Going in For the Snakes

Opens only once this year. This year begins March 2022. 

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

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

This is my favorite course! And my best course.

It's true!

The last two years' Snakes classes were incredibly successful, and they coalesced what I have been wanting to focus on for more than 15 years, namely-

How to put your own depths on the page.

I've come to find some reliable methods to do this. A mixture of study, secrecy and sharing.

And 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?

Image of Leonie Brialey's amazing Raw Feels book.

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

(Image by Lynda Barry)

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.

What other students have said

Jamie Eby

5 star rating

“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...”

Read More

“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 constraints can help and guide us, and even push us in directions we might have explored otherwise. I learned how to draw faster so I could turn in work every week. From the readings, I learned about new artists that I'm excited about. I appreciate how much work and thought must have been put into creating this class. Each week built on the week before, and the exercises were unique, challenging, and fun. I can't say enough good things. Thank you Tom! ”

Read Less

Michelle Bissonette

5 star rating

“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 ...”

Read More

“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 task. I feel like many of the exercises and skills are things that I will add to my repertoire of idea building tactics and use for years to come. The readings were excellent and Tom is a fabulous instructor. Having an online community in which we can review each others' work and give feedback as to what is/isn't working was also extremely helpful.”

Read Less

Karlo Antunes

5 star rating

“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...”

Read More

“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 that all these deep ideas, life experiences, and feelings I have inside me can most definitely be put onto paper. I finished the course feeling like I have TOO MUCH to write about, which is incredible. Now all I want to do is draw and write every second of every day. THANKS A LOT. ”

Read Less

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.

This class is a weekly series of topics, exercises and conversations. I'm hoping you'll share and recommend other readings confidently. (image by Julia Gfrorer)

Curriculum

Each week features lots of great comic reading plus small exercises to get us moving.

  • Intro session featuring list building and beginning readings.

  • Session 1 - Including song lyrics and abstract comics

  • Session 2 - Featuring dream imagery and fragment comics by Jim Woodring, Aidan Koch and others

  • Session 3 - Us and Love featuring stories of how we relate to another person, or a family member or even pet.

  • Session 4 - Us and Society about how we relate to the broader group. Comics by Harmon, Eleanor Davis and more.

  • Session 5 - Bodies Birth and Death, about physicality. Comics by Eleanor Davis, Judith Vandistendael and more.

  • Session 6 - Us and History - Wrapping it up by connecting ourselves with the broader scope of history. Comics by Julie Doucet and others.

Going in the for the Snakes is mostly ASYNCHRONOUS, but there will be weekly calls on Monday nights, at 8 pm.

bonus weekly 1-hour calls

From STAR HAWK - DREAMING THE DARK:

“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.

I'm ready to go in!

Going in for the Snakes

Sliding Scale

Like a lot of my courses, I offer them at sliding scale prices. Pay what you can; it's all the same course.

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 conversation.

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 in early 2017 and then online yearly since 2017.


NOTE: The full course is offered as an cost-efficient, self-guided course here. I'd love to see you there! (Since this course usually only runs once a year, you can sign up for the self-guided version and receive a discount for the live version when it runs.)

Class Starts in -->

The Snakes class runs once a year!

  • 00 Days
  • 00 Hours
  • 00 Minutes
  • 00 Seconds