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Back to school classes for comic book creation in Canada

Illustration by Michelle Swinimer

It’s that time of year again, when school is back in session and students return to the classroom for studies. So here are just a few of the many courses offered for the fall 2021 school season that are designed to help comic book creators bring their inspirations to life.

Please note, this list is not exhaustive and may be updated based on the ongoing pandemic situation. So if you know of others and an entry needs to be updated, please contact with the information for this page. 

Drawing – Introduction to Comics
Have fun with comics and cartooning. Inspired by comic genres ranging from surreal psychedelic to autobiographic graphic medicine, you’ll enjoy a variety of exercises and create a mini-zine by the workshop’s end. Materials for the first class are provided. You’ll receive a list of materials required for subsequent classes.

Avenue Road Arts School
Comic Book Art – Grades 3-6

In this online program, you will learn how to make comics and draw your visual stories. You will learn about character design, comic terminologies, writing stories, comic book design, typography and gain inspiration from renowned contemporary comic artists and their works, as well as from traditional superheroes and Japanese Manga. You will learn to adapt stories into graphic narratives and complete a finished comic, drawing inspiration from comic books and other forms of art like music, movies, and videogames. You will have the opportunity to create works that represent your ideas using powerful composition and expressive design. Heroes, villains, scary monsters, and space aliens that want to take over the world will come to life in this hands-on virtual program.

Camosun College
Comics & Graphic Novels – Certificate
This program teaches visual storytelling, a language composed of interconnected words and pictures. With the broad and diverse skill-set you will acquire, you can create comic books, graphic novels, web comics, and comic strips in any genre, as well as storyboards for gaming, film, video, and animation!

Emily Carr University of Art + Design
Graphic Novel I(Introductory)

This intensive workshop focuses on the production fundamentals of dynamic graphic novels, such as storyboarding, character development, and narrative dialogue. Building off of students’ individual illustration and drawing styles, the Graphic Novel Weekend Intensive will help students transform their ideas and sketches into fully-realized/completed engaging graphic stories. This workshop will include in-class discussions and critiques to strengthen individual art, design and communication skills.

Emily Carr University of Art + Design
Graphic Novel II (Intermediate)

In Graphic Novel II, you will continue to develop and broaden your visual narrative skills through a focused study of character development, narrative structures, passage of time, flow, perspective, and composition. Instructor feedback and peer critiques will provide an opportunity to review and improve current graphic narratives, from concept to final product. This course is a continuation of our popular Graphic Novel workshop and will be most beneficial to students who have begun work on a graphic narrative and are looking for continued support and instruction.

Forum Art Centre
Online Teen Comic Book Art

In this class, you will dive into the world of comic books and its many forms. You will examine the process of making comics and experiment with different tools to bring your stories to life. This class can be done traditionally with pencils, pens, pencil crayons, paints and more or digitally using programs such as Photoshop, Procreate or Krita. Artwork with class will be shared through the Discord app by upcoming a photo or digital file.

George Brown College
ART 9077 – Creating Graphic Novels

The Creating Graphic Novels course is a comprehensive course that takes you through all of the stages of graphic novel development, from concept to completion. This graphic novel course brings a strong written component together with the visual design of characters and execution of final artwork. Choose to complete your work through digital media or traditional media. Take part in illustrated lectures, demonstrations and one-on-one reviews of your work.

Graphic Novel and Comix – Certificate

The Graphic Novel and Comix Certificate Program is a full time evening program aimed at individuals who wish to pursue a career as a comic book creator.  The program consists of 17 courses that include traditional and digital mediums. As well as working with digital applications like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Clip Studio Paint Pro software, students will also learn about lettering, layout and colour applications as apply specifically to comic book art. Students will examine critical business issues such as publishing, self-promotion, copyright, and contract laws for graphic novelists. The emphasis of this program is on developing a personal style and voice, along with honing skills that enable individuals to accomplish traditional and digital storytelling in a sequential narrative capacity. The end goal of the program is for the student to produce a commercially viable graphic novel or comic book series as their graduation project.

MacEwan University
ARTE 0214 – Make a Comics Book in Colour (8-14 years)

Use colour to make the characters, gestures, and action in your comic book pop! Colour gives mood, excitement and interest to cartoons. Learn when and how to use colour while drawing characters and developing a story line. Use colour with line,shading and texture, and combine it with black and white to create cool effects.

Max The Mutt
Creating A Webcomic Series From Start To Finish

In this webcomic workshop, you’ll work on the essential fundamentals for making a webcomic that readers will want to follow day after day. Whether your style is comedy, sci-fi, fantasy, drama, you need to have the building blocks of story and theme, strong characters, and art direction to create your comic’s look and style. Learn how to make a webcomic and explore all the depths behind how to put it all together.

