Going in For the Snakes

Going in for the Snakes - Begins Oct 28, 2018

Storytelling with words, drawings, honesty, transmutation, and even lying in the service of emotional power.

Watch Intro Video

Going in for the Snakes

Opens only once this year- in the fall. Begins October 28,2018. (October is my birth month and this is my gift to myself to teach this material to you!)

This is my best class!

Life is too short to make superficial stories. Let's give our hearts some air and our spirits some light.

“Today, writing, for me, is above all a battle to avoid lying” - Elena Ferrante

This is my favorite course! And my best course.

It's true!

Last year's Snakes class was incredibly successful, and  it coalesced what I have been wanting to focus on for more than 15 years.

How to put your own depths on the page.

Now I know that these methods work, but we gotta have the strength to go in. I've tried it and been lazy, and I've tried it and been strong. It's always better when I go in strong.

How will you go in?

Thanks to Tim Kreider and Megan Kelso for briefing me on this amazing metaphor...

What We'll Do

We'll look at some of my favorite direct and indirect emotional, visceral and powerful comics. We'll read popular samples from Chester Brown, Lynda Barry, Julia Gfrorer, Chris Ware and little seen examples from Kristen Radtke, Leonie Brailey, Alabaster, Josh Bayer and many many more. We'll use their brilliances to guide us.

We'll examine some of our own favorite art, songs and stories. We'll work together and alone, we'll combine ideas, we'll use our mother's favorite song.

We'll do some writing each session.

We'll figure out ways to depict these ideas, and sometimes we'll start with images and see which stories seem to relate.

In all of this, we'll be trying to locate a beating heart we had maybe neglected or not known about it, and we'll try to tell its story in words and pictures.

You must pacify or destroy anything in your way to go forward. - John Darnielle, Wolf in White Van

Going in for the Snakes

The Snakes are the hard things, the difficult material, the stuff that will bite you. But you and Pee-Wee Herman and Indiana Jones and Elena Ferrante know that if you can confront them, you will be powerful.

Joseph Campbell says, "The snake is the symbol of life throwing off the past and continuing to live… It is the power of life, because the snake sheds its skin, just as the moon sheds its shadow."

This is the course where we'll grow from the power of our art. Where we will transmute wounds and sorrow into lightness and strength.

Image at top by Lynda Barry

This class is a weekly series of topics, exercises and conversations. 

I'm hoping you'll share and recommend other readings confidently.

(example from Julia Gfrorer, Black is the Color)

You don't have to take this class! 

It's easier to just make silly diary comics about what's in our fridge, or comics our friends will like on Facebook, but you know we've got a real story to tell, and we ought tell it.

We know that not digging around for the hard stuff is worse than avoiding it.

But we also know it's hard! We sometimes have to come at it from the side, dig around with our eyes closed, throw some stones in and listen for the echoes.

And we know that if we work at it and find and transmute some of that harder stuff, then we'll free a new freedom and satisfaction and strength.


“Take, for example, this cluster of things: a naked woman, a snake, a tree, an apple. Let us forget that they care the icons of The Fall, and consider, first, a real snake, perhaps the one that lives with me. I watch her slow movements, feel the strength in her long body, see her skin grow dull, her eyes cloud over until she looks lifeless -- and I wake one morning to find her old skin crumples like a discarded nylon stocking. She has slipped out, her scales iridescent, her eyes bright; she is hungry now, on the prowl, new again. And I could say that to me, the snake as a symbol now means, not The Fall, but renewal, resurrection. Yet that also would be false, because in the language of magic the symbol has no intellectually assigned meaning; it is a pointer that says, “Look. Pay attention to this thing.” And in giving my attention to the living being of my snake, I learn -- not just with my mind but with my senses, my experience-- about renewal. Yet you might learn something else."

In this course, you will create your own symbols.

Your guide.

I'm Tom Hart. have always tried to be serious and emotional, even in my funny work. Eventually, I found myself having to tell the story of my daughter. It took what practices I had already developed to do it with the depth and respect I felt was called for.

(me and Molly Rose)

If you're like I am, you’ve got many scraps of notes, half-started stories, and pictures with nowhere to go.

But I've always believed that we have to make something, we have believe in Who We Are Now and tell our story. From there, we can become deeper and stronger. Through our work, we'll change ourselves.

In 2012, I founded a school on the belief that anyone can access their imagination and empower their artistic lives.

6 weeks and a free-form wrap up.

