This is your time to find the focus and tools to say, 'Yes! I am ready. I am here to bring my Graphic Novel to life.'
The Graphic Novel Development Intensive is what you need.
Here we bring together the combined wisdom and experience of SAW instructors Tom Hart, Jess Ruliffson, Hyena Hell and Emma Jensen to provide you with inspiration, advice, critique, motivation and structured plan forward.
Through access to unique learning resources, a vibrant community and regular special events with comics professionals, you will gain insights into what it takes to realize your vision.
Make the decision to make your book happen.
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Honing in on your idea: Choosing what to work with.
Parameters and Formats: What to focus on and aim for.
Story and Structure: Using tools to compel the reader.
Keeping Going: How to find the energy to keep going.
Planning the Finish: Making a plan for the upcoming weeks, months or whatever it takes!
Publishing and Sharing: Lots of stories about how to wrap it up for the world.
Reflection: Learning from what you have experienced and accomplished.
Accountability: weekly zoom calls with instructors and peers!
You will have the support of SAW's professionals who have been where you have been, felt what you have felt. Interact with them through the online community page, weekly Zoom check-ins and regular office hours.
Tom Hart is a champion of comics education who founded SAW in 2011 to be the comics school he never had. He has since released half a dozen graphic novels, instructional manuals and short comics, including his NY Times best selling graphic memoir, Rosalie Lightning.
Jess Ruliffson is an award-winning cartoonist who has lectured and taught workshops at The School of Visual Arts, The Drawing Center, and The Center for Cartoon Studies. In 2017, her work was shortlisted for Slate's Cartoonist Studio Prize. In 2022 her latest graphic novel, Invisible Wounds, will be released through Fantagraphics.
Hyena Hell is a cartoonist, illustrator and sometimes-printmaker. Her comics have been published by Silver Sprocket, Tinto Press, Birdcage Bottom Books, and her own imprint, Horror Vacui Press.
Emma Jensen is an Australian comics artist, editor and educator based in Gainesville, Florida. She came to SAW for the year long program in 2018. Since then she has self-published six zines, and has had her work included in Ink Brick and kus magazines.
Throughout the course we are also joined by various comics professionals who share their hard won wisdom of the comics industry. In 2021 alone that included Matt Madden, Annie Mok, Miranda Harmon, Katherine Woodman Maynard, Sam Alden, Sophie Yanow, Andi Santagata, Hannah McGill, Kriota Willberg and Casey Nowak.
“SAW provides the community, encouragement, inspiration and guidance I need. I wish I'd signed up when I was 5 - with this kind of teaching and fellow students - who knows what I might have achieved?! Meantime I'm grateful to have found it aged 58, thanks SAW :)”
“The community, the materials, the instructors, the weekly calls (and pro-calls!), and the feedback - everything was amazing, useful, and so much fun!”
“I feel like the past two weeks in SAW have been the most productive art weeks I've ever had. My story, in my mind and on paper (both digital and real paper) is taking shape. I have never been more excited at the prospect of actually getting somewhere with this.”
“I got my first book in the mail today! I couldn't have done this without all of you and without SAW. I have to say it feels amazing to hold a physical copy of my first book in my hands. I thought a digital copy would be enough but I like this more than I thought I would.”
“I've finished the planning stage for that album cover I've been juggling with this program. Sorry this isn't technically my graphic novel but I used the coursework to help me through all this, too. The "Honing in on your idea" and "Parameters and Formats" sections were instrumental to working through my anxiety and committing to ideas.”
“I'm still getting the hang of the range of "finished" in this kind of work and this piece feels kind of like a breakthrough to me - the result of the SAW courses I've been taking and finding this great community.
You know, the kind of thing you look at a couple of days later and say to yourself, "Did I really make that?"”
“I am really appreciating the Graphic Novel Group right now. Creative work is hard in a way that I think only other creative types can fully understand. So thanks for your encouragement. ”
“My dear Graphic Novel Development Community, I just learned that I received a grant to create my graphic novel "The Ruins of Everything I Love". I owe a lot to this community. Thank you for your help, without you I would not have been able to do this. ”
How does this differ from the Online Year Long Certificate Program?
This program is focused on a single project.
The online certificate program is more of an exploratory, tool-building, voice-finding program.
When you have some tools and a sense of your voice and project, then you are ready or this!
1. Do you want significantly more skills to be able to do comics "right"?
2. Or do you just want to make your graphic novel happen ?
*We put "right" in quotes because we believe everyone can make something stunning with what they have if they have the will and a support system.
The Year Long Certificate Program: When you really really want to up your skills to something more akin to what you see in the graphic novel aisle of the bookstore or library you go to. We teach an amalgam of skills including anatomy, landscape drawing, composition, color/value placement, character design, etc.
This will help you find your voice to create your own comics from start to finish.
After that, we often recommend the Graphic Novel Intensive for: Wisdom, project management, working skills, and mentorship- that's what the Graphic Novel program is about.
Of course your path may be different. We've had people do only one of them. We've had people do them in reverse order.
We're here to help you get YOUR comics made!
Do I Need To Have Started My Graphic Novel Already?
No! We understand (boy, do we!) how hard it is to START.
But you should have some idea of what the project is, and be eager to start. We will hold you accountable, but YOU have to do the work. Accountability, group discussion and critique is a lot of what this program is about.
We will ask you to show up, again and again and again.
What is the time commitment like?
The time commitment is entirely up to you. We can't make the book for you ;) As with most programs of this kind, the people that get the most out of it put the most in. You have to find a rhythm that works for you. As for interacting in the group, you can get away with as little or as much as you like as well. We know life gets in the way and feel that if you can devote 3-5 hours a week at a minimum, you should be able to some progress. There is at least one zoom call each week that generally runs for 2 hours and functions as an informal check in with instructors and peers.
Is this all pre-recorded or live or what?
All the video components of the course materials are prerecorded. The community is open 24/7 and Tom, Emma and Jess will be in it daily. Additionally, we meet weekly via Zoom. At least one instructor, sometimes two, will be on each of these, with one call per month featuring a professional cartoonist, editor or creator.
What is the schedule for the Zoom calls?
The calls will be weekly, alternating 2 pm and 8 pm Eastern on Tuesdays. They are not mandatory and are recorded unless otherwise stated.
Will Emma, Tom, Jess or anybody at SAW be able to read my 300-page graphic novel?
No, not in its entirety. We can only read short-story sized excerpts at the scale of this program.
Our main personal offering is an ability to help you see the whole project in context, the motivation and some strategy to work on it, and editorial feedback and critiquing help where needed.
If you want more in-depth feedback, or editorial services for the entire project, please look to our 1-on-1 consulting page.
Is there a materials list?
There is no materials list. This course is for people working on something in a medium they are comfortable with. For people who are looking to change their practice, we can help them figure out the best materials to help them reach their goals.
What will the discussions in the Mighty Network be like?
One of the instructors will be in the discussion group at least every other day. The online community works best with investment from the cohort of students all working on similar problems and challenges together. We are excited to guide the discussions in important and valuable ways, and give direct feedback to the work that is shared there.
Can I talk to someone to see if this really is the right course for me?
Yes! Absolutely! We want to make sure this course is the right fit for you and for us. If we aren't already in touch with you, please email us if you want to share what you want to be working on so we can make sure we can serve you.