Comics & Graphic Narratives

ON THE MEDIA! Check out this interview by Chris Hassan with Comics and Graphic Narratives faculty member Josh Neufeld (click here), and see Hassan's coverage of the Solstice program here.

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, is the lead instructor of our new concentration.

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 stresses story. While most comics students are skilled artists, what they lack is the foundations of craft taught to writers of fiction and creative nonfiction—tools necessary to tell a story no matter what its medium. During most of the first half of the Solstice Program’s 10-day residencies, our comics students are in morning workshop with C&GN faculty member Josh Neufeld. These sessions allow C&GN students to workshop their stories with Josh and their fellow comic artists, and discuss strategies to strengthen their stories and their artwork. On the last day of the residency’s first half (day 5), C&GN students are placed in workshops with fellow children’s/YA, adult fiction, or nonfiction writers; faculty member Josh Neufeld co-teaches these workshops just for that day. Then, during the second half of each residency, C&GN students remain in those workshops with other fiction, nonfiction, or young people’s lit writers (all of whom are given guidelines for discussing/critiquing comics/graphic narratives). Every afternoon of the residency is spend taking classes that span from comics-specific to the craft of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and writing for young people.

A personal working process is something all cartooning artists share, whatever genre they pursue. The Comics & Graphic Narratives (C&GN) concentration helps to develop that sense of process, and to share ideas that can benefit everyone’s future work. Students receive instruction on both the creative and technical challenges of telling stories in the comics medium, and the distinctive visual language of comics. Idea generation, storytelling concerns, and the challenges of transforming ideas into actual scripts and drawings are also addressed. In addition, Solstice features foundational courses on comics storytelling, character development, drawing, production, critical analysis, and the history of the medium. C&GN students also attend craft classes offered to all of our nonfiction and fiction (including writing for young people) students as well as our poets.

Special guests to date have included New Yorker cartoonist Paul Karasik talking about “How Comics Work” (based on his “How to Read Nancy” book); poet-artist Bianca Stone discussing poetry comics; graphic novelist Joel Christian Gill teaching “The Language of Comics”; comics artist & comics historian Alexander Danner conducting a class on “Structure & Play” in comics; graphic novelist, illustrator, and comics instructor Sophie Goldstein offering a session on world-building in comics and graphic narratives; and New York Times bestselling novelist/illustrator Marika McCoola teaching the graphic-novel script. Alongside faculty member Josh Neufeld, working artist-writers teach craft classes at every residency!

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 are the foundational texts of our Comics & 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)

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.”