Each week we will look at great stories, do a small exercise and be asked to share as much as we are comfortable in the group page. There will be a tiny bit of collaboration, but judging from last year's class, tons of great ocnversation.

In the spirit of a quote I once heard, "Not the transmission of information, but the creation of knowledge", we'll see how you guys think the course should end. 

Maybe everyone shoots for a different final goal: a completed sketchbook, a 3-page story, a box of index cards, a trip to the sauna.

This class ran in-person at SAW in Gainesville, FL and then online in 2017 and we're offering it to you again here in 2018.

NOTE: The full course is offered as an cost-efficient, self-guided course here. I'd love to see you there!

Course Curriculum

Going in for the Snakes

I'm ready to go in!

What's included?

8 Videos
34 Texts
22 PDFs
Tom Hart
Tom Hart
Executive Director of The Sequential Artists Workshop

About the instructor

Tom Hart is a cartoonist has been the Executive Director of The Sequential Artists Workshop, a school and arts organization in Gainesville, Florida since 2012.

His 2016 memoir, Rosalie Lightning, debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List and was featured on many Best-Of-2016 lists.

His Hutch Owen series of graphic novels and books, were nominated for all the major industry awards. His The Collected Hutch Owenwas nominated for best graphic novel in 2000. He was an early recipient of a Xeric Grant for self-publishing cartoonists, and has been on many best-of lists in the Comics Journal and other comix publications. He has been called “One of the great underrated cartoonists of our time” by Eddie Campbell and “One of my favorite cartoonists of the decade” by Scott McCloud. His daily Hutch Owen comic strip ran for 2 years in newspapers in New York and Boston, and his “Ali’s House”, co-created with Margo Dabaie was picked up by King Features Syndicate.

He was a core instructor at New York City’s School of Visual Arts for 10 years, teaching cartooning to undergraduates, working adults and teens alike. Among his students were Dash Shaw, Sarah Glidden Box Brown and other published cartoonists like Leslie Stein, Jessica Fink,Josh Bayer, Brendan Leachand many others. He has taught comix and sequential art at schools and institutions all around New York City for more than 10 years, and has conducted week-long workshops from Maine to Hawaii. He also teaches sequential art in the School of Art and Art History at UF.

A couple other recent books:
Daddy Lightning
Let’s Get Furious
The Sequential Artists Workshop Guide to Making Professional Comic Strips

His website is http://www.tomhart.net

What others have been saying about this course:

Jamie Eby

Best online class I've ever taken

I loved everything about this class--the premise, the weekly reading assignments and exercises, the video intro to each week, the Google Communities format, and the enthusiastic and thoughtful fellow students. I learned so much--how exercises with...

Karr Antunes

So inspiring!

I came into this course feeling like I had nothing to write/draw about. The ideas I did have seemed pointless and sometimes too superficial to bother writing about. I thought I would be stuck in my head forever, but this course made me realize tha...

Michelle Bissonette


This class was really exciting. It allowed me to open up and come at the things I want to deal with in round-about ways. Coming at things in such a gradual way allowed me to tackle some BIG issues/stories without it feeling like such a gargantuan ...

Tom created a teaching environment that fostered open discussion, unbiased attitudes and a love for understanding how comics work and the kind of work we wanted to make. - Jess Fink

Tom's approach to education and guidance offers sensitivity and candor in equal measure. He offers technical insight across genre boundaries, adapting his criteria to each student's goals and aesthetic preferences. - Dan Strauss

Tom is a magical teacher and all-around great guy. He did not just help my brain understand how to create a good comic, but also opened my eyes to tons of great cartoonists, provided advice outside of class time, helped me find a thesis advisor, lent me fantastic books, etc. (the list goes on.) - Jess Worby

You make comic stories, storytelling so exciting and fun. I know I came to you with a crazy idea of writing a story. I don't think I'd have embarked on such an ambitious journey without your enthusiasm, boundless optimism, and most importantly, a belief in the story - Anna Kim

And anonymously:

  • I’ve been struggling to pull a full story together despite having ideas all the time. This class gave me effective tools to follow through with the storytelling process.

  • The course was fun, interesting and useful. I’ve already used the process on other projects.

  • Very inspiring teacher! Well structured sequence of exercises that really helped me to develop my work.

  • Really, Tom, this was an amazing course. You opened up whole lot of creative possibilities for me. I am really looking forward to more courses!

Going In For The Snakes

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Other courses by Tom Hart

Comics for Writers - MINI-COURSE | Always Enrolling
$35.00 / month
Graphic Memoir Intensive Working Group
How To Say Everything