Are you sitting on a treasure trove of research?

Do you have too many good stories to tell? Are you a reporter looking for a new way to present stories to your readership? Graphic storytelling -- or, in simpler terms, comics -- is a great way to bring depth to your stories and engage people on a visceral level. Whether you're working on a story based on interviews with refugees or on interviews with your grandmother, I think you'll find that comics can be a great way to tell it.

In this course, I will personally walk you through moving from rich research material to rich graphic storytelling.

Take your rich material and squeeze it onto the comics page.

We'll survey examples of nonfiction comics and examine what works well and what doesn't in sequential art. And I'll show you how I take research that can amount to thousands of words and find the right threads to pull from it and the right visuals to tell the story. By the end of this course, you'll create two comic pages.
Take your rich material and squeeze it onto the comics page.

Learn what to edit in and what to edit out.

I've made dozens of short comics in my career, each drawn (ha) from over 20 pages of interviews! I know how hard it can be to focus on the good stuff. In this course, we'll look at complex texts and we'll learn how to break them down into key points. We'll look at how to make your comics have the have the emotional resonance to keep people reading. We'll learn how to turn dialogue and facts into pictures that keep the reader engaged. We'll work with your passions and curiosities.
Learn what to edit in and what to edit out.

What's included

  • 15 Videos

  • 18 Texts

  • 9 PDFs

  • 6-8 Hours

Want to learn the secrets of creating non-fiction comics?

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Course curriculum

  • 02
    Secrets of Visual Storytelling
    Show details
    • VIDEO - Secrets of Visual Storytelling (01:03)
    • Secrets of Visual Storytelling Objective
    • SCREENCAST - Storytelling Techniques in Comics Journalism (14:38)
    • PDF - Examples: Storytelling Techniques in Comics Journalism (30 Pages)
    • ASSIGNMENT 3 - Choosing Strong Visual and Word Pairings
  • 03
    Metaphor and Non-Obvious Imagery
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    • VIDEO - Metaphor and Non-Obvious Imagery (02:02)
    • Metaphor and Non-Obvious Imagery Objective
    • PDF - Metaphor and Non-Obvious Imagery Examples (13 Pages)
    • SCREENCAST - Metaphor and Non-Obvious Imagery Examples (12:00)
    • ASSIGNMENT 4 - Making Your Own Visual Metaphor
  • 04
    Planning the Unified Story Page
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    • VIDEO - Planning the Unified Story Page (01:34)
    • Planning the Unified Story Page Objective
    • PDF - Planning the Unified Story Page PART ONE - Page 1 thru 5 - (5 Pages) (reuploaded 07/06/17)
    • PDF - Planning the Unified Story Page PART TWO Pages 5 thru 8 (4 Pages) (reuploaded 07/06/17)
    • SCREENCAST - Planning the Unified Story Page (14:12)
    • ASSIGNMENT 5 - Planning Your Own Page
  • 05
    Choosing a Topic and Homing In
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    • VIDEO - Choosing a Topic and Homing In (02:21)
    • Choosing a Topic and Homing In Objective
    • SCREENCAST - Choosing a Topic and Homing In (21:20)
    • PDF - Homing In (18 pages)
    • Assignment 6 - Build One Scene
  • 06
    Visual References and Details
    Show details
    • VIDEO - Visual References and Details (02:29)
    • Visual References and Details Objectives
    • SCREENCAST - Visual References and Details (15:48)
    • PDF - Visual References and Details (28 Pages)
    • Assignment 7 - Highlight Your Details
    • Assignment 8 - Ingredient List
    • Assignment 9 - Visual References and Details
  • 07
    Planning the Final Story Page
    Show details
    • VIDEO - Planning the Final Story Page (03:21)
    • Planning the Final Story Page Objective
    • SCREENCAST - Planning the Final Story Page (17:40)
    • PDF - Planning the Final Story Page (15 Pages)
    • Assignment 10 - Planning the Final Story Page
  • 08
    Thanks from Jess
    Show details
    • VIDEO - Congratulations and Thanks from Jess (00:46)

From our students:

  • Charl Elias

    “This class gave me a lot of practical guidance towards breaking down a ream of material into concise, workable chunks. As a result I am approaching editing for comics in a very different way- and I like it! My thinking has changed considerably in ...”

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    “This class gave me a lot of practical guidance towards breaking down a ream of material into concise, workable chunks. As a result I am approaching editing for comics in a very different way- and I like it! My thinking has changed considerably in this area. Great class!”

    Read Less

Self-Guided Course

Learn the secrets of creating non-fiction comics.

  • Jess Ruliffson

    Instructor Bio:

    Jess Ruliffson is and award-winning cartoonist currently interviewing veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars for a full-length graphic novel. She’s given lectures and workshops at The Drawing Center, The Center for Cartoon Studies, and The Sequential Artist Workshop. She recently completed artwork for The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan by Bryan Doerries, available April 2016 from Pantheon Books. Other clients include The Boston Globe, Wilson Quarterly, Oxford American, E-Line Industries, Columbia University School of Journalism, Medium.com, PEN America, The NYC Police Foundation, Symbolia Magazine, The Cartoon Picayune, and So What? Press.

    Jess Ruliffson

    Instructor