2008 Portland workshop follow up

photo by Erika Moen

We didn’t have this blog back in 2008 when we taught an intensive workshop at the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA), so we’re taking this opportunity to catch up with some students from that program.

The curriculum at PNCA wasn’t that different from the 3-day workshop we just did in West Virginia, except that our mission was to simply teach writing comics (in thumbnail, i.e. visual form), not get into penciling and inking. (We taught the first of several units in a multi-part, annual program called Graphic Novel Intensive.) Our workshop syllabus will follow in a subsequent post.

The really remarkable thing about this workshop, the first where we had DWWP available to us to teach with, was the cohesion of the student group. Every time we teach a group like this, when the class is over, we recommend that they exchange information and meet up independently to continue working. This is one of the few groups who actually took our advice, and the result is the great anthology, Intense, which you can get your hands on here.

photo by Erika Moen

Here’s recent feedback from workshop student Jefferson Powers:

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I signed up for a three-day workshop at the Pacific Northwest College of Art called Drawing Words and Writing Pictures, offered as part of the school’s Graphic Novel Intensive in the summer of 2008. I was trying to get back into making comics after a long break, so I figured I might pick up a few tips, maybe meet some like-minded people among the other students. I had at least heard of Jessica Abel and Matt Madden before and admired their work, so at least I’d get to meet them.

The methodology they used to teach the class emphasized planning and structure over illustration skill, essentially teaching what is unique to the comics medium rather than merely offering drawing lessons. Thanks to their (at the time) newly published textbook, they were able to spend class time on in-class exercises and critiques, relying on the book to provide information that would have consumed valuable class time with lecture otherwise. The class was able to help me get over some of the hang-ups I had as a comics creator, and get on with the business of completing a story.

Several students got together after the workshop was over and resolved to complete the stories we had begun in class, with the eventual aim of publishing an anthology. Five months later we published INTENSE: Tales From the 2008 PNCA Graphic Novel Intensive, following it up with a book release event and later, a show of our original art at a local gallery.

Since then, one of our group has gone on to be accepted at the Center For Cartoon Studies in Vermont, while two others have started multimedia webcomics (which I’m helping out with). I also managed to publish an additional minicomic of my own last year.

Jefferson Powers

Other students of the workshop include:
Kevin Uehlein
Jon McNally
Randall Jahnson
Greg Tozian (with Noelle Brooks)
Jeremy Short

Incidentally, the 2010 version of Graphic Novel Intensive beins June 21 and will be taught be Shaenon K. Garrity and PNCA faculty member Daniel Duford more info here.


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