Writing Practice: The Daily Comic

Posted on January 18, 2021


I LOVE writing. I LOVE the thinking part of it, but I also love the physical act of writing, on paper, with handheld utensils. I write to think, to reflect, to solve problems, to maintain a healthy weight, to stay fit, to wonder, to experiment, to learn…

Like many, I felt a need for a clean slate in 2021, so I started a new personal journal–and a new wellness journal, and I’m enjoying writing in them both.

I write about my weight, exercise, and health concerns in my wellness journal.

I write about everything else in my personal journal.

I write in both of them most days, but sometimes I don’t, and I’m okay with that. I am writing for ME, so whatever happens with my journaling practice is all good. I’m guilt free and always will be. Writing is love, not duty.

A few days ago, I remembered a type of writing that I’ve been wanting to practice regularly, that I said I would do in 2020, but that I did not. I decided to give it a go.

I went to the basement and found an old notebook with unlined, blank pages. In typical fashion, I had started writing in the first few pages–in the year 2000–and then I had abandoned the notebook. Of the two pieces I wrote there, I like one, I’m happy to say.

I tore out the pages that I had written on, and assembled pencil, pen, markers, and colored pencils.

I began again: The Daily Draw notebook, where I will try to draw at least ONE comic per day.

See how it’s going in this slide show: The Daily Draw.

I’m looking forward to learning a lot as I practice writing comics in my new notebook. I’m feeling thankful for everyone who has shared their love of comics/graphic works with me. It is not a genre I was naturally drawn to (pun intended!), but the more I explore it, as a reader and as a writer, the more I enjoy it. I honor many of the people who have written and/or suggested comic books and authors. A montage of wonderful images, characters, and voices of comics and those who love them is unleashed in my mind when I look at the names in the dialog balloons on the dedication page. It’s like visiting a comic-lovers’ cocktail party, right there on the page.

Have you thought of starting your own comic writing practice?

I used comic-drawing often as a way of writing-to-learn in my high school ELA classes. In my Mythology course, each unit is organized around a theme, such as “Death/Afterlife,” and includes about a dozen stories from around the world and throughout all of human history. At the end of the unit, I ask students to write a story, poem, or comic strip on the theme that includes several conventions common to that type of myth. I can picture many of the delightfully unique comics that were produced by Mythology students. There were several students who could’ve made books from the comic strips they created, but none of them took me seriously when I said that to them, but I am serious! I still have some portfolios from former students, and I still can’t believe they’d just give me their amazing work. I always used examples from former students as instructional tools in class, so I put them to use, but I would ask, “Are you sure?”

And the student would usually just shrug and hand me the portfolio, pleased and proud to become immortal by sharing their work with future students.

Over the years and across my courses, I have asked students to draw 4-panel comics to:

show what their first week of school was like;

introduce yourself to the class;

illustrate a new, complex concept;

show how your day is going;

demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a literary character or archetype;

demonstrate understanding of plot structure (exposition, rising action, climax, resolution);

demonstrate understanding of the Hero Quest (call, mentoring, tasks, return);

demonstrate understanding of a key scene in a literary work;

compose a personal and/or fictional narrative;

re-tell a story from another genre;

compare and contrast concepts, characters, or writing styles…

and many other reasons.

And those are just 4-panel strips! There are SO many other reasons to draw comics–I could make a 1-panel comic about it!

If you are starting to think of comics you’d like to draw, here are some of my favorite authors and teachers of the art form. Click a link and learn from the masters!

Lynda Barry’s Syllabus Follow the link to audit Barry’s uni class! (To get to the start of the class, click here and then scroll down the page until you reach the syllabus, then start working your way backwards.)

Scott McCloud’s Making Comics

Watch Marjane Satrapi Draw and Talk About How She Became a Comic Artist

Alison Bechdel : Drawing Lessons: The Comics of Everyday Life (@ 25 minutes in; filmed at UMich)

lisa eddy is a writer and editor for-hire, researcher, educator-for-hire, youth advocate,  musician, and gardener.

On Twitter: @lisa_eddy

On email: lisagay.eddy1@gmail.com

Posted in: Books, Comics, Writing