Make a “foldy” minicomic

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.

(an assortment of foldy comics from our 2010-2011 Storytelling class at SVA. Clockwise from top: José Molestina, Lori Esposito, Lior Zaltzman, Tori Schweyer, & Sean Newman in the middle.)

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:

The cover is also the first panel of the comic.

opening the booklet upward we get a large panel putting us on the spaceship.

The next, even larger, panel shows the bridge and suggests that all may not be normal...

Now a multiple panel sequence where the crew tries to make senes of their anomolous readings.

Unfolding the last fold you open this dramatic full page image showing the sorry fate of the hapless spaceship!


11 Comments to Make a “foldy” minicomic

  • by Jarod Rosello

    On February 17, 2011 at 11:44 am

    This is fantastic! One of the challenges, I’ve found, of teachig comics in a non-comics class setting is getting my creative writing, composition, and (now) education students to buy into the idea that comics are also artifacts and objects of imagination, and the paper construction aspect seems it might make that relationship more explicit. I also think this accomplishes lots of things at once. It’s an emphasis on the principles of sequential art, there’s a “game” aspect to this (which is always helpful when coercing hesitant artists to draw–did I say coerce?), and you end up with an object that is complete, and thus rewarding. Definitely going to try this in a couple weeks! Thanks for sharing!

  • by Jessica Abel

    On February 17, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    check this out–it’s a great format.

  • by Matt

    On February 17, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Excellent, I agree with you 100%. Let us know how it goes if you use it in class.

  • by Tom Hart

    On February 18, 2011 at 11:30 am

    This is terrific. I haven’t done these! Great job getting that out of Sean, too!

  • by Jarod

    On March 28, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Just an update: I did these with my class last week and they turned out great. And also, some of the most touching and sincere comics I’ve ever gotten from my students. I was really impressed.

  • by Matt

    On March 30, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    That’s great to hear, Jarod. I met Jay Hosler last weekend (see the recent NECAC post) and he’s been using it with students in his Comics and Culture class at Juniata College. And did you see our student Kat’s blog post about her “double dare” foldy comic?

  • by Jarod

    On March 31, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Wow that’s a great comic. Jay Hosler is a great guy (we share the same local comic shop). I’m doing a comics workshop at the public library for free comic book day and I think I might try this with the kids there.

  • by Matt

    On March 31, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Ha, awesome! I didn’t realize you were so close. A lot of activity in mid-PA. Do you know Kevin McCloskey at Kutztown U? He’s commented here a bit and I hope to rope him in to doing a guest post at some point as well.

  • by Jarod

    On April 1, 2011 at 9:22 am

    No, I don’t know him. (I don’t even know where Kutztown is. I’m a transplanted Floridian, but after four years, I should probably start to know this state a little better.) It would be nice to get all the Central PA people together at some point. Everyone is really excited about comics around here.

  • by Phoebe Fisher

    On October 13, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    I stumbled across this blog when researching a Sequential Arts unit that I am teaching in a Drawing and Painting course at a central PA high school. I graduated from Kutztown University- small world! Thanks for maintaining this site. It has been an essential resource for someone new to the world of comics.

  • by Matt

    On October 14, 2015 at 1:56 am

    Thanks for commenting, Phoebe, we’re glad you find the site useful. And yes, it’s a small world, isn’t it!

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