to-four-page comic in class


Short story pencils (Ch. 9-10)
Read 13.1, 13.2, 13.3, 11.2

Week 8: Black gold (brush)

Informal critique: Short story pencils-in-progress
Lecture/demo: 13.1 The liquid line & 13.2 Softening the blackz
Activity: Practice using a brush (using ideas from 13.1, 13.2, and 13.3)
Activity: Ink a panel in brush
Optional Lecture/demo: 11.2 Titles
Optional activity: Plan, lay out, and ink a title design for three-to-four-page comic
Activity: Work on short story pencils


Finish pencils of three-to-four-page story and begin inking (lettering and panel borders first)
Read 14.1, 14.2, Appendix E

Week 9: Work day/optional repro & minicomics lesson

Critique: Finished short story pencils
Optional Lecture/demo: Scanning, printing, making minicomics


Finish inking, make corrections, and reproduce three-to-four-page comic
Make a minicomic of your comics from class (optional)

Week 10: Final class

Critique: Finished short story comics
Activity: Trade photocopies, minicomics
Activity: Directed jam comic (Ch. 1 Extra credit)


2 Comments to Syllabus: 10 Week Course

  • by Linda Xiong

    On August 27, 2002 at 2:05 pm

    hey there,
    I think you guys might have some non working links?

    like.. are there suppose to be click-able links in this section?
    “For notes and tips on teaching specific lessons, see the chapter guide.
    Click for an editable syllabus format of this lesson plan. ”

    The “chapter guide” link and the “Click for an editable syllabus format of this lesson plan.” does not work.

    thank you!


    P.S. I am organizing a drawing group of local (bay area) inspiring comic artists to work on DWWP together.

  • by Matt

    On June 2, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Thanks for writing, Linda. Yes, there are definitely broken links still in the site. We just migrated the whole thing over to WordPress and to a new server so it’ll take a while to work the kinks out. (For one thing, these pages aren’t even supposed to be enabled for commenting! I’ll be disabling that soon, but you can always write us at Meanwhile, I’ll get to work fixing these links.


    PS keep us posted about your Bay Area group!