Digital Illustration and Comic Art – Certificate

Want to create original art to use in graphic novels, comic books, video games, children’s books, magazines or advertising? Jump into the world of digital illustration and learn how to tell a story or send a message with a single image! Bring your digital art to life: create an original character, a corresponding environment, and a fully 2D-rendered illustration. Find out how to manipulate Adobe Photoshop, the most popular and powerful digital photography tool available. Join millions of graphic designers and artists, and learn how to create everything from web icons, graphics, and cartoons to illustrations for print and video with Adobe Illustrator.

CSLW-N111-Comics and Graphic Novels Studio

In this interdisciplinary workshop series for writers, artists, and designers, students will experiment with the comic medium as they explore the interplay between image and text, form and content. Drawing cues from historical and contemporary examples of textual/graphic work, students will conceptualize comic projects in various forms, constructing compelling narratives through dialogue and visual representations. By the end of the series students should have produced short and longer form comics or graphic works.

Ottawa School of Art
F21DT04 – Comic books and carting – Ages 13-15

These courses are for students at all skill levels that need to draw and write seriously. They will learn and practice writing and drawing techniques and discover cartooning and comic book secrets. Students will apply their creativity to the production of comic strips, single panel comics, caricatures, illustrations, and the development of personal projects.
Each season will include a lesson on drawing hands (natural and cartoon), tips on writing and storytelling for comic books, and the production of a class magazine collecting original projects by the students.

Seneca College

This two-year creative diploma program combines traditional illustrative media, digital media and business which will educate you to succeed as a professional illustrator. The program specialties include children’s book illustration, comics, spot and advertising illustration and concept art for film and game animation. In addition to building on visual art skills such as drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture and digital media, you may also be able to register your own small business. You will have the skills to succeed as an entrepreneurial artist with a website, accounting, marketing and revenue generating skills in the curriculum.

For more information about Seneca College, check out this interview with JoAnne Purcell.

Sheridan College
ARTS70358 – Drawing for Comics and Graphic Novels

Develop introductory skills for creating work in the popular medium of comics and graphic novels.
With one-on-one help from an industry expert, this course introduces you to techniques and processes used to translate your characters and story into sequential art. Experience every step of development in a comic project, from observational drawing to conceptual design, paneling, penciling, inking and lettering. Students will receive personal feedback and guidance in a supportive studio creative environment. This course is suggested for students with an interest in developing their drawing and storytelling skills for practical application in the field of comics and graphic novels.

University of Alberta
LIS 404 – Comic Books and Graphic Novels in School and Public Libraries 

Examines the history and contemporary reality of comic book publishing and readership in Canada, Great Britain, Japan and the United States, and issues related to perception of the format of educators, librarians, and readers. Focus on collection development, censorship concerns and challenges, gender issues in both readership and content, genres, and impact of the Internet. Not open to MLIS students.

University of New Brunswick
ICS2103 – Understanding Comics and Manga

This course will focus on the study of comics and manga (Japanese comic books and graphic novels). Students will analyze the history of comics and the industry in both North America and Japan. Particular emphasis will be placed on issues pertaining to: gender,culture, readership, characterizations, artwork, fan communities, and creative workers.

University of Northern British Columbia
Comics and Graphic Novels Studio

In this interdisciplinary workshop series for writers, artists, and designers, students will experiment with the comic medium as they explore the interplay between image and text, form and content. Drawing cues from historical and contemporary examples of textual/graphic work, students will conceptualize comic projects in various forms, constructing compelling narratives through dialogue and visual representations.

University of Ottawa
ENG 2118 – Comic Books and Graphics Novels (3 units)

An introduction to the history of comic books and graphic novels, as they have evolved to mix pop-cultural media with serious artistic ambitions, text and image, the narrative and the visual, individual authorship and collaboration.

University of Toronto

2489 – Creating Comics & Graphic Novels
If you want to create comics or graphic novels, bring your passion to this practical workshop. Graphic novelist Willow Dawson will teach you the ropes, introduce you to the marketplace and provide a supportive space in which to develop your ideas. You’ll discover a diverse new world of sequential storytelling and a community of like-minded writers. The course supports all genres, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Prominent industry guests will give their perspectives and take your questions.

University of Waterloo
ENGL 108A – The Superhero

An examination of hero figures, ranging broadly from ancient characters such as Gilgamesh to the modern comic book superhero. Literary as well as nonliterary materials (e.g., film, comics, games) will be considered. The objective of this course is to track our cultural fascination with superheroes throughout the past century and place it within a broader literary context of the hero figure in general. Why are we drawn to the superhero? What cultural values are reflected through the superhero? What does the superhero say about us and our society in contrast to earlier societies? How does the superhero compare to older mythologies? Additionally, the course will seek to cultivate active reading and analytical skills alongside essay-writing ability.

Visual Arts Mississauga at Riverwood
FT11 – Teen Graphic Novel at VAM

This course will introduce you to the important elements of illustration through storytelling in comic books and graphic novels. Each week, you will focus on the fundamentals of developing unique characters, engaging emotions and poses and vibrant environments using drawing techniques. Prepare to work through various exercises each week to develop an original graphic novel pages. Students are welcome to work traditionally or digitally through this Bring Your Own Device course.

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