Guided Comics-making

Late last year, i started working through Lynda Barry’s “Making Comics”, and intending to pick it back up soon has me wanting to share some of my past work here 🙂

The book is adapted from an actual class she used to teach in person, which is informed by years of teaching art to little ones. The core of the concept behind her book is her drawing inspiration from this experience and noticing through the years how kids approach creativity: with wonder, without shame, and willing to experiment regardless of the outcome

In the first few pages, she gives a syllabus and other lists that definitely make you feel like you’re about to embark on a cool learning trip. Sometimes exercises involve exchanging your drawings with other students and building up that way. It’s so cool 😭

One of the first exercises is to make a character of yourself, to help you get out of your own way, be more open to learning and not get caught up in the “i couldn’t do xyz because i’m zzz

This is mine, their name is Cuernitx. They’re a little weary but also eager to show up every day anyways to challenge life to prove them wrong, cause who knows what cool thing might happen?

She divvies the book into ‘lessons’ and recommends starting off every lesson with a quick selfie to warm up. To help with avoiding potentially-repetitive selfies, she gives a list of topics. I created tiny cards from these topics (with some of my own alterations). Here are some of the selfies i drew from these + some of the cards

I am picking it back up soon, and as i reviewed the exercises i was reminded how fun and excited i feel working on these. they feel super laid back and generative – open enough to be able to reuse and make part of my art practice. and I’m also picking them back up because I’ve felt like I’ve been in a slump and art making is about showing up , and continue to show up.

The book has other exercises to loosen up that are more involved than the check-in selfies, and not quite comics yet (think “wax on, wax off” type of exercises ;)). Here’s a couple of those: the one on the left, you draw with two hands at the same time where one copies the other, and the other one is drawing with eyes closed ofc. what i like abt these is that it looking “ugly” wasn’t a deterrent and that i’m pushed to be more accepting of “imperfection” and “as is”

As the book progresses, there’s exercises that start to look more like comics. The one below was sort of a character development sheet. i was surprised by what came out 100%

The steps were basically:

  1. split paper into four parts,
  2. draw four squiggles in each square,
  3. draw a monster-y character inspired by/ using the squiggles as base,
  4. Make a list of
    1. something you’ve wondered within last couple of days,
    2. a line from a poem,
    3. something on your to-do list, and
    4. maybe a line from your favorite song? i think there was a more specific theme here and i did the opposite so i don’t remember exactly.
  5. Finally, add each thought to a character that fits them best

From here, she makes you pick one character and slowly write their story through specific steps. Here, i drew the character’s family.

Then, though I was supposed to stick to the same character, I decided to pick a different one whose design I liked a little bit more. Barry makes you divide a paper into six sections, fold it all up so you don’t see every square all at once, and do each step out of sequence. This is supposed to help avoid get locked into a perspective that might limit what you can imagine, isn’t that cool?

I say see ya with the last exercise I did before I paused the book last time. TBH I partly stopped because I got stuck with this exercise in particular – Barry invites you to take content from your daily life, to take note of what you hear, see, say, experience, and incorporate it into your work. Uff