Comics & Graphic Narratives

The Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program is pleased to announce the addition of Comics & Graphic Narratives to its body of genre concentrations, which also includes fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and writing for children and young adults. New faculty member Josh Neufeld, will be the lead instructor for this new concentration, and will begin teaching at Solstice in July 2016.

Comics are now being taught at almost every college and university in the country. But Solstice is one of the first low-residency programs to offer an MFA in comics and graphic narratives.

The new concentration will stress editorial insight on student projects and a social camaraderie. It will focus on both the creative and technical challenges of telling stories in the comics medium, and the distinctive visual language of comics.

A personal working process is something all cartooning artists share, whatever genre they pursue. The Comics & Graphic Narratives concentration will help to develop that sense of process, and to share ideas that can benefit everyone’s future work.

During the residency period, students will meet every day as a group, exploring the ideas and images they bring to the table, and through workshop feedback generate ways to hone their vision. Workshops will focus on idea generation, storytelling concerns, and the challenges of transforming ideas into actual scripts and drawings. The class will discuss the practices of artists working in comics, and also those working in fine art, filmmaking, journalism, and fiction writing — all of which are disciplines that lend themselves to comics. There will be regular group critiques, primarily intended to help students develop the ability to speak about their own and others’ work, and how to offer and accept constructive criticism.

In addition, there will be foundational courses on comics storytelling, character development, drawing, production, critical analysis, and the history of the medium.

Comics are an amalgam of words and pictures, but a good comic/graphic novel starts with a good story. In the end, the art serves the story. With that understanding, these will be the foundational texts of the graphic narratives concentration:

  • Scott McCloud, Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels (William Morrow, 2006)
  • Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (William Morrow, 1994)
  • Jessica Abel & Matt Madden, Drawing Words & Writing Pictures (First Second, 2008)
  • Will Eisner, Comics & Sequential Art (Poorhouse Press, 1985)
  • Ivan Brunetti, Cartooning: Philosophy & Practice (Yale University Press, 2011)

Neufeld has this to say about the new concentration:

“I’m really looking forward to getting this exciting new degree program off the ground. As a teacher/mentor, what I most enjoy is helping cartoonists find their voice, and identifying their strengths as writer/artists, and I’m excited to support the next great group of cartoonists in reaching their goals.”

About Faculty Member Josh Neufeld

Josh Neufeld is a cartoonist known for his nonfiction narratives of political and social upheaval, told through the voices of witnesses. His works of comics journalism have been published widely. As a comics artist, he has collaborated with such acclaimed writers as Brooke Gladstone, Harvey Pekar, and Nick Flynn. Neufeld is the writer/artist of the New York Times-bestselling nonfiction graphic novel A.D.: New Orleans after the Deluge (Pantheon). He is the co-editor of FLASHed: Sudden Stories in Comics and Prose (Pressgang). Neufeld has been a Knight-Wallace Fellow in journalism, and a Xeric Award-winner.

In 2014, Josh was an Atlantic Center for the Arts Master Artist, where he mentored eight Associate Artist cartoonists. As part of the U.S. Department of State's Speaker and Specialist program, Josh has traveled abroad as a “cultural ambassador,” giving presentations and conducting workshops in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. He has taught comics workshops at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, New York’s Society of Illustrators, and has served as a thesis advisor for students at the Center for Cartoon Studies and Hunter College. To learn more, visit